Top Local Restaurants and Street Food Stalls in Ho Chi Minh City

Although there are hundreds of things to do in Ho Chi Minh, you should not miss local foods – one of the biggest parts of the city. Which foods to eat in Saigon is a frequently asked question. There are lots of recommended eating places and foods so that you are amongst choices. Below is a list of the top Ho Chi Minh Restaurants and Street Food Stalls in different districts. Most of them last dozens of years and have been favorite places of local people. The foods listed in this blog are the most popular, delicious at the restaurants and stalls. Working in the Vietnamese tourism industry, taking thousands of travelers to local restaurants and serving them many amazing Saigon foods, I have summarized the Top Ho Chi Minh Restaurants and Street Food Stalls and foods that foreigners like best. I hope that you have a chance to visit Saigon, taste these amazing foods and love them like us.

Top Ho Chi Minh Restaurants and Street Food Stalls AT NIGHT

1. Bot Chien Dat Thanh

Location: 227 Vo Van Tan Street, Ward 5, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City. View on Google Maps.

Opening hours: 14:00 – 21:00.

Restaurant

Bot Chien Dat Thanh (Bột Chiên Đạt Thành, Dat Thanh Egg Rice Cake Restaurant)  is one of the oldest and the best restaurants serving Pan-fried scrambled egg rice cake in Ho Chi Minh City. It has been open for over 30 years. Located in District 3 which is considered the center of Ho Chi Minh City, the restaurant is a favorite spot of many Saigon foodies.

The restaurant has two floors on which stainless and plastic tables and chairs are arranged tidily. . There are tens of ceiling fans and wall mounted fans so that the restaurant is airy and comfortably cool. Although the restaurant is always crowded with lots of customers, there are always enough places for customers. Some like eating at the restaurant, the other buy the foods and take them away. Plastic cutlery storage holder containing chopsticks, spoons, forks, chili sauce, sautee, ground chili pepper, bamboo toothpaste, are available on the tables.

In the front of the restaurant, customers can see a local chef is frying Bot Chien – the specialty of this eatery. Next to the area of cooking Bot Chien, there is a steamer in which special dumplings are warmed. A glass cart where they make Bo pia rolls and Spring roll is located at the back of the restaurant on the first floor.

front of bot chien dat thanh restaurant saigon

The front of Bot Chien Dat Thanh Restaurant. On the lightening board written name of the restaurant, the foods it serves, address and phone number.

Bot Chien Dat Thanh Restaurant, Saigon

The cook fries the cake in front of the restaurant. The fan helps to cool the air around the cook.

The Second floor of Bot Chien Dat Thanh Restaurant

It is less crowded on the Second floor of Bot Chien Dat Thanh Restaurant.

first floor of Bot Chien Dat Thanh Restaurant Saigon

The first floor of Bot Chien Dat Thanh Restaurant. A glass shell where a cook makes Spring rolls, Bo pia rolls is located in the back of the floor.

Bot chien

Bot chien (Bột chiên, Pan-fried scrambled egg rice cake) is made from rice flour, tapioca flour, eggs, green onions, eaten with dipping soy sauce and shredded green papaya.

Why eat this food in Saigon?

Bot chien has been a favorite food of many Saigon people for over 50 years. It is not only a delicious food but also a part of Saigon culture. This food originated in China, most of Bot chien stalls in the city are owned by Chinese or Chinese-born in Saigon. However, it is not a food of Chinese because there have been many changes in cooking and eating this food.

Saigon people like to add sugar to soups, dipping sauces, braised dishes, etc. They also like to eat main dishes with vegetables and herbs. Shredded papaya is a popular ingredient of many Vietnamese foods such as Fermented shrimp and shredded papaya, Beef jerky and green papaya salad. The sweet dipping soy sauce and shredded papaya served with Bot chien is a great example of the perfect mix of Chinese and Saigon cuisines.

The pavement in front of the restaurant is rather large so that you can park your motorbike easily.

How to cook?

Make steamed rice flour:

  • Make the dough by mixing rice flour, tapioca starch, water well.
  • Put the dough into a mold, steam it until well-done. The ready steamed rice flour should not be too dry but not too wet, not too tender but not too hard. The steamed rice flour should be white, sticky enough and has the smell of newly harvested rice.
  • Cut the steamed dough into small rectangular pieces which are about 5 cm long, 5 cm wide, and 2 cm thick.

Fry pieces of steamed rice flour:

  • Put a number of pieces of steamed rice flour into a large flat round pan with boiling oil.
  • Fry the steamed rice flour pieces until golden and crispy outside.
  • Crack one or more eggs, beat the eggs until the yolks and whites are blended.
  • Pour the mixture of egg yolks and whites onto the pieces of steamed rice flour.
  • Fry steadily until golden on the underside.
  • Turn over with the help of a food turner, fry steadily until golden on the underside.
  • Top the cake with some chopped green onions.
  • Get the cake out of the pan skillfully. The oil should be drained out.
Bot chien is fried in a flat round pan

Bot chien is fried in a flat round pan. A turner and a spoon are used to turn the sides of cakes.

How to serve?

  • At Dat Thanh Restaurant, Pan-fried scrambled egg rice cake is served in a plate with a plate of shredded green papaya and a dip bowl of sweet soy sauce.
pan-fried egg rice cake eaten with shredded green papaya

Pan-fried egg rice cake is eaten with shredded green papaya and soy sauce dip.

How to eat?

As mentioned above, this food is served with sweet dipping soy sauce and crisp shredded green papaya.

  • This food must be eaten hot when it is still crispy.
  • Top the Frying scrambled egg rice cake with shredded green papaya.
  • Pour the dip bowl of dipping soy sauce into the plate of Bot chien and papaya.
  • Eat the food with forks.
  • The dip plays off the crispy outside, sticky and tender inside Fried steamed rice and egg cake and the papaya balance the flavors and make the food less oily and greasy.

