Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is a major point of culture and tourist exchange in the South. The majority of tourists to the South will drop by here and stay at least one night or stop in for a few hours before visiting somewhere like the Western, Da Lat, Vung Tau, Phu Quoc. During that short period of time, you should enlist time to enjoy the tasty dishes in Saigon. In this article, I will list some delicious foods of Saigon for both tourists and culinary enthusiasts.
1, Vietnamese Broken Rice
When mentioning to Saigon, firstly anyone will probably think of Vietnamese Broken Rice (Com Tam). This is so popular that in Saigon, locals eat it from breakfast to dinner. Other provinces have the Saigon-style Vietnamese Broken Rice but they don’t like what you will be enjoyed at Saigon for sure.
This dish is called broken rice because it is cooked from broken grains of rice which are a kind of cracking, breaking rice with bad form in place of whole grain as other expensive rice types. The most popular kind is broken rice with grilled pork chop but most of the shops serve extra broken rice with roasted chicken and broken rice with pork chop, pork skin, stuffing.
A plate of broken rice is always served with pickle, a bowl of soup, a cup of sweet, and sour sauce for your more tasty and attractive ration. Personally, I don’t like eating broken rice at the big restaurants because that’s not style at this place. I prefer to eat at the sidewalk shops or food trolleys right on the street and order an extra glass of iced tea. That is just how to enjoy the regional specialties.
Address of delicious broken rice:
The Phan Chu Trinh area has many delicious and cheap broken rice shops where sell from early morning to late night. Behind the Phan Xich Long apartment, there is also a good sidewalk shop but it just opens from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Behind the Xom Chieu Market, Le Van Linh Street, there is a shop works later from 6:00 pm to 12:00 pm.
2, Trang Bang Rice Paper
Although this dish derives from Trang Bang, Tay Ninh, it has become very popular in Saigon. In Saigon, the shops of Trang Bang Rice Paper mushroomed but the best shop is still the Hoang Ty Trang Bang Rice Paper at 70, Vo Van Tan Street.
The special feature of rice paper is that the exposed rice paper is just delicious especially it is more interesting when served with many kinds of vegetables including cucumber, Thai basil, spearmint, water parsley, houttuynia cordata, garlic chives, coriander, and perilla. There are over 30 kinds of herbs and young leaves to get enough five tastes: sweet, sour, fatty, acrid and aromatic.
3, Phnom Penh Noodle Soup (Hu Tieu Nam Vang)
Hu Tieu Nam Vang is also called “a multi-ethnic dish” because it derives from Campuchia but was cooked by Chinese. Noodle is as popular as broken rice in the Sai Thanh land but even Phnom Penh Noodle Soup is more special. In particular, because of the diversity of ingredients, this dish is also very diverse.
For example, Hu Tieu Nam Vang derives from pork pieces and minced pork but in Saigon, there are more kinds served with: shrimp, liver, quail eggs and squid… When enjoying Hu Tieu Nam Vang, it is indispensable the served vegetables such as parsley, garlard chrysanthemum, garlic chives, curly endive, and sprouts.
There are 2 ways to eat noodle that are Vietnamese dried noodle and Vietnamese noodle soup. The Vietnamese dried noodle is added a little soy sauce, fried garlic and a bowl of soup. There are several famous Hu Tieu Nam Vang shops in Saigon such as Hong Phat noodle shop (Vo Van Tan Street), TyLum, Lien Hua… However, the shop at Cao Thang corner – Nguyen Dinh Chieu, District 3 is also a worthy address.
4, Vietnamese Goby Fish Hot Pot
Hot Pot is a familiar dish from Hanoi to Saigon but Vietnamese Goby Fish Hot Pot characterizes specific regions. Vietnamese Goby Fish is a kind of small fish as a finger with smooth skin. You have to put into hot pot when they are alive so there is a fishy taste.
However, their meat is very sweet, soft without diminutive bones so it is easy to eat. This is a western dish but it is well-known throughout the country thanks to the combination of a precise way of all 3 tastes: sour, spicy and sweet. Currently, in Hanoi, there are a lot of Vietnamese Goby Fish Hot Pot shops but eating this dish is other special experience.
When visiting Saigon, you should spend your time to enjoy this hot pot in Ba Huyen shop at 87, Ba Huyen Thanh Quan. This shop not only is spacious, airy but also has fresh and delicious dishes with affordable prices and briskly staves. Now, the shop has the second one at 10, Nguyen Thong.
