The Best 4 Must-Eat Dishes in Saigon and Where To Try Them
BEST 4 MUST-EAT DISHES IN SAIGON & WHERE TO TRY THEM
This is more a list of dishes I really enjoyed eating and trying during my trip to Saigon, and I think it’s a start, or a beginning, to exploring delicious things to eat in the city.
Are you ready to start eating?
1. Bánh mì (banh mi- Vietnamease Bread)
If you’re even the slightest bit into Vietnamese food, you’ve probably eaten numerous banh mi sandwiches.
Along with pho, easily the most exported Vietnamese speciality is banh mi. Although banh mi can mean a variety of different things, and in Vietnamese it actually just means bread, sometimes the term can be used to refer to any type of the beautiful Vietnamese personal baguette sandwich.
Walking around Saigon you’ll see dozens of carts with signs selling banh mi – it’s actually hard to go more than a block without seeing one – so it’s never hard to find.
There are many different varieties of banh mi, and here’s a good resource for seeing the different types, but the basic sandwich starts with a crusty baguette that’s sliced in half (sometimes using a scissors) and stuffed with layers of pork, luncheon meats, shredded cured pork skin, pâté, mayonnaise, Vietnamese radish and carrot pickles, a handful of sliced cucumbers, sprigs of coriander (cilantro), and last but not least, an optional, yet in my opinion necessary, scoop of fresh pounded chilies. The sum of these ingredients together is what really makes banh mi such a glorious sandwich
Here are the three main restaurants you can eat banh mi when you are in Saigon.
Bánh Mì Huỳnh Hoa (Banh Mi Huynh Hoa)
Mention banh mi in Saigon, and it won’t be long before someone brings up Bánh Mì Huỳnh Hoa (Banh Mi Huynh Hoa), what is easily the most famous place to eat banh mi pate in the city.
During just about all business hours, Bánh Mì Huỳnh Hoa (Banh Mi Huynh Hoa) remains busy and hectic, and if you go in the evening, you’ll actually need to be on the aggressive side to place your order and get your sandwich.
The banh mi was absolutely stuffed with multiple layers of different luncheon meats, pate, and mayonnaise, but there were less pickles, cucumber, and cilantro than on other versions I ate. So this is really a meat lovers dream come true.
We can sure see why it’s so famous, and if you’re a banh mi lover, this is a place you don’t want to miss.
Address: 26 Lê Thị Riêng, Ben Thanh, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Open hours: About 3:30 pm – midnight daily Price: 30,000 VND ($1.40), more expensive than others, but worth it for the amount of meat
Bánh Mì Hồng Hoa
We ordered just the standard bánh mì, a fresh and crusty baguette filled with slices of pork, luncheon meat, pate, mayonnaise, some nicely flavorful chillies, and a handful of freshly sliced cucumbers, and fragrant cilantro.
What we especially loved about their version, was that it was heavy on the herbs and fresh veggies.
The family running the business were all very nice and helpful, and they were excited that we were eating there. It turned out to be one of my favorite banh mi sandwiches of my time in Saigon.
Address: 62 Nguyễn Văn Tráng, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Open hours: I think open in the morning, I arrived at 8 am, and they seemed to be at their peak serving, so good place for breakfast Price: 17,000 VND ($0.80)
Banh Mi 37 Nguyen Trai
Another banh mi favorite, located right in the heart of Saigon, and pretty popular with both locals in the neighborhood and tourists, is a stall that sets up in the late afternoon, known as Banh Mi 37 Nguyen Trai.
They specialize in banh mi filled with little grilled minced pork sliders. The pork was seasoned and freshly grilled, and when I ordered, the baguette was filled with grilled pork patties and lots of cucumbers and herbs, and sauce that was almost like teriyaki.
Overall, very good, and if you’re in the area, it’s a definite must-stop to eat snack.
