My recent visit to Vietnam was not a first for me since I already went to Hanoi last year to attend a conference. Since then, I’ve always said to myself that I want to go back to explore more of Vietnam.
And so, it did happen when AirAsia Philippines launched its maiden flight to Ho Chi Minh City late last year.
Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, played an important role during the Vietnam War and is famous for its French colonial landmarks like the Notre-Dame Cathedral.
Like many cities, Ho Chi Minh City boasts of a multitude of restaurants — from roadside eateries to high end diners serving typical Vietnamese dishes like phở to banh mi to fried fresh spring rolls and so much more.
And since they say that you can learn a whole lot about a place through its food and diverse flavors, that was exactly what I did in Ho Chi Minh.
That being said… here are a couple of food spots I checked out in the hopes of learning a little bit more about Ho Chi Minh. Perhaps you might want to check them out as well during your own visit one of these days. Well… let’s begin.
Exploring the flavors of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Nga Hang Di Mai
136-138 Le Thi Hong Gam, District 1, HCMC
Nga Hang Di Mai located at District 1, has a modern interior that serves traditional fare from street food, to homestyle cooking to sophisticated dishes. Here are my top 4 dishes.
HOÀNH THÁNH CHIÊN KHIÊN HÔI AN (98,000 VND/PHP228.00)
This Hôi An style fried pork wontons has a sweet and sour flavor profile with a beautiful texture that complements the fried wonton crunch.
GÒI CUÔN D U HÙ (78,000 VND/Php182.00)
These fried fresh spring rolls that come with tofu has the taste of Vietnam in one bite. The roll is deep fried to a delicate crisp with a beautiful aroma from the herbs. Incredibly light yet oh so delicious!
HEO KHO TÔ (118,000 VND/PHP275.00)
This Braised Pork Caramelized Sauce in Clay Pot reminded me of the dry Bak Kut Teh that I had in Malaysia. The one in Malaysia was served in a clay pot also. It tastes like our Paksiw na Pata but with chillies and onions. The flavors are complex – sweet, bold, and with a touch of heat.
KEM XÔI DÙA NHIÊT DÓI (68,000 VND/PHP159.00)
The mango, passion fruit, toasted coconut chips and peanuts are like a divine symphony! It perfectly balances each ingredient making this a great meal ender.
2. Nhà Hàng Nón Lá Restaurant
180C (hèm 178) Hai Bà Trung, P.Da Kao, Q.1
COCONUT SALAD WITH PORK & SHRIMP
Of all the dishes I’ve tried in Ho Chi Minh City, this probably takes the Top 1 spot.
Coconut meat, bell pepper, toasted onions, nuts and shrimp are combined to make this appetizing salad. Seasoned with a little salt and pepper, and I am guessing a bit of lime juice, to wake things up. The cilantro gives this dish a beautiful aroma. Simply satisfying.
MUNG BEAN SWEET SOUP
This treat is delicious, light and comforting. Can be eaten hot or cold. A great palate cleanser.
3. Bách Tùng Vien
This restaurant in My Tho, serves simple yet flavorful dishes. Their bestsellers are the Dinosaur Egg, Fried Elephant Ear Fish and Fried Fresh Spring Roll.
The Dinosaur Egg is not actually the egg of a dinosaur. It is made of dough and it’s hollow. You get a portion of the somewhat semi-chewy piece and eat it with a choice of meat or fish with some vegetables.
4. Trung Nguyên Legend Café
219 Ly Tu Trong Street Ben Thanh Ward, District 1 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
When in Ho Chi Minh, go to Trung Nguyen coffee and order Ca Phe Legend Sua No.
No paper filter needed. No big machine set-up. Just a phin to brew a simple cup of coffee. For some, Vietnamese coffee is strong, but I like it. Just give your coffee a good stir to enjoy the condensed milk at the bottom. Can be taken hot or poured over ice.
Even a city filled with coffee shops, paying a visit to Trung Nguyên Legend Café might be one of your travel highlights.
4. Saigon Special
When I am abroad, I make sure to order the local beer.
I went for the Saigon Special. It tasted so light that I chugged it down in no time. Perfect for easy drinking.
So… there you have it! If you don’t know where to eat on your next visit to Ho Chi Minh City, you can use this blog post as a quick reference. And when you do visit, drop me a line and let me know how it went.
A few more travel tips
If you’re planning a trip to Ho Chi Minh City yourself to enjoy their food and check out the things you can do there, remember that AirAsia flies 3x weekly to Ho Chi Minh City from Manila.
And oh! Make sure to stay connected and always online during your trip by having a travel buddy just like mine — Flytpack. Flytpack offers very affordable pocket wifi devices for your trip wherever they may be. Flytpack kept me online, enabling me to post real time on my social media accounts, answer work emails, and keep me connected with friends and family.
That’s it! I hope this quick post excites you enough to visit Ho Chi Minh as well. If you love eating, you and your tummy will most definitely have a blast.
Need a little more convincing? No problem! I’ll leave you with my husband’s Ho Chi Minh vlog series below. He made this during our trip as well. Enjoy!