Ho Chi Minh City Restaurants and Dining

(Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon, Vietnam)

There's no disputing the fact that Ho Chi Minh City has the greatest array of dining options and restaurants in Vietnam. The native cuisine is amazing enough to keep you transfixed during your visit, but cuisine from around the globe is well represented at city restaurants as well.

Don't be surprised if your best meal comes from one of the streetside stalls selling those ubiquitous noodle dishes. When you are in Vietnam, you quickly realise that the noodle is king. Local dining specialties such as 'mien ga' (a delicate soup with chicken, vermicelli and mushrooms) and the staple noodle soup known as 'pho' can be found on nearly every corner of Ho Chi Minh City. Don't be afraid of the street food. These humble mobile eateries often make the best versions of Vietnamese specialties, as any local will attest. And of course, the price is always right.

What to Eat, and Where

Other elements of Vietnamese cuisine you can't forget are the aromatic herbs like mint, lemongrass, coriander and holy basil. Many restaurant dishes in Ho Chi Minh City seem to revolve around these flavours, with the meat portion merely being a side attraction. Expect plenty of fish sauce and soy sauce to add the saltiness. 'Lau hai san' (a sweet-sour seafood soup with mustard greens) is a good example of the spectrum of flavour on offer.

You should begin your dining adventure around Dong Khoi Street, the home of many of Ho Chi Minh City's best restaurants, outdoor stalls and hidden cafés. Another prime grazing area is around the Ben Thanh Market. These modest eateries don't even appear until after 18:00, but you can grab a quick, cheap tasty meal until 23:00 every night of the week.

At the far end of Dong Khoi Street you will find riverboat restaurants tied up to the Saigon River. With their twinkling strings of lights, long communal tables and live music, these entertaining venues are a fun alternative for those dining out.

The French influence still lingers among the local food of Ho Chi Minh City. The city's bakeries produce amazing baguettes, and the introduction of coffee has firmly rooted itself in the routine of the locals. Only Brazil exports more coffee than Vietnam, so be sure and check out a few of the little coffee shops scattered around every neighbourhood. If you don't like the local style of strong sweet coffee with condensed milk, ask for a 'café nong' which is brewed in a cool little device right on your table.