Nov 21 2011

Saigon street food: Hot vit lon

Published by at 2:53 am under Saigon street food


I’m a pretty big fan of Vietnamese street food, which you can tell because I constantly talk about it. As I’ve eaten more and more I’ve become increasingly adventurous with what I will try, but it has taken a year for me to get brave enough to try the Vietnamese specialty of hot vit lon (hot veet lone), also known as balut or boiled duck embryo. The thought of eating a partially developed egg had never seemed particularly appealing to me but, after some prodding from friends, I finally took the plunge and tried this roadside delicacy.

Not my first idea of a snack food.

Not my first idea of a snack food.

When I got my egg, placed cutely atop an egg holder and served with a dish of lime and salt, I received very particular orders on how to eat it. Your first step is to take your spoon and hit the top of the egg, cracking the shell, which you will then peel back, making a small hole in the top. Once you have the hole in the top you get to drink the juice. In my particular case, the egg was extremely hot; it was too hot for me to touch. So, instead of sipping it like a cup of tea, I drank it with a straw, which was apparently hilarious. After you drink the juice, which tastes like hard-boiled egg juice, you make the hole bigger so you spoon out the insides.

More than one way to eat an egg.

More than one way to eat an egg.

The inside of the egg is probably the most unsettling part of the experience because the embryo is pretty developed. It looks a little like a chick, with a head, legs and bones, but it is still tender to eat. It is tender enough to break apart with your spoon; so you can take small bites that you won’t be able to recognise.

Close your eyes and give it a try!

Close your eyes and give it a try!

Carts that sell hot vit lon are usually low key with little in the way of signage or display. The eggs are usually kept in a steamer but some will be on display or at least out in the open. Streetside vendors that sell shellfish will usually keep a healthy supply of eggs on hand and most markets have someone who sells them — you just might have to ask your drink lady.

They don’t taste bad — I didn’t think they were much different than a regular hard-boiled egg — but I’m not sure it’s something I’m going to start having on a daily basis. That being said, if I do say so myself I did look pretty cool and super brave when I finished my hot vit lon in front of my less brave friends. So, if you’re super brave like me, find yourself a cart and give it a try!

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9 responses so far

9 Responses to “Saigon street food: Hot vit lon”

  1. tanyaon 21 Nov 2011 at 3:17 am

    brave lady! I’d worry about puking it up on the street in front of everyone!

    Are the snake-bile and dog restaurants on your to-try list, too?

  2. Angelaon 21 Nov 2011 at 4:20 am

    Thanks Tanya and bring it on – I will just have to keep closing my eyes ;)

  3. Peteon 23 Nov 2011 at 12:01 am

    Angela, thats great – very brave. I’m def going to give it go next Feb.

  4. Angelaon 23 Nov 2011 at 4:17 am

    You have to!

  5. Binxon 23 Nov 2011 at 12:32 pm

    That’s a delicacy in the philippines too! love it! We call it balut.

  6. [...] I wouldn’t want to have on a regular basis; I just can’t get past the mental block for a daily hot vit lon yet. One thing that surprises me about street food in HCMC is the variety of soups. Don’t get me [...]

  7. [...] One other addition I experienced in my first Hanoian hotpot was unfertilised eggs. They were cracked into the stock and poached. I ate it, yes. Would I again? Probably not. But you can read more about that delicacy over on the Saigon blog. [...]

  8. [...] I wouldn’t want to have on a regular basis; I just can’t get past the mental block for a daily hot vit lon yet. One thing that surprises me about street food in HCMC is the variety of soups. Don’t get me [...]

  9. [...] than 100 Central Vietnamese countryside dishes, including beef, rabbit and more unique dishes like hot vit lon, but what the restaurant is famous for is its roasted suckling pig — you'll walk past the pig [...]

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