I don't expect to find a fresher dragon fruit than this one, so after a half-dozen samples at home and abroad, whole and juiced, I can say with assurance that only the bright spiky rind lives up to the name; the flavor is bland as can be.
Fruit vendor Ho Chi Minh City (From a November 2006 visit)
Oc nhoi thit (25,000 dong), snails stuffed with their own meat and perhaps pork, too, were studded with whole peppercorns. After withdrawing the meat and wrapping it in a mint leaf (or two, for the especially big ones), I dipped them in a sweet-and-sour sauce laced with garlic.
Thanh Binh 140 Le Thanh Ton, Ho Chi Minh City (From a November 2006 visit)
They make an interesting couple (330 ml.; about 5,000 dong each): Zizy lemon soda comes on like tart, carbonated lemonade, while Thums Up brand Xáxi conjures up black cherry and liquorice.
The beers were less interesting:
Dai Viet bia vang (330 ml.; 6,500 dong). Pale yellow with a short-lived cream-colored head that left a faint tracery on the glass; aroma, flavor, and aftertaste of fermented vegetables.
Dai Viet bia den (330 ml.; 9,000 dong). Ditto, but darker.
333 (330 ml.; 7,800 dong). Pale yellow with a scant white head. Scant aroma, too; astringent mouthfeel, with the flavor of vegetable matter.
Larue Export (330 ml.; 7,000d). Amber with a foamy white head; hoppy aroma foreshadowed a little too much bitterness.
Citimarket Saigon 39 Le Duan, Ho Chi Minh City (From a November 2006 visit)
The personal pie called pizza thuong (10,000 dong) — loosely piled with sausage, onions, peppers, mushrooms, and cheese — is best eaten with a knife and fork, especially if you dose it with chili sauce.
Duc Phat Bakery 180 Hai Ba Trung, Ho Chi Minh City (one of many locations) (From a November 2006 visit)
This pizza thit (with a silent "h" no less; 4,000 dong) rests on a thin, crisp crust that's compelling in a freezer-case-to-microwave sort of way. Dessert was a xoi vi (3,500 dong), coconut custard sandwiched between pandan-flavored and black sticky rice.
Sinh Do Bakery 196 Hai Ba Trung, Ho Chi Minh City (one of many locations) (From a November 2006 visit)
All you need to run a refreshment stand in Ho Chi Minh City, it seems, are a few chairs and a little ledge by your front door, though it helps to live on the shady side of the street. This Number 1 brand soda (4,000 dong) was pineapple-flavored.
Sidewalk mini-café Duong Nguyen Trung Truc, Ho Chi Minh City (From a November 2006 visit)
Not for tourists only: I spotted a few locals drinking from coconuts, too, though I expect they didn't pay 30,000 dong (at the time, about a buck eighty-nine, like my weight). But figure in a photo fee for a wide-eyed visitor on his first day in Vietnam, and this fellow set a fair enough price.
Roaming coconut vendor In front of the Fahasa bookstore, 60 Le Loi, Ho Chi Minh City (From a November 2006 visit)