According to opinions of many eaters, the most delicious dishes here are grilled Goby Fish with chili salt and Vietnamese Goby Fish Hot Pot. Steamed eel and citronella is also a worthy try. But, a minus point is that if you sit too long, staves will dismiss politely. Perhaps that’s because customers are too crowded. What you order more are charged even you have to pay for parking vehicle. Keep in mind to check your bill carefully.
5, Snail and Crab
With snail dish, you can both enjoy for fun and eat for full, it can meet demands of students to drinkers. In District 4, there is a wide range of snail shops even their menus have a dozen of kinds of extremely attractive snails as well as other seafood.
The Thao snail shop at 229, Hoang Dieu is considered as the most luxurious shop at this area but its price is as affordable as the shops in Hanoi. Most customers here order Crab Curry served with bread, pretty tasty.
Besides the Oc Thao shop, there is the Oc Oanh shop at 534, Vinh Khanh nearby this area. In the afternoon, you can find the sidewalk Oc Nhung shop at 228, Vinh Khanh. The Oc Xinh shop at 12B, Khanh Hoi has many strange snail kinds.
6, Braised Duck with Egg Noodle Soup
This is one of the dishes hard to find except at Saigon. It derives from China and suits to people loving stewed dishes. The most famous and delicious shop at Saigon is Hai Ky Mi Gia at 349 Nguyen Trai, noodles here are crispy without chewy, its broth has a very strong smell of Chinese traditional medicine. A bowl of very tasty Braised Duck with Egg Noodle Soup takes you 90.000-120.000 VND per a ration (quite expensive).
If you want to look for a cheaper shop, come to Luong Ky My Gia shop at 1, Huynh Man Dat, the price is just about 75.000 – 85.000VND but the broth is not as delicious as at Hai Ky Mi Gia.
7, Saigon Vietnamese Pancake
The size of Saigon Vietnamese pancake is really bigger than Hanoi Vietnamese pancake, its diameter is almost as equal as pan used to coat Vietnamese pancake. The name derives from that after putting shrimp, lean and fat meat mixed into a pan, chef will pour a gold powder into the pan and make a sound “xeo”.
If you eat Vietnamese pancake at a large restaurant, you can’t be enjoyed the talent of chef (how to cook Vietnamese pancake). If coming to the Ba Hai Banh Xeo Shop at 119, Nguyen Van Linh, behind the Xom Chieu Market, you can both see how the chef cooks and enjoy one as soon as it is just out of the oven.
While at other shops, their Vietnamese Pancake is served with lightly spicy vegetables (very attractive), at this place, you are served with the typical western vegetables. An important part of this dish is the sweet and sour sauce, someone said that it is the “soul” of the dish.
Another affordable Vietnamese Pancake Shop is Kim Ngan at 31, Hoang Hoa Tham Street. The price is just 30.000 vnd/ one. In this 31, Hoang Hoa Tham Alley, there is a vast variety of Vietnamese pancake, Vietnamese mini savory pancakes (banh khot) shops but according to many feedbacks, their sweet and sour sauce seems to be not delicious.
8, Bun Mam
This dish appeared in the list of 10 must-try dishes when coming to Saigon of the culinary blogger – Mark Wiens and I also have the same opinion. Although this dish has a slightly heavy smell with the first-try people, if you have eaten once, you will be crushed. This blogger also specifies eating this dish at Phan Boi Chau with 65.000vnd per one.
Bun Mam is a southwest dish, its broth is made from kinds of siamese mud carp, snakehead and so on. Cook until well-stewed meat after that baste to take only the water, finally season spices tasty. It is served with fresh rice vermicelli and garden vegetables such as common knotgrass, water-lily stems, yellow burrhead, and banana flower… Occasionally, the bowl of Bun Mam of international tourists was dotted a few shrimp or fish slices. When importing Saigon, this dish is combined to other ingredients such as roasted pork, squid… All make the bowl of Bun Mam become more attractive.
In Saigon, there is an area of Bun Mam shop – the Minh Phung Crossroad – Hau Giang in District 6. At this place, there is a crop of Bun Mam shops opening from early morning to late night and their quality is the same.
9, Vietnamese Grilled Pork & Rice Noodles
Hanoi is the paradise of soup dishes such as rice vermicelli, noodle soup and vermicelli made of cassava but the popular dishes in Saigon are the mixed rice vermicelli and vermicelli made of cassava. Vietnamese Grilled Pork & Rice Noodles are a typical example. In spite of the similar ingredients to Vietnamese Pork Meatball and Noodle Salad (Bun Cha) in Hanoi, Bun Thit Nuong brings a completely different taste.
