It is true that Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon) has hundreds of foods. You can find whatever you would like to eat in this city. It is a great place to enjoy international dishes as well as traditional and street foods from different regions of Vietnam. The city has a Cambodian market where you can eat Cambodian foods, Saigon China Town with lots of Chinese foods. It has Ba Hoa Market where many specialty foods of Quang provinces in Central Vietnam.
You can find Pho restaurants and places to eat Hue foods around the city easily. Many visitors may wonder which are the specialty foods of Saigon. What are the must-eat foods in Ho Chi Minh City? And where to eat them? Let me tell you about the foods which originated from Saigon and should not miss in the city. I also share with you 5 Must-eat Foods in Ho Chi Minh City, the best places to eat, and how to eat them to the fullest.
1. Broken Rice or Com Tam
Broken Rice is a favorite food in Saigon and you can find it easily on the streets. One of the highlights of this food is broken rice, which is 2 or 3 times smaller than normal rice. So that the steamed broken rice is more comfortable to eat. Saigon people eat Broken rice (Steamed broken rice) for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or supper. Although this food has many versions, they may show you a diverse menu consisting of many toppings for the broken rice. Braised Pork and Egg, Grilled Pork Patties (Nem Nuong), Grilled pork ribs, Fried fishes, Fish Pie (Cha ca).
You should eat steamed broken rice, accompanied by Grilled Pork Chop (Suon), Pig Skin Strips (Bi), Pork and Egg Cake (Cha). We usually call the combination “Suon Bi Cha”. They also top the steamed broken rice with pickles (daikon and carrot), cucumber. They usually serve the dish on a plate and you will eat it with a fork and a spoon. A small bowl or a dip bowl of sweet and sour fish sauce dip is also served. At some restaurants, they put a jar of dipping sauce, a jar of red chili pepper (fresh or sauce), and some clean bowls at the tables. Dinners get the dip and chili pepper at their wish. Use the fork to eat Grilled Pork Chop, Pork, and Egg Cake by your left hand. Use the spoon to pour the dip onto the rice and eat it with pickles, cucumber. You can split the pork chop into small pieces, dip them into the fish sauce, then eat with the rice.
Broken rice topped with grilled pork chop, cucumber slices, carrot and daikon pickles, sweet and sour dipping fish sauce – Photo by Scooter Saigon Tour
Best places to eat Broken Rice in Ho Chi Minh City:
- Com Tam Thu Thao, 459 – 461, Le Dai Hanh Street, District 11, Ho Chi Minh City; Opening hours: 9:00 – 19:00; Prices: from 40,000 VND.
- Com Tam Thuan Kieu, 26 Ton That Tung Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City; Opening hours: 10:00 – 20:45; Prices: 25,000 – 275,000 VND; Website: http://comtamthuankieu.com.vn
- Com Tam Tu Map, 812 Su Van Hanh Street, Ward 12, District 10, Ho Chi Minh City; Opening hours: 7:00 – 14:00; 17:00 – 21:00; Prices: 15, 000 – 60,000 VND.
- Com Tam Ba Ghien, 291 Nguyen Tri Phuong Street, Ward 5, District 10, Ho Chi Minh City; Opening hours: 7:00 – 21:00; Prices: 35,000 – 85,000 VND.
- Com Tam Nguyen Van Cu, 167 Nguyen Tri Phuong Street, Ward 2, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City; Opening hours: 6:30 – 15:00; Prices: 50,000 – 130,000 VND.
- Com Tam Kieu Giang, 192E Tran Quang Khai Street, Tan Dinh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City; Opening hours: 7:00 – 22:00; Prices: 40,000 – 70,000 VND.
- Com Tam Cali, 32 Nguyen Trai Street, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City; Website: https://www.comtamcali.com.
Learn more about other Best Places to eat Broken Rices in Ho Chi Minh City HERE.
2. Noodles with Grilled Pork or Bun Thit Nuong
The noodles are usually served in a bowl and topped with various toppings. The toppings include Grilled Pork, Fried Rolls, Grilled Beef in Wild Betel, Grilled Pork Patties, Crushed toasted peanuts, and green onion oil. Vegetables including cucumber, bean sprouts, lettuce, and herbs could not be missed. The sweet and sour dipping sauce – the soul of this food is served separately. Pour the dipping sauce into the bowl, mix everything and eat with chopsticks.