Iced tea

Iced tea is one of the cheapest and most popular drinks in Vietnam and Saigon. If Americans like sipping cokes when they eat hamburgers, Vietnamese including Saigon people like to drink Iced tea while eating. Iced tea goes well with Bot chien because it serves as a palette cleanser.

Dumplings

Dumplings at Bot Chien Dat Thanh Restaurant consist of pieces of rice flour and tapioca flour dough wrapped around a filling made from pork, then steamed, eaten with sweet soy sauce, deep-fried shallots (hành phi), Vietnamese mint (rau răm).

Why eat Dumplings in Saigon?

Dumplings also originated in China but it has been changed for overtime. The original dumplings are eaten only with plain soy sauce. Today, Saigon people eat dumplings served with sweet soy sauce, deep-fried shallots, Vietnamese mint. Similar to Bot chien, the Dumplings show the mix of two cultures and cuisines.

How to serve?

  • At Dat Thanh Restaurant, the dumplings are served with sweet soy sauce, deep-fried shallots (hành phi), Vietnamese mint (rau răm) in one plate.

How to eat?

  • Use a spoon or fork to get a piece of dumpling, fried shallots, a few leaves of Vietnamese mint. Then tuck in.
  • The crust is tender and sticky at the same time, the filling is sweet-tasty, tender but a little chewy. Fresh Vietnamese mint is a little spicy and has a great smell so that this herb pairs well with the dumplings.
Dumplings served with deep-fried onions and Vietnamese mint

Dumplings served with deep-fried onions and Vietnamese mint

Bo pia roll (savory)

Bo pia roll consists of Lap xuong sausage, fried eggs, jicamas, carrots, dried tiny shrimps, lettuce, herbs, wrapped in Pia rice paper which is tender and sticky. The sauce is the soul of this amazing roll, it is made from soybean paste, shallots, garlic, pork broth, tapioca flour, oil, peanuts, chili sauce, sugar.

How to serve?

  • Bo pia roll is served with a dip bowl of special sauce, topped with crushed peanuts.

How to eat?

  • Dip Bo pia roll in the special sauce, then bite the roll. You can feel the wonderful blend of the ingredients and the sauce.
Bo pia rolls in Vietnam

Attractive Bo pia rolls, eaten with the special sauce.

2. Bo La Lot Co Lieng

Bo La Lot Co Lieng or Bò Lá Lốt Cô Liêng

Location: 321 Vo Van Tan Street, Ward 5, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City. View on Google Maps.

Opening hours: 8:30 – 21:30.

Restaurant

Bo La Lot Co Lieng Restaurant was established in 1995. Located on Vo Van Tan Street, The restaurant is small and narrow. The restaurant is not very spacious, tables and chairs are arranged close together. They grill the beef on the outdoor charcoal grill right on the pavement. The wonderful smell of grilled beef makes you watering when you arrive at the restaurant. The restaurant is named after the owner Mrs. Lieng (Cô Liêng in Vietnamese).

Bo La Lot Co Lieng Restaurant at night.

Bo La Lot Co Lieng Restaurant

Bo La Lot Co Lieng Restaurant

Grilled beef in wild betel (Bò lá lốt, Bo la lot)

Grilled beef in wild betel is a roll consisting of wild betel wrappers and the filling made from beef and spices, sometimes ground pork and fat, peanuts. The sauce is made from fermented fish (Mắm nêm), pineapple, garlic, lime juice, black pepper, chili pepper (optional).

Why eat Bo la lot in Saigon?

Although Saigon has not less than one hundred foods, Bo la lot is an impressive food that could not be missed in Saigon. The mix of wild betel and ground beef is a creative recipe ever. The mix of smells of these two ingredients is really perfect. It is interesting to learn about the way that Bo la lot is made and eaten and taste the unique sauce. Can you recognize it is made from fermented fish?

How to cook?

  • Mix ground beef, spices, ground pork and fat, peanuts (optional).
  • Use a few fresh leaves of wild betel in green color to wrap a portion of the beef mixture in into a roll which is as small as a human finger.
  • Grill the rolls on charcoal while changing its side continuously until leaves of wild betel turn dark green, nearly black.
Rolls of beef in wild betel are grilled on charcoal

Rolls of Bo la lot are grilled on charcoal

How to serve?

  • This roll is served with rice noodles, woven rice vermicelli sheet, sauces, vegetables, and herbs. Some people like to wrap the roll, rice noodles/woven rice, vegetables and herbs, vermicelli sheet in rice paper into a roll to eat.
  • At Co Lieng Restaurant, you will be served rolls of Grilled beef in wild betel, rice noodles, rice paper, sliced cucumber, carrot and daikon pickles, green banana, star-fruits, herbs including heart leaves (diếp cá), Thai/sweet basils (húng quế), spearmint (húng lủi), lettuce (xà lách).

Grilled beef in wild betel is served with lots of vegetables and herbs, green banana slices, star fruit slices, pickled daikon, and carrot strips, rice noodles (woven rice vermicelli sheets, rice paper wrappers and a special sauce.

How to eat?

  • Place the rice paper on the plate.
  • Use a leaf of lettuce to moist the rice paper and make it easier to wrap.
  • Place one roll of Grilled beef, a little of each ingredient on the rice paper.
  • Wrap the fillings into a roll.
  • Dip the roll in the dip.
  • The dip goes well with the beef in wild betel.
  • All of the ingredients are dancing and singing in your mouth. The difference of this roll is the unique smell and taste of Vietnamese beef wrapped in wild betel leaves. And I guess you would like to eat more and more rolls.
How to wrap Grilled beef in wild betel in rice paper

Wrap Bo la lot rolls and other fillings in a quarter of a rice paper.

