VietnamFood & DrinksWhat to Eat in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon)

What to Eat in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon)

If you’re a foodie and you want to visit Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) is the place to go. The vast diversity of the city’s food culture might overwhelm new travelers. We have listed some of the best recommendations for what to eat in Ho Chi Minh.

Vietnamese Cuisine and Where to Find Them in Ho Chi Minh

Food is, in fact, a pretty well-covered topic in our blogs so far; we’ve talked about Vietnam’s signature dishes like banh xeo and banh mi, to bizarre words of insects in the city of Ho Chi Minh, as well as recommended good restaurants and food streets around the city. Today, we would like to present an extensive list of must-try Vietnamese foods this diverse city always has available for its residents and visitors. Let’s dive into it!

Noodles

PhoBun Bo HueBo KhoBun ChaBun Thit NuongTapioca Noodle (Banh Canh)Bun rieu

Rice, Sticky rice, and “Bánh”

Com TamSticky RiceBanh CuonBanh BeoBanh Xeo, Banh KhotBanh Mi

Street foods

Papaya Salad (Goi Du Du/Goi Kho Bo)Vietnamese Pizza (Banh Trang Nuong)SnailsBo la lotGrilled BananaDesserts

Exotic foods

Black ChickenInsectsBalut

Drinks

CoffeeEgg CoffeeWeasel CoffeeSugarcane JuiceBubble TeaBeer

Signature Dishes of Vietnamese Cuisine

Banh mi (Vietnamese Baguette)

Banh mi and pho are undoubtedly two of Vietnam’s best culinary creations, and Ho Chi Minh City is the best place to eat them. Why? In Ho Chi Minh City, banh mi and pho are so diverse, available, flavorful, and affordable! These are like the staples for the locals, perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or just simply for a tasteful quick bite.

Let’s be more explicit about the ‘diverse’ element of Vietnamese food. The basic version of banh mi is thin slices of pork sausage and other cold cuts, plus paté, pork floss, pickles, cilantro, and cucumber stuffed in small-sized baguettes. But in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon), countless other kinds of banh mi are on the counter: banh mi cha ca (fried fish patties), banh mi op la (sunny-side-up), banh mi xiu mai (meatballs and tomato sauce), banh mi ca moi (canned sardines), banh mi heo quay (roasted pork with crispy skin), and so on. Another thing that sets one vendor apart from others is the owners’ family recipes for their special sauce.

what-to-eat-ho-chi-minh-banh-mi
Vietnamese signature Banh Mi

Pho (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup)

Similarly with pho, besides the basic version of noodles and rare beef in sophisticatedly made broth, the varieties of pho you can have in Ho Chi Minh are surplus: various beef cuts – flank, crunchy flank, fatty brisket, tendon, and tripe, then intricate pho cuon (noodle rolls) or intriguing pho kho (pho without broth or with broth in a separate bowl).

Prices for all these tasty feats start from only US$ 1 for banh mi and US$ 2 for pho.

what-to-eat-ho-chi-minh-pho

Lesser-known Vietnamese Food- What to Eat in Ho Chi Minh

Besides the famous pho, Vietnamese foods offer other styles of delectable noodle soup. Despite their different origins, most soups can be easily found in Ho Chi Minh.

Hu Tieu (Rice Noodles Soup)

Hu Tieu soup includes thin, clear noodles in aromatic pork broth, with surplus toppings including pork slices, shrimps, squid, pork liver, fresh herbs and bean sprouts. Hu tieu vendors in Saigon are open for business almost 24/7 because it is simply a never-dying demand to have a bowl of hu tieu.

Bun Bo Hue (Spicy Beef Noodle Soup)

This dish is a creation of the Hue people (hence the name), who live in central Vietnam and are well-known across the country for their culinary expertise. The noodles in bun bo Hue differ from those in pho: they are rounder in shape and fuller in texture (pho noodles are thin). The broth is spicy and has an orange color, unlike the clear broth of pho. And beef in bun bo Hue is a well-done flank, along with Hue aromatic pork cold cuts. A feast of flavors in just one bowl is a must-try for what to eat in Ho Chi Minh City.

what-to-eat-ho-chi-minh-bun-bo
Bun Bo Hue

Bun Cha Ca (Noodles/Rice Vermicelli Soup with Fried Fish Cakes)

Nha Trang is one of the best beach cities in Vietnam and is home to the tasty dish of bun cha ca. The broth is clear and tastes a bit lighter than pho broth (since the bone used to cook broth is fishbone, as opposed to the beef bone of pho broth); fried fish patty (cha ca) is just a rough translation of an exclusive specialty of Vietnam’s coastal cities – you’ve got to taste it to know it!

what-to-eat-ho-chi-minh-bun-cha-ca

Bun Ca Mien Tay (Fish Noodles Soup)

The Mekong Delta people (in the southwest of Vietnam) make full use of freshwater fish in their version of noodle soup – bun ca. Unlike Nha Trang, Southwest people love their fish simple-boiled. But they add little details like more fresh herbs and fried onions to enhance the rich flavor of their noodle soup. Perhaps the water of their region makes their broth outstanding

