Ba Hoa Market – a venue for birds of a feather
HCMC has long been a convergence point for people from different parts of the country who want to move to the country’s economic hub to earn a living and settle down.
Those people living far from their birthplace often remember not only their families, relatives and countryside landscapes but also hometown specialties. And Ba Hoa Market in HCMC has long been known as a second home for the community of people from Quang Nam, commonly known as Quang people, as the market sells all sorts of specialties from the central region.
Founded in 1967 by Mrs. Hoa, a native of the North moving to the South since 1954, the market currently has more than 20 stalls selling only specialties of the Quang region like banh u (small pyramidal glutinous rice cake), banh ro (glutinous rice cake filled with green beans), banh trang nuong (grilled rice paper cake), ginger jam, peanut candy, black sugar, dried potatoes and fig fruits. These specialties have for decades been attached to unforgettable memories of Quang people living away from home.
The market was renamed Ward 11 Market but local residents always call it Ba Hoa market as a way to express their gratitude to the founder of the market.
Tourists who have a chance to pass by the market at the end of Tran Mai Ninh Street in Tan Binh District might be able to hear the familiar accents of the Quang people and savor authentic flavors of Quang dishes such as mi quang (Quang Nam-style noodle), Cao Lau (Hoi An rice noodles with pork), banh bot loc (cassava flour cake stuffed with shrimp), banh beo chen (a kind of rice cake made with spring onions and pork fat) and banh xeo (fried pancake).
The market is relatively small but it can warm the hearts of Quang people and satisfy their homesickness. Visitors to the market will have the opportunity to learn about local culture, customs and lifestyle of Quang people through trading activities and daily life at the market that have existed for more than half a century.
A third-year student of the HCMC Open University, who was born and grew up in Tam Ky City of Quang Nam Province and moved to the city to continue his higher education, said there is little chance for him to visit his hometown due to his tight study schedule and limited finances. Every time he misses his family and wants to try the true taste of signature dishes of the land of Quang Nam, he often drops at Ba Hoa Market. To him, the market looks like a second home that gives him spiritual support as he is able to meet and share difficulties in life with compatriots.
Phung Thi Sau, a 62-year-old trader who has sold various kinds of mam (salted fish), a renowned specialty of the central region, at the market for more than 30 years, told the Daily how she has treasured the market. “Sitting here and witnessing the changes of the city as well as the surroundings, I sense the value of life. The trading business is enough for me to make ends meet but I still wish to devote the rest of my life to the market as a way to preserve special features about cuisines and lifestyles of my hometown and soothe my homesickness,” she said.
If you have no chance for a long trip to the sunny and windy central region where people are struggling with a host of difficulties, then taking a short walk along Ba Hoa market can give you a better understanding of the daily lives and food culture of Quang people.
The hospitable Quang people with great smiles on their faces may make a great impression on tourists upon arrival at the market for the first time.
Customers are seen at a stand at Ba Hoa Market on Tran Mai Ninh Street in HCMC's Tan Binh District
A girl grills rice paper cakes at the market
The market has many specialties of the central region