There are many different eating ways of Bun Cha in North and how to eat Bun Thit Nuong in Saigon also has several ways. At the Chi Tuyen Shop, 195, Co Giang Street or the Chi Thong Shop, 95, Co Giang Street, all ingredients are mixed available, quite good. At the Hai Dang Shop, 145, Chan Hung Street, the ingredients are separated to depend on the taste of each one, customers themselves will mix them together.
However, there are some customers complain about hygiene problem at this place. Besides Vietnamese Grilled Pork & Rice Noodles, Vietnamese grilled pork meatballs are also very delicious or you can order a bowl full of grilled pork and grilled pork meatballs.
10, Fried Rice Flour Cake (Bot Chien)
It is very easy to see the appearance of this dish in most of the top lists of delicious dishes when visiting Saigon. However, this also depends on the taste of each. This nosh originated from China and has been gotten enthusiastic by Saigonese so now it has become immensely popular. Just walking around, you can easily see a Bot Chien Shop.
The most famous shop is the Dat Thanh Bot Chien Shop located at 277, Vo Van Tan. Aside from Fried Rice Flour Cake, this shop also sells Fried Macaroni, Vietnamese Garlic chives Thick Noodle Soup (Banh Canh He), and Vietnamese Beef Salad… All suit people loving junk food.
The most expensive Bot Chien Shop in Saigon is a sidewalk shop, opposite to 200B Phung Hung. Some said that the dishes in this shop are very delicious but others don’t understand why foods here are too expensive but still crowded? You can take a try if loving nosh.
11, Egg Roll Cake – Binh Thanh District
Egg Roll Cake has had no strange to Vietnamese food gourmets. However, how to make Egg Roll Cake in Binh Thanh District is quite special. Eggs will be fried soft-boiled before being rolled into the middle of super thin coated rice paper in place of being put directly into cake or mixed with powder like in other places.
When customers order, quickly, the sellers will fire eggs, coat cake and sprinkle a little finely chopped Jew’s ear so that customers can enjoy a hot and tasty dish.
A bite of the cake will make egg yolk flow out around the oral cavity, mingled with minced meat, fried onion and spicy, sour and sweet sauce. How is amazing!
12, Hau Ne – Tan Binh District
Have you ever heard Hau Ne yet? Certainly not, right? This is a unique, attractive and exotic dish you should try once at least when traveling Saigon which makes culinary enthusiasts excited in Saigon.
A ration of Hau Ne includes about 4-5 pretty big, fresh oysters put around a quite large egg, below is the sweet, spicy and greasy sauce and it is dotted extra some slices of onion and parsley over. Served with only a piece of crispy bread, you will never be able to forget the great taste of this new, creative dish.
13, Grilled Beef Roll with Cheese and Mochi Milk Tea – District 8
Grilled Beef Roll with Cheese – Another delicious and nutritious dish you can’t but eat once when visiting Saigon. Although this is a grilled dish plus cheese, it doesn’t make customers feel cloying because it is served with fresh vegetables and spicy, sweet and sour sauce.
Soft, slightly tough beef blended with greasy, tasty cheese will stimulate your taste strong. District 8 is the address of enjoying the delicious and cheap Grilled Beef Roll with Cheese.
After eating the greasy Grilled Beef Roll with Cheese, let you buy an extra plastic glass of mochi milk tea to avoid being cloying. The sweetness of milk tea combined with the crunchy, chewy mochi will make you love this “eat-drink” milk tea so much.
14, Goat Noodles – Go Vap District
Mentioning Saigon travel to enjoy the affordable, delicious, unique and attractive dishes, we can’t but mention goat noodles – a delicious dish from vision to taste.
A bowl of goat noodle is not only tasty and exotic but extremely eye-catching as well. In particular, you will be surprised when ordering goat noodle but seller serves you a bowl of full noodle and a bowl of goat meat marinated the tasty red sauce. When eating, you just need to put goat meat into your bowl of noodle, sprinkle sauce, add the fresh vegetable. That’s enough to eat your fill until at night.
The delicious, unique dishes in Saigon above are attractive, right? But not everyone knows them. Besides these, Saigon is considered as “a junk food heaven” with a bargain price compared to Hanoi. Thus, you can walk around streets to enjoy foods from any shops. “Saigon street cuisine” is always an interesting experience.