Rice noodles with grilled pork, fried roll, pickles, green onion oil, peanuts – Photo by Scooter Saigon Tour
Best places to eat Noodles with Grilled Pork in Ho Chi Minh City:
- Bun Thit Nuong Co Ba, 287/68 Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street, Ward 5, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City; Opening hours: 13:00 – 21:00; Prices: 33,000 – 38,000 VND.
- Bun Thit Nuong Chi Tuyen, 175 Co Giang Street, Co Giang Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City; Opening hours: 7:00 – 20:00; Prices: 30,000 – 66,000 VND.
- Bun Thit Nuong Vi Sai Gon, 87 Nguyen Tri Phuong Street, Ward 8, District 10, Ho Chi Minh City; Opening hours: 5:00 – 22:00; Prices: 38,000 – 52,000 VND.
- Bun Thit Nuong Ba Them, Alley 88 Nguyen Hue Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City; Opening hours: 8:00 – 16:00; Prices: 35,000 – 45,000 VND.
Learn more about other Best Places to eat Noodles with Grilled Pork in Ho Chi Minh City HERE.
3. Snail Dishes
How many times have you seen lovely snails in your countries? Where have you found them? Vietnamese people are familiar with snails at local wet markets and snail restaurants. In Saigon, they usually eat snail dishes at night so that most of the snail restaurants open in the evening. A few snail restaurants open during the day. Eating snail has become a cultural part of the city.
There are tens of types of snail and not less than a dozen of cooking methods for each snail for your choice at the restaurant. Mud-creeper, sweet snail, garlic snail, edible snail are popular snails. You can ask them to grill without or with green onion oil/cheese/salt and chili pepper, stir-fried with coconut milk/butter/sautee/tamarind sauce the snails. Besides snail dishes, most of the snail restaurants serve Grilled/Boiled Blood Cockle, Grilled Scallop with Green Onion Oil, Steamed Clams with Lemongrass, Toasted Ocean Crab with Salt and Chili Pepper, Fermented Duck Egg. Many of the dishes are served with Vietnamese mint which helps to balance the taste and smell of the foods. There are various dipping sauces such as sweet and sour fish sauce dip and salt black pepper lime juice sauce.
Local people usually suck a mud-creeper at its mouth to eat its meat. To remove the meat of other snails, they usually use bamboo sticks. You should learn how to eat these amazing foods at the restaurant with the help of a local. Before eating, do not forget to dip the snail meat in the dip.
Grilled humble Giac snail – Photo by Scooter Saigon Tour
Best places to eat Snail Dishes in Ho Chi Minh City:
- Oc Dao, 212/C79 Nguyen Trai Street, Nguyen Cu Trinh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City; Open time: 10:00 – 22:30; Prices: 50,000 – 100,000 VND; Highlight: located in an alley where you can immerse into local life.
- Oc Tre Mot, B10 Thanh Thai Street, Ward 14, District 10, Ho Chi Minh City; Open time: 11:00 – 23:59; Prices: 70,000 – 120,000 VND; Highlight: spacious restaurants.
- Oc Quang Anh, 189 To Hien Thanh Street, Ward 13, District 10, Ho Chi Minh City; Open time: 13:00 – 23:00; Prices: 50,000 – 110,000 VND; Highlight: located in a crowded food area.
- Oc Oanh, 534 Vinh Khanh Street, Ward 8, District 4, Ho Chi Minh City; Open time: 16:00 – 23:00; Prices: 50,000 – 165,000 VND; Highlights: big snails, clams, and seafood, good location in Vinh Khanh Street – a paradise of snail lovers.
- Oc Khanh, 25/5 Nguyen Binh Khiem Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City; Open time: 12:00 – 22:00; Prices: 35,000 – 90,000 VND; Highlights: owned by Ms. Le Khanh – a famous artist in Saigon.
4. Vietnamese Pancakes
Vietnamese Pancake or Banh Xeo is one of the most famous Vietnamese traditional cake. After applying some oil onto the pan/wok, the cook pours the batter into the pan, then add the fillings and cover the lid. When the cake is ready, it makes a sound “sizzling” which means “xeo” in Vietnamese. That is the reason why we call it Banh Xeo.
