Another of my old Chowhound posts from 2015, before “The Great Scattering”.
Transferring the information here to Hungry Onion, with 3 days to go before CH disappears for good.
Got a dining tip on this little gem of a breakfast spot from fellow Chowhound, foodfirst (the avatar for prolific food writer, Robyn Eckhardt @ Eating Asia).
Hòa Mã is a busy breakfast spot at 53 Cao Thang in District 3. It opens at around 6am and closes once everything is sold out, sometimes as early as 10.30am - so do come early if you want a taste of its popular breakfast offerings.
Its signature offering is a simple breakfast of two eggs, perfectly-cooked till translucent on the outside and still gloriously runny inside, accompanied by three types of Vietnamese sausages (“chả lụa”): slivers of “xúc xích” (pork sausage), 3 wands of “chả cá” (wrinkly, spongey, deep-fried fish cake), and a couple of cubes of very tasty “thịt nguội” (ham), plus sautéed onions and a couple of stalks of scallion. Also ordered a little side-dish of pate and mayonnaise which improved the overall flavour of the dish tremendously.
There was that requisite dish of crunchy pickles: carrots, cucumber and jicama - less sweet than the ones we get in Singapore, and with an assertive stab of ginger in the marinade.
The baguette was light and crusty on the outside, and impossibly light and cottony inside. Saigon residents have been making a beeline for Hoa Ma’s bread since 1960 (when founder-owner, Nguyen Thi Tinh, moved to Saigon from the North) - as I sat at my table this morning on the side-street, I could see numerous motorcyclists stopping by just to buy the plain baguettes. The baguettes here are reputedly even better than those from the iconic 40-year-old Như Lan, which supposedly sets the benchmark in town.
Everything was made in-house here - you basically get a truly artisanal Saigon breakfast
Breakfast at Hoa Ma
Perfectly-done soft-boiled eggs (“op la”), with Vietnamese sausages, onions & scallions
“Ca phe sua da” (Vietnamese-style iced milk coffee)
Breakfast with a view - as one sees life stirring anew in early morning Saigon.
The stall frontage - as I sat there having my breakfast, I see more customers actually coming here and lugging away a dozen or so of his plain baguette loaves, than purchasing his sandwiches.
A foot note here: Northerners normally eschew any greens in their sandwiches, whereas Southerners like their salads & herbs. So, for a Hanoi émigré like Nguyen Thi Tinh to stuff his banh mi sandwiches with pickles & lettuce leaves simply shows his willingness to adapt to the Saigon palate.
No beating its al fresco seating here - life flows on in the streets unabated the whole morning.
Bánh mì Hòa Mã
Đường Cao Thắng, Quận 3, Hồ Chí Minh City, Vietnam