3. Banh Phong Nuong Phuong Tra

Location: Cambodian Market, Ward 1, District 10, Ho Chi Minh City. View on Google Maps.

Opening hours: 7:00 – 21:00.

Food stall

The small stall selling Vietnamese girdle cake made in Ben Tre – a province of beautiful Mekong Delta region. There is a board on which written “Bánh phồng Phương Trà”, literally meaning Girdle cake Phuong Tra. Grilled girdle cakes are put in tied plastic bags to keep the cake crispy. The owner grills the cakes on charcoal using a pair of round metal hand grills. Charcoals are in a large metal bowl. The owner is very nice and friendly. If you would like to grill a cake yourself, the owner is happy to teach you how to do.

Banh Phong Nuong Phuong Tra stall in Cambodian market

Banh Phong Nuong Phuong Tra stall in Cambodian market.

Girdle cakes

Rice crackers or Girdle cakes are crispy round thin cakes made from rice flour and/or wheat flour, sticky rice flour, tapioca flour, sometimes extras including coconut milk, sesame, banana, cassava, durian, etc.

Girdle cakes vary according to the ingredients. At Banh Phong Phung Stall, it is recommended to eat Cassava girdle cake, Banana girdle cake, Sesame girdle cake.

Why eat Girdle cake in Saigon?

Rice and sticky rice play an important role in Vietnamese cuisine. They have created lots of rice and sticky rice cake recipes including Girdle cake – one of the oldest Vietnamese traditional cakes. It is a favorite cake at Tet festival and on normal days when they simply eat the cake and drink tea. Children love to sit around the charcoal cook and wait for the ready grilled girdle cake. In the past, girdle cakes were only made at Tet festival. In recent, they produce these cakes and sell them popularly at local markets and supermarkets. Many stalls such as Banh phong Phung stall grill the cake and sell ready crispy grilled girdle cake.

Cassava girdle cake

Cassava girdle cake or Bánh phồng mì is made from sticky rice, cassava, sugar, coconut milk.

How to make?
  • Steam sticky rice until well-done.
  • Knead steamed sticky rice, cassava, sugar, coconut milk well in order to make the dough.
  • Divide the dough into even-sized portions.
  • Press each portion of the dough into a round thin sheet.
  • Dry the sheets under the sun for a few days until it is dry completely but not too hard and too dry.

Banana girdle cake

Bánh tráng/phồng chuối nướng or Banana girdle cake is made from sticky rice, banana, cassava, sticky rice, coconut milk.

Grilled banana girdle cake

Crispy grilled banana girdle cake.

How to make?
  • Apply thin slices of ripe banana on Cassava girdle cake.
  • Dry the girdle topped with banana slices for about two days.

Sesame girdle cake

Sesame girdle cake or Bánh phồng mè is made from sticky rice, sesame, sticky rice, coconut milk.

Vietnamese sesame girdle cake

Grilled sesame girdle cake in plastic bags.

How to make?

Similar to Cassava girdle cake.

How to grill?

  • Hold two grills on your two hands.
  • Put the grilles above the burning charcoals. The distance between the charcoal and the grills is about 20 – 40 cm.
  • Place a girdle cake on one grill.
  • Turn the side of the cake continuously using two grills.
  • Be careful so that you do not drop the cake on the charcoal.
  • If you turn the side slowly, the cake will be burned.

How to eat?

  • Place the Grilled girdle cakes on a large woven bamboo flat tray/basket.
  • Beat the cakes with your hands until they break into small pieces.
  • Eat the pieces of cakes which are greasy, lightly sweet and fragrant.

4. Nuoc Mia

Location: next to Banh Phong Phung, Cambodian Market, Ward 1, District 10, Ho Chi Minh City. View on Google Maps.

Opening hours: in the evening.

Nuoc Mia Stall

The stall is a stainless rolling cart in which there is a manual sugarcane extractor for extracting the juice from sugarcane.

Iced sugarcane juice

Why drink sugarcane juice in Vietnam and Saigon?

Thanks to cheap price and great taste, sugarcane juice is very popular on Saigon streets. Sugarcane juice stalls are everywhere. This refreshing drink helps you to boost your energy, beat the thirst. Sugarcane juice has zero cholesterol and fat, contains fructose and glucose, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, magnesium, zinc, thiamin, riboflavin and several amino acids.

Iced sugarcane juice

Iced sugarcane juice is served in a plastic disposable glass.

How to make?

  • Peel the sugarcane stalks and cut them into 0.5 m segments.
  • Put sugarcanes between two opposite rotating rollers.
  • Operate the press using a hand wheel on the side of the extractor.
  • Sugarcane segments go through the rollers and are located on the outlet.
  • Get the segments and put them between the rollers.
  • Continue until no juice remains.
  • Place kumquat in sugarcanes before the juice is going to be drained out of the bagasse (bã mía).
  • Serve the sugarcane juice with some ice in a plastic glass.

5. Banh Cuon Chau

Location: 77 Ho Thi Ky Street, Ward 1, District 10, Ho Chi Minh City. View on Google Maps.

Opening hours: 15:00 – 21:00.

Street food restaurant

Banh Cuon Chau is a small restaurant in the Cambodian market – a paradise of foods in Saigon. The house is rather small and narrow so that customers eat at stainless tables and plastic chairs not only in the house but also in the area next to the house. Canvas canopies protect customers from the sun and the rain. The restaurant may look dirty to many foreigners. However, the foods are safe to eat.

Banh Cuon Chau Restaurant in Cambodian market Saigon

Banh Cuon Chau Restaurant in Cambodian market Saigon.

Steamed rice rolls

Banh cuon or Bánh cuốn is a traditional Vietnamese food is made by steaming a thin rice sheet, then stuffing it with the filling made from pork and wood ear. So that it is called Steamed rice rolls or Stuffed pancake in English. The rolls are eaten with dipping fish sauce and lots of toppings.