Address: 37 Nguyễn Trãi, Ho Chi Minh City (though the address is 37, it’s right at Hem 39) Open hours: From around 4:30 pm – 7:30 pm each day Price: 16,000 VND ($0.75)
2. Phở (pho)
No matter if you’ve been to Vietnam before or not, you’ve likely heard of pho, if not already eaten it many times before.
The noodle soup didn’t become so famous for nothing – it really is one of the most common dishes in throughout the country, and it makes the Vietnamese food menu at nearly every sit-down restaurant too.
Pho is the combination of soft rice noodles in a soup broth, normally prepared with either bo (beef) or ga (chicken) – both of which can be extremely delicious.
The noodles are flash boiled until soft, topped with your choice of meat, and often finished with a sprinkle of chopped green onions and sometimes sweet onions as well.
But what you will really love the most about eating pho in Vietnam is the fresh plate of herbs, typically including sawtooth herb, mint, and Vietnamese coriander, along with house-made chili sauce, that’s on your table for self-service when you eat it.
Here are the best Pho restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City
Pho Number 1 Ha Noi
It was a nice open air eatery, with clean metal tables, and stashed piles of herbs and condiments. You can ordere pho bo (beef pho ) or pho ga (chicken pho), both of which are simple, and flavorful.
We especially loved the all-you-can-eat herbs, pickled garlic, and chilies. The owner, was quite a friendly man as well.
Pho So 1 Ha Noi is a great simple restaurant to eat pho at if you happen to be in the area.
Address: 25 Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, Saigon, Vietnam Open hours: All day and night – they are open 24 hours Prices: 28,000 VND ($1.29) for a bowl
Pho Hoa – The Family Dynasty One Pho Hoa – The Family Dynasty One A restaurant with a long legacy, Pho Hoa consistently ranks as one of the best places to sample Vietnam’s most popular noodle soup. Pho Hoa Restaurant has been run by successive generations of the same family which adds a little history to your meal. The broth recipe here is a family secret which helps create a little mystique around the flavours. Served with your bowl of pho is a plate of deep fried bread called qouy. This bread is actually of Chinese origin but it is finding favour as a daytime side dish. Our favourite option here is the pho with beef tendon, which is chewy and succulent. Pho Hoa is on Pasteur Street in District 1, with two floors and air-conditioning upstairs. Location: 260C Pasteur Street, District 1
Pho Thin Ha Noi – The North Vietnamese One
Pho Thin Ha Noi is just one block away from Turtle Lake roundabout in District 3 and gives visitors to Ho Chi Minh the chance to sample the original, northern style of pho. This pho is served with fewer condiments and lets the flavours of the broth carry the dish with only scallions sprinkled on top as a garnish. This pho restaurant is a particular favourite with office workers looking for a quick, nutritious – and most of all, delicious – lunch. With that in mind, it can get very busy in here around midday, but sometimes that is a bonus for visitors who love to see how locals act in their day to day life. If you are looking for a restaurant serving the northern style of Pho in Ho Chi Minh we definitely recommend Pho Thin Ha Noi.
Location: 170 Nguyễn Đình Chiểu, District 3
3. Bún riêu (Crab Noodle Soup)
Vietnam is a land of noodle soups, and many enjoy at least one bowl of noodles a day, some, maybe even a few.
After trying many different types of Vietnamese noodle soups during my stay in Saigon, I “think – and I say that because I change my food mind quite often” I can say my favorite is bun rieu.
The broth is made from a crab base stock, and another key ingredient are tomatoes, which create a broth that’s slightly seafood tasting, yet has a beautiful natural sweet and tartness from the tomatoes. I think there’s also often some rice vinegar included in the recipe to give it a lovely sour and well-rounded flavor.
Along with the wonderfully flavorful broth in a bowl of bun rieu, the noodles are often similar in shape and size to spaghetti noodles, except soft rice noodles.
Topping the noodles are pieces of golden fried tofu, sometimes meatballs, hearty chunks of pork, squares of congealed pig’s blood, and finally a slab of rich crab paste.
