Oct 272011

Gỏi Đu Đủ On the Street
At the entrance to Le Van Tam Park
Corner of Hai Ba Trung Street & Vo Thi Sau Street (across from the Evergreen Hotel)
District 3


I hate it when folk ask me ~ What do you do everyday now that you’re retired.  Immediately, I’m defensive!

First of all, why do you need to know?  And why do I have to “do” something everyday?  And what if I don’t “do” so much one day?  I’m retired, you know.  I worked for many decades so I would have this free time to …  to enjoy …   to enjoy my Free Time!!  So, now I stay very busy just “being retired”!  There – I feel better. 🙂

Yesterday was a typical retirement day. I got up at a reasonable time, made myself some coffee, and checked my e-mail. The time difference between Saigon and California is quite convenient.  Friends and business associates send off an entire day’s worth of their emails while I sleep.  So all my correspondence is there lined up and ready for response when I first get up and enjoy my morning coffee.  Very efficient, I think.

Then, what about the rest of the world? It’s time to catch up with CNN and see what I missed while I was asleep.  And, after that, perhaps a brief time with Peirs asking someone how many times they have been “properly in love“. Properly?  What?

Then there’s cleaning, shopping, laundry and life’s miscellaneous tasks. And of course, there’s my passion, EatingSaigon !

After all that, its time to walk down my 3 flights of stairs, say hello to the neighbors, and walk over to busy Cach Mang Thang Tam street to hop on the bus or waive down my favorite xe om …  and continue to explore Saigon.

Today, I felt like giving myself a treat and enjoying one of my favorite combos – Gỏi Đu Đủ and a stroll in the park . So, that was a bus #30, followed by a transfer to bus #36 (in total a 35 minute journey).

Actually, this is probably my #1 recommendation for a Saigon snack-eating experience. First, the Gỏi Đu Đủ (green papaya salad)

The cooks assembling the delicious Gỏi Đu Đủ salads

 created by the three woman at the entrance to Le Van Tam Park is superb.  It’s a masterpiece of textures!  The shredded papaya is fresh, cool  and crunchy.  The dried beef is chewy, yet tender (yes, that’s possible) – and so richly flavored.  The rice crackers sitting on top of the salad are light and crisp.  And the peanuts are firm and plentiful.  The crowning accent to the salad is the special home-made dressing. Sweet, sour, spicy, yummy, and sweet again.  Perhaps improperly, I even subteley slurp down any dressing still in my bowl at the end of the salad!

Gỏi Đu Đủ

But the salad itself is not all that’s wonderful – it’s the setting.  No tables, no chairs – not even a stool!  Welcome to the curb.  All the curbs and tree wells have been set with individual plastic placemats.  So, pull up a placemat, have a seat, and enjoy your salad! Hai tells me he has been doing this since before high school – decades ago.  What a great tradition.

Gỏi Đu Đủ – at Le Van Tam Park

But wait – there’s more!

When you’re finished enjoying your late afternoon snack, it’s time for a power-walk (or at least a stroll)

Gỏi Đu Đủ Curbside

through the park.  Le Van Tam is right there.  It’s a lovely mid-sized park – quiet midday, but filled to capacity with locals enjoying their early-morning and late-afternoon exercise. Walking, jogging, ban mitten, tai chi, and more. Great to watch and even better to join in.

Afternoon “health-walk” in Le Van Tam Park

If you decide to be lazy (or just relax) you can enjoy a park bench.  Inevitably, you will be visited by high school or college students wanting to practice their English – “Where you from?”, “How old are you?”, “What’s your name?”, “What do you think of my country?”, “Are you married?” Time to catch the bus back home 🙂


Early in 2012 we will launch “Eating Saigon” and post our daily blogs as we re-visit and describe some of our favorite Vietnam dishes, restaurants, eateries, and street food vendors ~ And we’ll be continuing our daily eating adventures to discover new places to eat and share with you!

In the meantime, if you find yourself in Vietnam before our website is fully launched and wondering Where to Eat in Saigon, please trust us when we rate Saigon’s Gỏi Đu Đủ – Spicy Papaya Salad “On the Street”” as in our top 3 Saigon Eating Adventures.

At the entrance to Le Van Tam Park at the Corner of Hai Ba Trung Street & Vo Thi Sau Street (across from the Evergreen Hotel)
District 3, HCMC.

Lisa & Hai enjoying their afternoon snack together

Lisa & Hai enjoying their afternoon snack together

[Continuously re-confirmed as one of our all-time favorites – most recently in JANUARY 2016, enjoyed with our good friend, Lisa, visiting from Berkeley, California]

View Goi Du Du – Papaya Salad “On the Street” in a larger map

 October 27, 2011

  to “Gỏi Đu Đủ (Spicy Papaya Salad) – Saigon Street Food at the Park”

  1. […] Near Le Van Tam Park near Le Van Tam Park (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) […]

  2. Was referred to your site by Jodi E and its been such an awesome resource. Just tried the papaya salad and it was delishhh. Posted up in hcmc for at least a few months, look forward to working my way through all your suggestions. Cheers, Kim

  3. Hi,
    I went to this park as indicated on the map and wandered the whole park looking for this dish. Are they only there at specific times of the day? Thanks!

    • Wow Jon- I’m so sorry you couldn’t find the ladies serving up the papaya salad. I’ve been there from early afternoon to 10 pm and they’ve always been there. If you went today, perhaps the on-again, off-again rain downpours kept them home today??? Also, as I indicated, they’re not IN the park, they’re just outside at the at the entrance to Le Van Tam Park on Hai Ba Trung Street (corner of Vo Thi Sau Street) , District 3. I hope you get another chance to try find them and enjoy!

      • Found them! They were across the street from the park near some construction. It was great.. Glad we went back to try it. Also tried the bun at Chi Thong and it was very delicous. Thanks for sharing.

      • Good news! Khong co chi (You’re very welcome). Enjoy the rest of your travels/eating … Joe

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