Why eat Steamed rice rolls in Saigon?

Steamed rice rolls is a traditional Vietnamese food which should not be missed. Although Steamed rice rolls are popular in different regions of Vietnam, Saigon people have their special way to make, serve, and eat this food. It reflects the rich cuisine of Vietnam and Saigon. In most of the Vietnamese dishes, they use fish sauce, bean sprouts, cucumber, herbs like Steamed rice rolls.

How to make?

  • Stir-fry ground pork, minced wood ear and garlic.
  • Make a rice flour batter from rice flour and water.
  • Prepare a special steamer which is covered with a thin cloth.
  • Boil the water in the steamer.
  • Pour a cradle of batter into the cloth.
  • Skillfully use the cradle to form a very thin sheet on the cloth.
  • Cover the lid and wait for about one minute.
  • Open the lid and use a long and thick bamboo stick to get the thin steamed sheet out of the steamer.
  • Put the sheet on a board, put the filling from ground pork and wood ear onto the sheet.
  • Wrap the filling in the sheet into a roll.
How to make a Vietnamese steamed roll

The batter is poured onto a cloth on a special steamer.

How to serve?

  • Cut the roll into three or four shorter rolls.
  • Serve the rolls with julienned cucumber, chopped mixed herbs including coriander (ngò), basil (húng quế), blanched bean sprouts, Cinnamon pork pate (chả quế), Fermented pork roll (nem), Vietnamese pork roll (chả lụa), sweet and sour fish sauce.

How to eat?

  • Pour the sweet and sour fish sauce onto the toppings and steamed rice rolls.
  • Eat it with chopsticks.
  • The amazing sauce plays off the toppings and rolls.
  • Tender and sticky steamed rice, crunchy wood ear, chewy and tender pork roll, smelling and chewy Cinnamon pork pate, strangely sweet and sour Fermented pork roll blend wonderfully. The herbs and vegetables balance the flavor and add the freshness to the dish. They also make food healthier.
Vietnamese steamed rice rolls with lots of toppings

Steamed rice rolls with lots of toppings

6. Banh Xeo Thanh Vy

Location: Su Van Hanh Street, Ward 2, District 10, Ho Chi Minh City. View on Google Maps.

Opening hours: 16:00 – 22:00.

Restaurant

This is one of many Vietnamese mini pancake and grilled beef in wild betel restaurants lining Su Van Hanh Street – one of hustle and bustle food streets in Ho Chi Minh City. These restaurants are located in shophouses of Ngo Gia Tu Buildings which last for over 50 years. It is a long-standing restaurant and has been favorite of many locals including students, the elders, workers, etc. The cooks make the cakes and grill beef right on the pavement of the shophouse. Stainless tables and plastic chairs are arranged on the pavement too. In the evening, eating at this restaurant under the sky is so cool.

Vietnamese mini pancake

Vietnamese mini pancake is a small round rice cake, which crust is made from rice, turmeric powder, coconut milk and chopped green onion, fried on a flat pan, filled with bean sprouts, shrimp, pork, and other ingredients. The cake is served with sweet and sour dipping fish sauce with pickled daikon and carrot strips, vegetables and herbs, rice paper, pickles.

How to make?

  • Mix rice, turmeric powder, coconut milk and chopped green onion to make the batter.
  • Pour cooking oil into a flat round pan on charcoal using a cradle.
  • Pour the batter into the pan and fried it for less than 1 minute using a cradle.
  • Add slices of pork belly, shirmp and bean sprouts.
  • Fry until the crust turns golden and crispy, the fillings are well-done.
  • Fold the cake using a cooking turner.
  • A cook usually makes many Vietnamese mini pancakes at the same time.

How to serve?

  • Vietnamese mini pancakes should be served hot when they are still crispy.
  • Sweet and sour dipping fish sauce, pickled daikon and carrot strips and chili pepper (optional) is served in a dip bowl.
  • Lots of fresh vegetables and herbs including heart leaves (diếp cá), Thai/sweet basils (húng quế), spearmint (húng lủi), lettuce (xà lách), mustard green (cải bẹ xanh), shiso (tía tô), Ming aralia (đinh lăng), Mentha aquatica (húng láng), rice paper are served in a stainless tray.
Vietnamese mini pancakes

Vietnamese mini pancakes

How to eat?

  • Banh Xeo Thanh serves you sweet and sour dipping fish sauce with pickled daikon and carrot strips, vegetables and herbs, rice paper, pickles.
  • Place a rice paper on a plate.
  • Use a leaf of lettuce or mustard greens make the rice paper wet, tenderer and stickier.
  • Get a piece of the pancake, a few leaves of vegetables and herbs and place them on the rice paper.
  • Skillfully wrap the pancake, vegetables and herbs in rice paper into a roll.
  • Dip the roll in the dipping fish sauce.
  • The crispy cake impresses any dinner; the vegetables and herbs balance the flavors, add freshness to the roll; the dipping sauce plays off the fillings of the roll.

7. Nguyen Huong

Location: 029 Block H, Ngo Gia Tu Apartment Buildings, Su Van Hanh Street, Ward 2, District 10, Ho Chi Minh City. View on Google Maps.

Opening hours: 16:00 – 22:00. If you are too late, the coconut ice cream can be sold out.

Restaurant

Nguyen Huong restaurant was established in 1975 and has been a famous place to eat desserts including Coconut ice cream and Vietnamese stewed beef. It has attracted lots of locals and visitors including foreigners to come, learn about the story, and enjoy delicious foods.

Ice cream in coconut

Ice cream in coconut is a delicious dessert consisting of ice cream made from coconut milk, topped with steamed black sticky rice, green pandan extract sticky rice, corn, taro, toasted coconut chips (mứt dừa sấy giòn), served in a half of coconut. At Nguyen Huong restaurant, they also serve fresh coconut water with the ice cream. It is great to drink the cool coconut water while eating the greasy ice cream, sticky rice and crispy coconut chips.

coconut ice cream

Colorful coconut ice cream is served in a half of coconut.

