Just grill it

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Bored of Vietnamese pork chops? Saigon has myriad solutions for you.

It doesn't take long for visitors to realize that Ho Chi Minh City is a barbeque town.

There may not be much tailgating. There are no official barbeque-centric holidays.

But seasoned grill-meisters can be found, any given Sunday, fanning charcoal fires on nearly every street corner in the city.

Pork chops, pork ribs and drumsticks are turned at the end of their long chopsticks and sold over rice for a dollar or less.

Every now and again, you'll spy a whole fish being put to flame.

And it is good. But, after some time in Saigon, carnivores get an itch for the exotic which is why Thanh Nien Weekly has drafted a kind of round-the-town barbeque roadmap.

3T Restaurant

Simply a must-do for first time visitors to the city.

The open-air dining room is unrivalled in Vietnam. Surrounded by the lights of Saigon's booming skyline and low bamboo walls, 3T evokes a simple and elegant feel.

This may be the best place for foreigners to sample the country's delectable take on goat. Known around the world as a standby for tough, fatty stew meat, Vietnam looks to goat for tender, chewy morsels.

How do they do it?

They tend to dine only on the animal's udders. What you get is a plate of delicate, yielding strips of meat that have a vague smack of yogurt or cheese.

Also consider the bo pho mai beef slathered in white "cheese" and grilled over an open flame. The cheese itself is not, particularly cheesy more like a salty, butter salve.

If you're uncomfortable with meat and dairy combos, consider the grilled prawn with salt and chili, grilled chicken feet, or Sichuan-style blood cockles.

Chieu Nay Restaurant

WHERE TO GO

3T

29-31 Ton That Thiep Street, District 1

Tel: (08) 3 821 1631

Barbecue Garden

135A Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, District 1

Tel: (08) 3 823 3340

KushiHaru

59/1 Dong Khoi Street, District 1

Tel: (08) 3 823 4910

Chieu Nay Restaurant

30B Vo Van Tan Street, District 3

Tel: (08) 3 930 0354

Chen Shabu Shabu

294 Nguyen Thien Thuat Street, District 3

Tel: (08) 3 830 7112

Xien Xien

167 Tran Phu Street, District 5

Tel: (08) 3 500 1523

Chieu Nay (This afternoon) Restaurant specializes in "Russian-style barbeque," or so the sign says.  In fact, the restaurant's owner learned how to barbeque from the descendants of Turkic nomads while picking fruit during a Soviet student work program in Uzbekistan.

Everything is cheap, salty and wonderful grilled up, to order, on an open china box at the restaurant's front door.

They serve up a mean ostrich and the "Russian style" pork is always a worthwhile choice. Ask for sides of mustard and their warm, crispy bread rolls.

Barbecue Garden

It's situated in a lush, tree-filled courtyard strewn with hanging Christmas lights. At night, it looks like a miniature galaxy.

Half of the joy of eating here is grilling your own meat in this bright, open restaurant.

Upon arrival, the staff brings out mini-personal grills.

Consider the grilled beef with five spices, squid satay, and pork ribs slathered in honey.

The restaurant also boasts some Western grill dishes such as grilled beef fillet and Australian grilled lamb ribs.

Barbeque Garden offers over 100 menu items, some of which include weird, but delectable Western influence. For example, beef here is soaked in traditional Vietnamese marinade, rolled with cheese and onion, grilled and dipped into a mixture of salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Asian grill restaurants

Beyond these Vietnamese-fusion spots, Asian grill culture remains alive and well throughout the city.

Those with a penchant for peppers should head to Xien Xien Restaurant which specializes in satay the distinctive Southeast Asian style skewers that are hailed for their flavor in Singapore and Malaysia.

Xien Xien's meat and fish skewers taste as though they've been dry-rubbed in turmeric, cinnamon, anise and curry an excellent combo.

Chen Shabu Shabu Restaurant provides yet another delectable way to eat meat.

The Japanese-style hotpot joint boasts more than 80 grill dishes on its menu.

Meanwhile, KushiHaru specializes in Nippon-styled chicken and utilizes the whole bird from neck to feet.

In addition, the restaurant is also well-known for its pork and eel.

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