Tuesday, 30 September 2014

10 Food Places To Try In Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam)

My picks for the food places to try in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) are appended below. If you are wondering what and where to eat in Ho Chi Minh, hopefully, this list of 10 Food Places To Try In Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam) would get you started. Happy Eating! 

1) Fanny Ice Cream
Fanny Ice Cream an ice cream parlor is located along Ton That Thiep Street, a 5 minutes walk away from Saigon Centre. Established in Vietnam in 1994 by Jean-Marc Bruno, a pastry specialist graduated from the renowned Le Nôtre Paris school, it manufactures and distributes its premium ice cream to over 1000 restaurants and hotels, and has 7 ice cream parlors in Vietnam. The beautifully presented Demi Bol consisted of a mix of sorbet and ice cream, chocolate sauce, almonds, caramel sauce, whipped cream and fruit salad.

Its franchise outlet recently opened in Singapore earlier this year. The Demi Bol in Singapore costs S$25.
Demi Bol 149,000 VND (S$8.95)

2) Kem Cong Truong (Kem Công Trường)
Kem Cong Truong, an eatery located next to Turtle Lake (Hồ Con Rùa) around 15 minutes walk from the Reunification Palace sells mainly small snacks, desserts and drinks. Established before the 70s with its neon signboard, it is well-known among the locals for its Coconut Ice Cream (Kem Trái Dừa); an authentic Vietnamese-style Coconut Ice Cream. True enough during our visit, we were the only tourist. Unlike the Thai Coconut Ice Cream, this came with traditional toppings; crushed peanuts, pineapple, and dried bananas and plums adding complexity to the taste and texture.
Coconut Ice Cream (Kem Trái Dừa) 

3) Nghi Xuan Restaurant (Nghi Xuân)
Nghi Xuan Restaurant is a boutique restaurant that specialises in traditional Vietnamese cuisine. The restaurant is located at the end of an alley opposite the Saigon Opera House. The Tiny Steamed Rice Cakes (Bánh bèo tôm chấy) which consisted of Shredded shrimp, pork lard and spring onions added on top of the rice cake is highly recommended.
Tiny steamed rice cakes (Bánh bèo tôm chấy) 68,000 VND (S$4.10)

4) Banh Xeo 46A (Quán Bánh Xèo 46A)
Banh Xeo 46A an eatery located along a small narrow road between shop houses is famous for its authentic Vietnamese Pancake known as Bánh Xèo. The Vietnamese Pancake was crisp, thin and slightly sweet with a hint of coconut fragrant. Its interior was filled with beansprouts, shrimps, onion, pork and mung beans. This is a must try! While you are there, you should also try their Spring Rolls (Chả Giò) 20,000 VND (S$1.20).
Vietnamese Pancake (Bánh Xèo) 60,000 VND (S$3.60)

5) 3T Quan Nuong (3T Quán Nướng)
3T Quan Nuong located next to Fanny Ice Cream, is an open air roof top Vietnamese Barbecue (BBQ) / Grilled restaurant. It is popular for its Roasted Prawn with Salt and Chilli (Tôm nướng muối ớt) which was consisted of grilling live prawns on wooden skewers. The prawns were fresh and dipping them into the lime, salt and chilli dipping sauce added a different dimension to the taste.
Roasted Prawn with Salt and Chilli (Tôm nướng muối ớt) (100g) 58,000 VND (S$3.50)

6) Pho Nho (Phố Nhỏ)
Pho Nho located along Nguyễn Đình Chiểu road, near War Remnant Museum serves Northern (Hanoi) style pho (beef noodles). Its interior was nicely designed to resemble the streets of Hanoi with its murals on the walls and traditional street lights and foot paths.

The Saute Beef Noodles Soup with Slices of Round Steak (Phở Áp Chảo) did not disappoint. Dipping the Crispy Chinese Roller (dough fritters) into the pho, reminded me of a particular dish back home. While you are there, you should also try the Yogurt mixed with Coconut Milk and Sweet Sticky Rice (Sữa chua nếp cẩm).
Saute Beef Noodles Soup with Slices of Round Steak (Phở Áp Chảo) 55,000 VND (S$3.30), Crispy Chinese Roller 30,000 VND per piece (S$1.80)

7) Hoa Dong (Quán Hoa Đông)
Hoa Dong is a small eatery located 5 minutes walk away from the North Gate (Cửa Bắc) of Ben Thanh Market. While Pho is a more commonly known food associated with Vietnam, you should not leave the country without trying the Glass Udon Soup with Crabmeat (Bánh Canh Cua) and Grilled Pork served with Rice Noodle (Bún Chả Thịt Nướng). Both dishes are a must try at Hoa Dong.
Grilled Pork served with Rice Noodle (Bún Chả Thịt Nướng) 60,000 VND (S$3.60), Glass Udon Soup with Crabmeat (Bánh Canh Cua) 65,000 VND (S$3.90)