8. Com Tam Viet Pho

Location: Street, Ward , District , Ho Chi Minh City. View on Google Maps.

Opening hours: .

Broken rice with grilled pork and pork skin strip

Broken rice with grilled pork and pork skin strip consists of broken grains of rice which are 3 or 4 times smaller than normal rice, grilled pork chop, and “Bì” consisting of shredded pork skin, sometimes lean pork strips, toasted rice powder (thính).

Broken rice topped with grilled pork chop, cucumber, tomato, pickles

Broken rice topped with grilled pork chop, cucumber, tomato, pickles.

Why eat?

Saigon cuisine is the mix of cuisines of different regions of Vietnam from the North to the South and cuisines of many countries including China, Korea, Japan, Thai, France, America, etc. So that it is not easy to find a dish which originated in Saigon. Broken rice with grilled pork and pork skin strip is known as to be created by Saigon people. There is nowhere you can eat the best Broken rice but Ho Chi Minh City.

How to cook?

  • In the past, broken rice are the grains of rice which left over from the traditional drying and milling process. In recent, they use a machine to break rice grains into pieces which are 3 or 4 times smaller than the original.
  • Steam the broken rice in a special steamer into steamed broken rice. Then keep the steamed rice in the steamer.
  • Marinate pork chop with shallots, garlic, orange juice, green onions, salt, honey, ground black pepper, fish sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, condensed milk, etc.
  • Grill pork chop on charcoal until yellow-brown, crispy outside but tender inside.
  • Boil lean pork (or pork belly) and pork skin. Finely cut pork skin and lean pork into strips. The thinner the pork skin is, the better it is. Mix the pork skin and lean pork with toasted rice powder. The mixture is called “Bì”.

How to serve?

  • Broken rice is served with grilled pork chop and “Bì”, green onion oils, slices of cucumbers and tomatoes, green onion oil, daikon and carrot pickles  on the same plate. Sweet fish sauce dip is served in a dip bowl. Dinner can add chili pepper at his wish.

How to eat?

  • Pour dipping fish sauce onto the rice, mix the rice and the dip using the spoon and fork.
  • Use the fork to eat the pork chop and dip the pork chop in the dip,  the spoon to eat the rice, Bì, and other toppings.
  • It has been said that the steamed broken rice is more comfortable and easier to eat than steamed whole grains of rice. The dip plays the broken rice off well. The tendered and smelling pork chop and crunchy Bì are a great couple. Cucumbers, tomatoes and pickles add the freshness and flavors to the rice and pork.

9. Oc Vu

Location: 37 Vinh Khanh Street, Ward 8, District 4, Ho Chi Minh City. View on Google Maps.

Opening hours: 15:00 – 22:00.

Restaurant

District 4 is the only island in Ho Chi Minh City so that it is connected with other districts by lots of bridges. It was the mafia hotspot led by the famous criminal Nam Cam. In recent, it has become a developing area with busy markets including Xom Chieu market, apartment buildings, street food areas including Vinh Khanh food area.

Vinh Khanh street is known as the snail street because it is lined with tens of restaurant selling snails and shellfish dishes. The best snail restaurants can be found in this street. It also has many restaurants and food stalls selling BBQ, hot pots, desserts, etc. The street is always crowded with customers sitting, eating and drinking every night.

Located in Vinh Khanh street, Oc Vu Restaurant is full of dinners who love the fresh snails and shellfishes as well as the creative recipes. They arrange small plastic chairs and stainless tables so that it is a little difficult for foreigners to sit.

Vinh Khanh food street

Vinh Khanh food street at night

Oc Vu Restaurant in Vinh Khanh snail street Saigon

Oc Vu Restaurant in Vinh Khanh snail street Saigon

Grilled scallop with green onion oil

Why eat?

Grilled scallop with green onion oil (Sò điệp nướng mỡ hành) is the easiest food to eat at snail restaurant in Saigon.

How to cook?

  • Open the scallop using a special knife.
  • Remove the scallop meat from the shell.
  • Wash some shells in several changes of water.
  • The muscle around the stomach and dark parts should be removed.
  • Wash the meat of the scallop for several times and get all the sand out of the scallop meat.
  • Cut the meat into pieces.
  • Put the pieces of scallop meat in a half shell.
  • Grill the half shell with scallop meat on charcoal until well-done.
  • Top the meat with green onion oil.

How to eat?

Grilled scallops are served on a plate with some Vietnamese mint and a small bowl of dipping fish sauce.

There are 2 ways to eat Grilled scallop:

  • Eating with a spoon:
    • Use a spoon to pour the fish sauce dip over the scallop meat, then eat the meat with the spoon.
  • Eating without a spoon:
    • Skillfully use the shell with scallop meat and green onion oil to get some dipping fish sauce.
    • Place the shell in front of your mouth.
    • Use your lips and teeth to tuck in the scallop meat.
  • The scallop meat is tender and a little crunchy, it goes well with the sweet fish sauce dip. The green onion oil makes the food more attractive and flavorful.

Steamed clam with lemongrass

Steamed clam with lemongrass

Steamed clam with lemongrass

Why eat?

Steamed clam with lemongrass (Nghêu hấp sả) is one of the most favorite foods at snail restaurants in Saigon.

How to cook?

  • Soak the clams in water with chili pepper so that they removes the dirt inside the shells and meat themselves.
  • Wash the clams carefully in several changes of water.
  • Steam the clams with lemongrass in a pot until the shells are open.

How to eat?

  • Steam the clams with lemongrass is served in a bowl.
  • Similar to Grilled scallop with green onion oil.

Toasted Ca na snail with salt

Why eat?

