There are some dishes so synonymous with a country, so entwined in the national identity, that to visit and not sample a plate or bowl or stick means your visit was incomplete. Isn’t it on everyone’s ‘to do’ list to eat a juicy burger in America, a stone-baked pizza in Italy, or freshly sliced sushi in Japan? Well in Vietnam, the dish that must be tried over all others is their most popular noodle dish called pho (pronounced ‘fur’). Pho is eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner; from the highest tables in the land to street vendors with makeshift plastic tables. The chewy, white rice noodles and clear broth are garnished with chopped scallions, green herbs, and additional condiments such as segments of lime, chilli and garlic. Although pho is originally a northern Vietnamese dish, it is now a ubiquitous part of Vietnam’s rich culinary experience. The meat in pho can vary but it is usually either beef or chicken. Finding the best pho in Ho Chi Minh can be a real challenge so here are our five favourite places:
This section of Ho Chi Minh City restaurants caters to just about any traveller, comprising decades-old food stalls, quaint coffee shops, sophisticated restaurants, and expat-owned bistros. One of the most visited cities in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City’s culinary scene has grown exponentially with stylish dining venues serving international flavours such as French, Indian, Mexican, Italian, Japanese, Thai and Chinese. Of course, no trip to this vibrant city is complete without savouring local delicacies such as banh mi (French baguette) pho noodles, spring rolls, and banh xeo (savoury rice-flour crepe), all of which are easily available in local markets, roadside stalls and even high-end hotels. Arranged alphabetically for your convenience, read on for our handy guide on where and what to eat in Ho Chi Minh City.
Trois Pommes Restaurant offers French cuisine in a luxurious setting. Located in the five-star Tajmasago Castle Hotel, you will be able to taste some of the finest dishes while being served in style. Their black and white interior design gives a real feeling of luxury and truly ads to the ambiance.
Cafe Cardinal Saigon offers an extensive selection of continental cuisine by day and contemporary French dishes by night. Located on the sixth floor of five-star hotel The Reverie Saigon, this all-day restaurant is open, bright and breathes a real feeling of chic, attracting expats and travellers looking to splurge on a satisfying meal in Ho Chi Minh City. Interior-wise, Café Cardinal Saigon is fitted with luxury fixtures and furnishing imported from Italy, marble pillars and flooring, as well floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Nguyen Hue walking promenade. For breakfast, you can enjoy its extensive buffet and à la carte menus - standouts include the buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup, black cod with chorizo, and wok-fried lobster with black peppercorn.
Tram’s Cookery Restaurant & Bar is an upscale place, set next to the Saigon River, where you can enjoy traditional Vietnamese and western cuisine in a relaxing atmosphere or just have some drinks in tranquillity. It is part of the beautiful An Lam Riverside resort and a favourite of Saigon’s ‘elite’ community and expats living in Vietnam. Either by speedboat or taxi it will respectively take roughly 20 or 35 minutes to get there from the city centre.
La Brasserie is a seafood buffet restaurant located in the Nikko Hotel Saigon, and is one of the most recommended places in the city for seafood lovers. Their buffet is well known for its lobster, oysters, sashimi, shrimp, crab and more. During dinner you will be accompanied by live music which gives the place that a touch of sophistication. Forget images of pushly lines of diners all clambering for the freshest plates of food; the atmosphere at La Brasserie is classy and has a homely feel to it thanks to its interior and hospitality.
Hideaway Cafe Saigon is one of the most attractive coffee shops in Ho Chi Minh. Housed in a canary yellow French villa, it’s the kind of place you would never know was there if you didn’t look for it. The coffee shop is located a small alley on Pham Ngoc Thach Street, which is about a five-minute walk from the Turtle Lake roundabout in District 3.
You enter Hideaway Café Saigon through a gate and into a central courtyard. Either side, there are period buildings with high ceilings and small opulent touches redolent of the French colonial period. We recommend tables in the house at the front (even though this is the restaurant section).
Din Ky Restaurant is a seafood eatery known by locals for serving great fish noodles, spinach or Hong Kong breakfast in the morning, Vietnamese rice with vegetable and meat at noon and fresh seafood specialties at night. They are open 24 hours a day, so you are always welcome to get your craving for some good food taken care of. Din Ky Restaurant is an ideal place to have a birthday party, a banquet or simply to meet friends and enjoy delicious food.
Lemongrass Restaurant Saigon has been serving both locals and tourists since 1996, making it one of the oldest dining venues in Ho Chi Minh City. Nestled within District 1’s Nguyen Thiep Street (between the famous shopping street of Dong Khoi and the walking promenade of Nguyen Hue street), this restaurant offers authentic Vietnamese cuisine at surprisingly affordable prices. Occupying a three-storey French colonial building, the interior is set up like a French brasserie-style restaurant. Food-wise, Lemongrass Restaurant Saigon’s signature dishes include the baked prawns with garlic butter and almond (VND 189,000), grilled pork ribs with lemongrass (VND 159,000), and lemongrass-steamed clams (VND 119,000). For dessert, its homemade ice-cream (VND 79,000) and mixed tropical fruit platter (VND 89,000) come highly recommended.