The dish reminded me of a few similar Thai dishes like northern Thai nam ngiao, a tomato stew.
To eat bun rieu, you normally garnish it with shrimp paste or crab paste, then load it up with chili sauce, a squeeze of lime juice, and then devour it with a small mountain of herbs and shredded vegetables.
For noodle soup in Vietnam, we really think it can’t get much better than a steaming hot bowl of bun rieu cua.
Bún riêu Nguyễn Cảnh Chân
Another recommendation from the YouTube video, was a restaurant called Bún riêu Nguyễn Cảnh Chân.
It proved to be an insanely delicious restaurant, that not only served an excellent bowl of bun rieu cua, but the staff were all friendly, and I like that the restaurant was located on a pleasant wide side road in Saigon, shaded by nice big trees.
A bowl of bun rieu cua at Bún riêu Nguyễn Cảnh Chân is perfectly balanced, with a gorgeous crab flavor, a hint of bitterness, and a light sweetness from the always simmering tomatoes.
The meat and other ingredients in the soup were generously added, and the condiments were pungent and flavorful.
Address: 18/5 Nguyễn Cảnh Chân, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City Open hours: 11 am – 7 pm daily Prices: 45,000 VND ($2.08)
Bun Rieu Oc Thanh Hai
If you want to try Northern style bun rieu, then the 30-year-old Thanh Hai Restaurant situated in an alley on Ky Dong Street is undoubtedly the soundest option.
The recipe here calls for crab and sea snails and is served with a multitude of fresh vegetables, like basil, perilla, and bean sprouts. Every bowl is a combination of the pure sweetness of crab; the acidity of tomato and vinegar; and the saltiness of sea snail. Everything is likely to melt on your tongue, making bun rieu Thanh Hai an option that will certainly satisfy even the pickiest of customers.
In addition to the main dish, this is also a must-try if you are looking for authentic plates of sea snails such as sea snails steamed with lime leaves, sea snails stuffed with meat, etc.
Address: 14/12 Ky Dong, District 3
Bun Rieu at Van Lang Park
If this is your first visit, be patient, because you may have to wait a while to be seated. Regulars here rarely eat just one bowl, but two or three bowls to make their wait worthwhile.
The restaurant opens at 5 PM. The broth tastes lighter than others so the bun rieu at Van Lang Park doesn’t pack the same punch as other canteens. However, to the citizens living around Van Lang Park, the hot bowl of bun rieu here is exceedingly appealing with its fresh crabmeat, its slight sourness, and sweet shrimp. In spite of being the farthest destination on the list, it definitely won’t waste your time and energy.
Address: At the Gate of Van Lang Park, Hung Vuong, District 5
4. HU TIEU NAM VANG ( Pork Noodle Soup) Saigon
Hu Tieu Nam Vang is a multiethnic dish which was invented by the Cambodians, processed by the Chinese and enjoyed by the Vietnamese.
Among all types of hu tieu, hu tieu Nam Vang is probably one of the most famous. This is a multiethnic dish which was invented by the Cambodians, processed by the Chinese and enjoyed by the Vietnamese. The composition is quite simple: noodles, shrimp, lean meat, pig hearts, mince, quail eggs, and broth.
Today, hu tieu nam vang is made with different ingredients, in addition to pork and shrimp, one can enjoy hu tieu nam vang with crab and squid. One element – minced meat – stays the same though, because this is the soul of the whole dish.
Where to Eat?
Hu Tieu Nam Vang Lien Hua
Address: 90D Tran Quoc Thao, District 3 or 312 An Duong Vuong, District 5 Opening hours: 10 AM – 9 PM Price: about 70,000 VND
Hu Tieu Nam Vang Nhan Quan
Hu Tieu Nam Vang Nhan Quan
Address: A67 Nguyen Trai, District 1 Opening hours: 5 AM – 11 PM Price: 50 – 72,000 VND