We could not miss a snail dish at a snail restaurant. However, dishes from snails are not easy for foreigners to eat. The small Ca na snail (Ốc cà na) tastes great and most of the foreigners like to eat Toasted Ca na snail with salt (Cà na rang muối). The snail looks like Cà na fruit (Canarium odontophyllum) so that it is named after this fruit.

How to eat?

  • Use a bamboo stick to remove the meat from the shell of a Ca na snail.
  • Dip the meat in dipping fish sauce, chili pepper salt or salt black pepper mixture.
  • The meat is salty and hot at the same time. Some people do not eat the snail meat with any dip.

Grilled garlic snail

grilled garlic snail

Grilled garlic snail

Why eat?

Garlic snail (Ốc tỏi) has crunchy and tender meat, its size is bigger than other kinds of snails so that it is easier to cook. The snail is called garlic snail because it looks like a garlic bulb.

How to cook?

  • Remove the meat from the shell of the garlic snail.  Wash them carefully.
  • Boil the snail meat until well-done.
  • Put the meat into the shell. Pour a special sauce into the shell.
  • Grill the shell containing the snail meat and sauce until the sauce boils.

How to eat?

  • Use a bamboo stick to remove the garlic snail meat out of the shell.
  • Eat the tender and crunchy meat of snail. The sauce add flavors to the snail and it is the soul of the food.

Stir-fried morning gloly

Why eat?

Morning glory leaf (Rau muống) is very low in calories and fats, and high in vitamins A and C, antioxidants, minerals, ascorbic acid which are good for the health. The most popular morning glory dish is Stir-fried morning glory with garlic (Rau muống xào tỏi).

How to cook?

How to eat?

Use chopsticks to eat this stir-frying dish.

Fertilized duck egg

Fertilized duck egg

Fertilized duck egg

Why eat?

Fertilized duck egg (Balut, Hột vịt lộn) is rich in proteins and calcium. However, it is less known and consumed in other countries because it looks scary. In Vietnam, they love to eat this food. Countries, where they eat Balut, include Vietnam, Phillipine, Pregnant women believe that Fertilized duck egg helps their babies stronger, more intelligent and the babies hair thicker.

How to eat Boiled fertilized duck egg?

  • Boiled fertilized duck egg is served in an egg cup and with Vietnamese mint and a dip bowl containing a mixture of salt, ground black pepper and lime juice.
  • Use a teaspoon spoon to tap the top of the egg for a few times to break the shell.
  • Use your fingers to remove the cracked bits of shell in order to form a small round opening in the top of the egg.
  • Use your fingers to remove the thin layer protecting the egg just beneath the shell.
  • Sip the flavorful broth until empty.
  • Use the teaspoon to eat the fertilized duck, egg yolk, egg white (albuman, rock, bato) which has turned harder and crunchier.
  • Do not forget to dip the fertilized duck egg in the salt black pepper lime juice mix and eat it with Vietnamese mint.

Flan cake

The stall next to Oc Vu sells delicious flan cakes at a cheap price.

10. Thi Thi Che

Location: 223 Ton Dan Street, Ward 15, District 4, Ho Chi Minh City. View on Google Maps.

Opening hours: 14:30 – 23:00.

Restaurant

Located on a small but busy street, Thi Che is one of the most famous places to eat dessert in this city. It is always crowded with customers who eat delicious desserts at the restaurant or buy takeaway desserts. The foods are arrange in front of the restaurant. The sellers are friendly and clever.

Flan cake

Flan cake in Saigon

Flan cake is served with Vietnamese coffee and ice.

Why eat Flan cake in Saigon?

Flan cake is known in Roman cuisine. It has been popular in many countries around the world. In Vietnam, this cake is made and eaten in a special way of Vietnamese people.

How to served?

  • In Vietnam, flan cake is served with Vietnamese coffee and ice.

How to eat?

  • Use a teaspoon to eat this amazing cake.
  • It is a great mix of greasy, lightly sweet, smoothy flan cake and a little sour, a little bitter and fragrant Vietnamese coffee.

Top Ho Chi Minh Restaurants and Street Food Stalls DURING THE DAY

11. Banh Mi Hong Hoa

Location: 62 Nguyen Van Trang Street, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. View on Google Maps.

Opening hours: 8:00 – 22:00.

Restaurant

Located right in the city center, Banh Mi Hong Hoa is one of the most crowded Banh mi shop in Saigon. It is a small shop with a glass and stainless steel and glass food stall in the front and bread making machine in the back. The sellers and cooks work as quickly as possible to serve lots of customers.

Hong Hoa Banh mi shop in Saigon

Hong Hoa Banh mi shop in Saigon

Vietnamese bread

Why eat Vietnamese bread at Hong Hoa in Ho Chi Minh City?

Banh mi, known as Vietnamese bread, has been added into Oxford – a UK-based dictionary since 26th March, 2011. Eating Banh mi is a must on any trip to Vietnam. The country has not less than one hundred of Banh mi versions which have different ingredients used to make fillings, sizes and shapes of breads, sauces.

It has been said that the French brought baguettes to Saigon after attacking Saigon – Gia Dinh. It was called “cơm tây”, literally meaning Western steamed rice. Vietnamese people found a great way to eat this new kind of food. They fill the bread with meat, fish, pork roll, vegetables, pickles, pate, sauces.

Ho Chi Minh City’s Banh mi recipes are special so that trying Vietnamese bread is the firt food to eat in this city.

Banh Mi Hong Hoa is famous for the fresh ingredients used to make the bread, new-baked bread which is always crispy outside, airy and tender inside. Its recipes have won the heart of  Mark Weins – a famous travel food blogger and featured in his blog and video. He said it was the best Banh mi in Saigon.

How to make?

Although Banh Mi Hong Hoa serves about 10 kinds of Banh mi, the mixed or thập cẩm version is the most popular. The plain bread is filled right after it is ordered.