Sticky Rice

The one dish that so many Vietnamese (especially students) hold dear is xoi (sticky rice). Sticky rice in different colors (the regular white, to eye-catching purple, orange, and green – from the natural color of the vital ingredient, not some toxic coloring, of course) served with pork floss, thin slices of pork cold cuts, and fried shallot, plus a tasty savory sauce is perfect for your energy boost.

what-to-eat-ho-chi-minh-sticky-rice

Bun Thit Nuong (Rice Vermicelli and Grilled Pork)

Another noodle dish but this time with no broth at all: Bun thit nuong – a bowl of flavors from rice vermicelli, grilled marinated pork slices, fried spring rolls, crushed peanuts, fresh herbs, cucumber, and the star is sweet-and-sour fish sauce with carrot pickles in it! A no-brainer for breakfast among the locals!

what-to-eat-ho-chi-minh-bun-thit-nuong

Street Foods That Make Ho Chi Minh People Proud

It would not be complete talking about Vietnamese foods without talking about street foods! Street food vendors are everywhere in Ho Chi Minh city, serving palatable quick bites. Below are a few outstanding names.

Goi Cuon (Summer Rolls)

Energy-filled rolls of rice vermicelli, boiled pork slices, shrimp, lettuce, and other fresh herbs to be dipped in a special sauce (rich and thick), and topped with pickles and crushed peanuts. US$1 for 2 to 3 filling rolls that can keep you going…for the next street eat!

goi-cuon

Banh Trang Tron (Rice Paper Salad)

Rice paper (banh trang) is a super standard product of Vietnam, used very often in every house kitchen. It is used to roll the famous spring rolls (cha gio) and summer rolls (goi cuon), but it has also become the soul of a much-loved street food – banh trang tron. In this dish, rice paper is thin, small pieces mixed with different types of flavorful sauce, topped with quail eggs and shredded mango (unripe). It’s a very light snack and exciting taste.

Banh Trang Nuong (Grilled Rice Paper)

Rice paper again plays a key role, although the type used for banh trang nuong is much thicker. For this dish, a round piece of thick rice paper is grilled with surplus toppings – quail eggs, minced pork (already cooked), dried shrimps (small shrimps), and when the eggs are cooked, mayonnaise, chili sauce, and ketchup are added on top. Try this fascinating concoction once if you come to Ho Chi Minh.

what-to-eat-ho-chi-minh-banh-trang-nuong

Sea Snails

Blessed with a rich system of channels and rivers, the southern land of Vietnam enjoys a wide variety of snails and shellfish. These natural ingredients become amazing dishes thanks to the ultimate creativity of Vietnam’s southern cooks. Seasoning is the key to shellfish and sea snail dishes in Ho Chi Minh City. Cooks use tamarind sauce, butter, cheese, onion, and sautée or grill the shellfish to make a special dish.

what-to-eat-ho-chi-minh-snails

Irresistible Sweets and Desserts in Ho Chi Minh City

Che (Sweet Soup)

Che is no doubt the first lister when it comes to Vietnamese sweets and desserts. Different kinds of beans and toppings create different types of che. Most commonly, we have che from mung beans (green beans), black beans, or red beans, and toppings are typically made from tapioca starch.

what-to-eat-ho-chi-minh-vietnamese-sweet-soup

Ice Cream

We have pretty unique ice cream flavors: durian ice cream, banana ice cream, longan ice cream, and coconut ice cream – all very tropical fruits. Even though you can easily find durian and coconut ice cream by some local brands in Ho Chi Minh’s supermarkets and convenience stores, finding a Vietnamese ice cream shop may be a bit more challenging. Su Van Hanh Street in District 10 can be a good start if you fancy sampling Vietnamese ice cream.

Sam Bo Luong (Energy Cocktails)

Sam bo luong has a lot of toppings: Chinese dried apples, lotus seeds, ginkgo nuts, dried logans, and dried seaweeds. With its Chinese origin, all of its components are meant to be light, refreshing, and healthy.

what-to-eat-ho-chi-minh-sam-bo-luong

Rau Cau Dua (Coconut Jelly)

Coconut jelly has two layers: the transparent bottom layer from coconut juice and the white top layer from coconut milk. It’s a very Vietnamese jelly, lovely to taste!

Incredibly Varied Vegan Menus

We don’t know about other countries, but we think vegan dishes in Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City are incredibly diverse and delectable. Vietnamese vegan cooks can create a vegan copy of any favorite dish of the meat-eaters, from noodle soups like pho and bun bo Hue to all the regular main words starring pork and beef.

Vegan restaurants are often situated near Buddhist monasteries and pagodas. Check out this list of vegetarian restaurants in Ho Chi Minh for more details!

what-to-eat-ho-chi-minh-veggie-curry
Vietnamese interpretation of vegetarian curry

Summary of What to Eat in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon)

These mouthwatering Vietnamese foods are widely available and super affordable in Ho Chi Minh (or Saigon, as locals call them). Above are some of the must-try when visiting the city, but don’t be afraid to branch out and explore more cuisines. The unknown might be a pleasant surprise.

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