There are many versions of Banh Xeo in different regions of the countries. The cakes come in different sizes, ingredients, and cooking techniques. However, all Banh Xeo versions are in yellow color, have a crispy crust, served with vegetables, herbs, and dipping fish sauce. I would like to recommend to eat the Southern Vietnamese Pancake in Saigon. In South Vietnam, the pancake’s crust is thin and large. The pancake in South Vietnam is often filled with bean sprouts, mung beans, pork belly, and shrimp. To eat the cake, wrap a piece of the crust, fillings, herbs in one or two leaves of lettuce, mustard greens, or Creek Premna leaves.
A portion of Vietnamese pancake consists of vegetables, herbs, pickles, pancake, and dipping fish sauce – Photo by Scooter Saigon Tour
How to cook Vietnamese Pancake? – Video by Scooter Saigon Tour
Best places to eat Vietnamese Pancakes in Ho Chi Minh City:
- Banh Xeo An La Ghien, 74 Suong Nguyet Anh Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City; Opening hours: 9:00 – 23:00; Prices: 15,000 – 130,000 VND.
- Banh Xeo Dinh Cong Trang (known as the oldest Banh Xeo restaurant in Saigon), 46A Dinh Cong Trang Street, Tan Dinh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City; Opening hours: 9:30 – 14:00; 16:00 – 21:00; Prices: 55,000 – 320,000 VND.
- Banh Xeo Ngoc Son, 103 Ngo Quyen Street, Ward 11, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City; Opening hours: 9:00 – 21:00; Prices: 40,000 – 110,000 VND.
- Quan An, 71/5 – 6 Mac Thi Buoi Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City; Opening hours: 9:00 – 22:30; Prices: 60,000 – 150,000 VND.
- Co Ba Vung Tau, 40B Tran Cao Van Street, Ward 6, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City; Opening hours: 7:00 – 22:00; Prices: 20,000 – 205,000 VND; Website: http://cobavungtau.com.
5. Pan Fried Scrambled Egg Rice Cake
Pan Fried Scrambled Egg Rice Cake is a simple food which consists of square pieces of boiled rice, fried with egg, topped with shredded green papaya, and eaten with dipping soy sauce. Many people do not understand why this food make them addicted. Although the food is a little oily, it is worth trying in Saigon. You can not find the best Pan Fried Scrambled Egg Rice Cakes out of the city. Good news for you, you will eat this food with a spoon and a fork. Before eating, you should pour the soy sauce onto the cake and the papaya.
How to cook Pan Fried Scrambled Egg Rice Cake? – Video by Scooter Saigon Tour
A portion of Bot chien consists of pieces of boiled rice flour, fried with egg, green onion, shredded green papaya, shredded carrot (optional), and dipping soy sauce – Photo by Scooter Saigon Tour
Best places to eat Pan Fried Scrambled Egg Rice Cake in Ho Chi Minh City:
- Bot Chien Dat Thanh, 277 Vo Van Tan Street, Ward 5, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City; Opening hours: 14:00 – 21:00; Prices: 20,000 – 30,000 VND.
- Mi Xao, Bot Chien – Nguyen Kim, 187 Nguyen Kim Street, Ward 6, District 10, Ho Chi Minh City; Opening hours: 18:00 – 23:00; Prices: 15,000 – 20,000 VND.
- Bot Chien – Phung Khac Khoan, 63 Phung Khac Khoan Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City; Opening hours: 16:00 – 23:00; Prices: 15,000 – 25,000 VND.
- Bot Chien – Hoang Sa, 757 Hoang Sa Street, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City; Opening hours: 7:00 – 22:00; Prices: 15,000 – 20,000 VND.
- Bot Chien – Huynh Kim – Banh Mi Chien Tom – Le Hong Phong, C006 Le Hong Phong, Chung Cu Le Hong Phong, Ward 2, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City; Opening hours: 6:00 – 21:00; Prices: 9,000 – 12,000 VND.
Because Saigon offers hundreds of foods, it is not easy to list 5 Must-eat Foods in Ho Chi Minh City. I have tried my best to introduce to you the most special local foods and the best places to eat them. I hope you will eat them to the fullest. However, reaching the local restaurants outside of District 1 sometimes is difficult for foreigners. A Saigon Food Tour is a great choice to immerse into the city life, enjoy all the exotic foods with your tour guides as friends.
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