  • Use a sharp knife to cut open the bread on one side.
  • Fill the bread with thin slices of Vietnamese cold cuts (Chả lụa thịt heo or Vietnamese pork roll, Chả đầu heo or Giò thủ or Pork cheese, Chả lụa da heo or Vietnamese lean pork and pork skin roll, Jambon), pate, mayonnaise, pork floss, coriander, cucumber juliennes, julienned carrot and daikon pickles, tomato sauce, soy sauce, slices of chili pepper (optional).
  • Put the bread into a paper bag, then a plastic bag so that you can take it away easily.

12. Chuoi Nep Nuong Vo Van Tan

Location: 62 Nguyen Van Trang Street, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. View on Google Maps.

Opening hours: 8:00 – 22:00.

Street food stall

The food stall was established 20 years ago. It is a small food stall under the roofs. The place is tight so that customers must sit on plastic chairs on the pavement. Most of the customers buy takeaway Grilled banana in sticky rice.

Grilled banana in sticky rice stall in Saigon

The stall is small and tight. There is no place for customers to sit so that most customers buy takeaway Chuoi nep nuong.

Grilled banana in sticky rice

Grilled banana in sticky rice or Chuối nếp nướng consists of apple banana (chuối xiêm/sứ), wrapped in steamed sticky rice, then wrapped again in banana leaves, grilled on charcoal until the sticky rice turns golden and crispy, the banana inside turns sweet-tasty, sticky and tender at the same time. The Grilled banana is served with a greasy and lightly sweet sauce made from coconut milk.

Why eat Grilled banana in sticky rice?

Grilled banana in sticky rice has been a favorite Vietnamese street food in South Vietnam for many years. Banana and sticky rice are grown popularly in Vietnamese countrysides so that they have created many foods from this fruit. This is a perfect mix of sticky rice and banana and should not be missed by any tourist who would like to learn more about Vietnamese cuisine and the rich cuisine of Ho Chi Minh City.

How to make?

  • Make the Grilled banana in sticky rice
    • Steam sticky rice until well-done, the information is too much.
  • Make the sauce

How to serve?

  • Cut the Grilled banana in sticky rice into 4 – 6 pieces.
  • Pour the coconut sauce over the pieces of Grilled banana in sticky rice.

How to eat?

  • Use a bamboo stick, chopsticks or a spoon to eat.
  • The food should be eaten warm when the sticky rice wrapper is still crispy.
  • The greasy and lightly sweet sauce goes well with the crispy and sticky wrapper and the sweet, sticky, and tender banana.

The white coconut milk sauce is poured over the pieces of Grilled banana in sticky rice before eating.

13. Banh Xeo Ngoc Son

Location: 103 Nguyen Van Trang Street, Ward 11, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City. View on Google Maps.

Opening hours: 8:00 – 22:00.

Restaurant

This is a spacious local restaurant which lasts for over 20 years. It is known as one of the top places to eat Vietnamese pancake in Saigon. There are 2 floors so that you can choose to sit on the more crowded and noisy first floor to see how they cook and how locals eat and talk together or the quieter second floor. All high tables and chairs are made from stainless steel. The kitchen is on the right on the first floor. You can learn more about how to make the large round Vietnamese pancake.

Vietnamese pancake in Southern style

A Vietnamese pancake in Southern-style has a diameter of about 40 cm.

Vietnamese pancake (Banh xeo, Bánh xèo) is a traditional cake which has a crispy crust made from rice flour, turmeric powder, green onion, coconut milk and the filling made from bean sprouts, pork (usually pork belly), shrimps, mung beans.

The cake is usually served with vegetables, herbs, rice paper, and sweet and sour dipping fish sauce. Dinner wrap the crust and filling, vegetables, herbs in a piece of rice paper into a roll, then dip the roll in the dip before eating. Vegetables and herbs include heart leaves (diếp cá), Thai/sweet basils (húng quế), spearmint (húng lủi), lettuce (xà lách), mustard green (cải bẹ xanh), shiso (tía tô), Ming aralia (đinh lăng), Mentha aquatica (húng láng).

Why eat Vietnamese pancake in Ho Chi Minh City?

Vietnamese pancake has many versions in different regions of Vietnam. In Central Vietnam, the cake has a diameter of 20 cm and is fried in a flat round pan. In South Vietnam, the cake is thinner, 2 times bigger and is fried in a big wok. Trying Banh xeo at at an over 20-year Vietnamese pancake restaurant in Saigon is worth doing. You also have a chance to see how the skillful cook fries many cakes at the same time.

How to cook?

  • Make the filling
    • Cook peeled mung beans until well-done, tender but not crushed.
    • Boil pork and shrimps.
  • Make the batter by mixing rice flour, turmeric powder, chopped green onion oil, coconut milk, salt, sugar.
  • Fry the cake
    • Apply cooking oil to the hot wok.
    • Pour a cradle of batter into the wok, swirl the wok to evenly spread out batter.
    • Add pork, shrimps, bean sprouts and mung beans. Some cooks add a little oil while frying the cake.
    • Shake the wok occasionally.
    • The cake is ready when there is a sizzling sound. So that Vietnamese pancake is also called Sizzling cake.
    • Fold the cake in half using a turner.
    • Get the cake out of the wok.

How to serve?

  • The cake is usually served with vegetables, herbs, rice paper, and sweet and sour dipping fish sauce.
  • Vegetables and herbs include heart leaves (diếp cá), Thai/sweet basils (húng quế), spearmint (húng lủi), lettuce (xà lách), mustard green (cải bẹ xanh), shiso (tía tô), Ming aralia (đinh lăng), Mentha aquatica (húng láng).
  • Daikon and carrot pickles are added to the dipping fish sauce to add flavors to the dip.

How to eat?