BeefSteak Nam Son located along Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai at the end of  a long alley is popular among the locals for its Vietnamese style western food; beefsteak (Bít tết). The eatery opens as early as 6am as the locals love eating this for breakfast. The Nam Son Specialty Combination of Steak, Sunny Side Up Egg, Meatball and Pate (Beefsteak Thập Cẩm) is served on a sizzling hotplate. Shred the Baguette (Bánh Mì) into small pieces, dipped it into the sauce in the plate and spread the pate (minced pork liver) on it to experience how the locals eat it.
Nam Son Specialty Combination of Steak, Sunny Side Up Egg, Meatball and Pate (Beefsteak Thập Cẩm) 60,000 VND (S$3.60)

9) Ngoc Suong Marina (Ngọc Sương Sài Gòn)
Ngoc Suong Marina also known as Marina Saigon Seafood Cuisine is a Vietnamese seafood restaurant located along Nguyen Dinh Chieu road (near Pho Nho). The recommended dishes to order are the Ngoc Suong Fish Salad (Gỏi cá Ngọc Sương), Deep Fried Prawns With Salt and Pepper (Tôm sú chiên giòn rang muối tiêu), Crab with Tamarind Sauce (Cua rang me) and Seafood Fried Spring Roll (Chả giò hải sản).
Deep Fried Prawns With Salt and Pepper (Tôm sú chiên giòn rang muối tiêu) 205,000 VND (S$12.30), Crab with Tamarind Sauce (Cua rang me) 55,000 VND (S$3.30) per 100 gram

3G Trois Gourmands located in District 2 is around 20 to 40 minutes drive away from the city centre depending on traffic conditions. The restaurant located in a traditional colonial house with its interior beautifully furnished specialises in serving French cuisine. Their Set Menu offers a choice of 5, 6 or 7 Course meal at a nett price of USD40, USD45, USD50 respectively. Although the prices seems expensive, the food here was excellent and value for money considering the quality and quantity. You would have to pay much more to enjoy such food in Singapore.
Clockwise from top left:  Scallops Mashed Potatoes Truffle, Homemade Smoked Salmon, Duck Breast with Orange Sauce, Gils Dessert

Two Important Tips
1) Change money at goldsmith shop
The two goldsmith shops opposite “Cua Tay” gate number 5 (west gate) of Ben Thanh market on Phan Chu Trinh Street offers the best exchange rate. Better than the rates in Singapore.

2) Get a Vinasun Taxi
We did our research and knew that getting a good taxi was important to avoid getting rip off. The two most reliable taxis are Vinasun and MaiLinh. However, do note that there are alot of copycats with varied names such as Ma Linh, Mei Linh Vinasune, Vinason or Vinasum.
Source: Hello Saigon!
After an incident (read the last 3 para if you are intersested) that happened to us, we took just Vinasun taxi. We really learnt it the hard way. Faith restore in taking taxis in Vietnam. Thank you Vinasun. We also ensure that the Vinasun taxi was
      - a big taxi (the first car in the photo above). Not those small ones as copycats normally use those                   smaller ones
      - window are not tinted
      - wear maroon tie

At the airport, if you want to get a Vinasun taxi, head left once you exit from the airport's arrival hall (where there are people waiting for their friends, family, or clients). Walk to the far left, end of the taxi stand, you will spot Vinasun wardens wearing dark green shirts with maroon ties. The airport is not far from the city and should cost about 150,000 VND around 30 to 40 minutes depending on traffic.

Rip Off Incident (sharing this to spread the awareness and help more people avoid such situations)
Despite our research, we were ripped off on our first night. We spotted a MaiLinh taxi and board it. The driver was wearing a tie, had his photo displayed on the dashboard and on the meter. Seems to be the right (genuine) taxi. The first sign that something was not right was that he was impatient; drove very fast and cut into the opposite lane of the road despite other vehicles honking. In addition, the meter jumped very quickly. It was at this moment I noticed that the side-windows for passengers were slightly tinted (oh shit..). It did not help that our destination was Cuc Gach Quan, located at a quiet private residential area.

The taxi driver drove us to the restaurant, showed us the restaurant and then move forward a little as there was a security guard there. We then paid him the meter fee of 350,000 VND which was ridiculously considering that it should be below 100,000 VND (S$21). He locked us in and demand more money (than what showed up in the meter) shouting and even throwing newspaper at us. Knowing that this was not a battle that we should fight, we slowly gave him more and more. But he kept asking for more.  The process repeated (i.e. shout, throw newspaper, give abit of money) several times. We kept asking for him to open the door but he turned even more aggressive. Lucky for us, another security guard in charge of a residential a few units ahead sensed that something was amissed and walked up. We kept waving at him as the front window was not tinted (at this time, a staff from Cuc Gach Quan also came over) and the driver quickly opened the door, told us to get out and drove off.

The security guard managed to record the number of the taxi and we explained the incident to them through a staff who understood English. The staff of the restaurant called up MaiLinh to lodge a case for us. Unfortunately, the company stated that they had no such taxi number and claimed that the driver did not belong to their company. In total, we paid slightly more than 450,000 VND (S$27) to the driver. But what matter was that we were safe..


  1. Rip off? I was too esp for the rickshaw ride. Other than that, it was save because I was in tour, so nothing unwanted took place. Perhaps another thing: bargain like crazy when buying things. Vietnam food? all the way my kind.

    1. Oh, I never took any rickshaw ride in HCM. Yes, I bargained like crazy when buying clothes and food!


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