  • Put a piece of rice paper on one hand.
  • Use the other hand to put a piece of the pancake’s crust, one or a half shrimp, one or two pork slices, a little bean sprouts onto the rice paper.
  • Wrap the fillings and crust in the rice paper into a roll.
  • Dip the roll in the sauce.
  • Tuck in.

Rice noodles with Fried roll

Rice noodles with Fried roll (Bún chả giò) consists of rice noodles topped with Fried roll, fried onion, crushed peanuts, green onion oil, vegetables including cucumber, bean sprouts, lettuce and herbs including sweet basil, daikon and carrot pickles, eaten with dipping fish sauce.

The crispy fried roll (Chả giò) is the soul of this food. The roll consists of the filling from pork, onion, egg and other ingredients, wrapped in rice paper, fried until crispy and golden.

Why eat Vietnamese pancake in Ho Chi Minh City?

Rice noodles with Fried roll is a specialty food of Saigon.

How to cook?

  • Cook the rolls
    • Mix ground pork, minced onion, black pepper, salt, egg well to make the filling.
    • Wrap the filling in rice paper into a roll.
    • Deep-fry rolls in oil until crispy and golden.
  • Julienne cucumbers, mince herbs and lettuce.

How to serve?

  • Put rice noodles into a bowl.
  • Top the noodles with fried rolls (whole rolls or pieces of rolls), green onion oil, crushed peanuts, daikon and carrot pickles, cucumber, lettuce, herbs, bean sprouts.

How to eat?

  • Pour dipping fish sauce over the rice noodles and toppings using a spoon.
  • Mix the noodles and other toppings except for the rolls so that the sauce plays off the noodles and toppings using chopsticks.
  • Eat the food with chopsticks. You can use a spoon if it is difficult for you to use chopsticks.

14. Cheo Leo Coffee Shop

Location: 109/36 Nguyen Thien Thuat Street, Ward 2, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City. View on Google Maps.

Opening hours: 5:00 – 18:45.

Coffee Shop

The coffee shop is hidden in a small alley of Nguyen Thien Thuat Street, in a hustle and bustle area of District 3. It is a small shop but tables and chairs are arranged tidily. Sometimes, guests sit on tables in front of the shop because there are not enough places.

Why is this cafe always crowded?

  • It is an over 80 year coffee shop.
  • It is one of a few coffee shops serving Vot or stocking coffee in Saigon.
  • The old restaurant with its walls, roof and old furniture remind of a Saigon coffee shop in the past.
  • The music since the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s makes customers feel great.

Meaning of the name “Cheo Leo”

“Cheo leo” means deserted, solitude. The coffee shop was located in a deserted area when it was established. So, the first owner named it “cheo leo”. In recent, it has become a crowded area full of small alleys lined with houses.

The story of Cheo Leo Coffee Shop and the owner

Cheo Leo Coffee Shop was established by Mr. Vinh Ngo in 1938. At that time, they did not call it a coffee shop but a drink stall (tiệm nước). Mr. Vinh Ngo had 9 children. After Mr. Vinh Ngo and his wife left, 3 daughters continue brewing coffee and serving stocking coffee to customers including locals, visitors, many of them are foreigners.

What to see in the kitchen?

  • An oven was made from a plastic barrel (thùng phuy), yellow building sand (cát vàng xây dựng), cement, bricks, etc. by Mr. Vinh Ngo. The oven is used to boil water and warm coffee.
  • 2 big clay pots have been used to store water used to brew coffee for over 80 years. There were 6 pots, some of them were broken, the other were moved to other places because the kitchen is too small.
  • A big stainless steel pot is used to boil water.
  • Clay pots have 1 lid and 2 spouts which are also 2 holders. This kind of clay pot is known as a tool for cooking Chinese herbal medicine. In Vietnamese, it is called Siêu.
  • Cloth/fabric filters which are always washed carefully. They are all in brown color and have a sweet fragrance.

Vot coffee

The special tool is used to brew coffee at Cheo Leo Coffee Shop is called Vợt (fabric filter, cloth filter). Local people call this coffee Vợt coffee or Stocking coffee.

Why drink Vot coffee?

Perhaps Vietnamese coffee brewed in Phin filters is well-known in the world. Not many people know that there is a great way to brew coffee in Saigon. There are not more than 5 coffee shops where coffee is brewed in Vợt in Saigon. Its taste is unique so that it is worth a try.

How to brew?

  • Keep charcoal in the big oven hot during the day.
  • Store water in big clay pots for at least 2 days before being used to brew coffee.
  • Cook water in a stainless steel pot until boiling.
  • Pour boiling water into a clay pot (siêu) in which there are a fabric filter and ground roasted coffee.
  • The brewed coffee will be ready in about 1 minute.
  • The brewed coffee is served to customers or warmed in another clay pot.
  • The stainless steel pot is put in the middle of the oven so that the water can reach the boiling point. The clay pots are put around the stainless stell pot, on the edge of the oven so that the coffee does not boil but only is kept warm.
  • The heat should not be too high because high heat makes the coffee burned. The coffee would be too sour if the heat was too low.

What to drink?

Hot/iced weak coffee with condensed milk (Bạc xỉu nóng/đá).

Hot/iced coffee (Cà phê đen nóng/đá).

Hot/iced coffee with condensed milk (Cà phê sữa nóng/đá).

Hot/iced Hershey’s cocoa with condensed milk (Hershey ca cao đá/nóng).

You can also buy ground roasted coffee or coffee beans.

 


Are you mouth-watering when reading this blog? Why not arrange a trip to Ho Chi Minh City where you can enjoy a lot of exotic local foods. Do not hesitate to contact Tracy Do for any question about the foods. You can also join the Saigon Food Tour on which Tracy and her team take you to the top restaurants and street food stalls in Ho Chi Minh City and eat tens of great specialty food.

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