The hottest food spots in Ho Chi Minh City

Let a local foodie guide you into the Ho Chi Minh hotspots you need to check out for the best street food, haute cuisine and everything in between.

Vietnamese noodle soup with bean sprout in bowl.
  • Ben Groundwater
  • October 2018

Food in Ho Chi Minh City is life. It’s history. It’s culture. Whether it’s that quintessentially South-East Asian style of food dished up by hardworking vendors plying their trade on the city’s streets, or fine dining options, it’s all here. Here is your local’s guide to eating your way through Saigon.

Top view of a man cooking in a multiple pan around him.
Tasty seafood crepes known locally as Banh xeo are just one of the many roll-your-own street eats in Vietnam.

The best street eats

Wander street-food hotspots such as Tran Khac Chan street in District 1 or Van Kiep and Nguyen Thuong Hien in District 3 and see what takes your fancy. It might be banh mi, the ubiquitous Vietnamese pork rolls; com tam, steamed rice with meat or fish; nem ran, deep-fried spring rolls; or banh tet, sweet sticky rice served with banana and red bean paste.

Slurp up some noodle soup

People here eat noodle soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And you should too. The ultimate day of soup sipping would involve a visit to Bun Rieu Nguyen Canh Chan in District 1, a tiny shop that does the best bun rieu – a slightly sour, crab-based soup served with vermicelli noodles – in the world. It would include a night-time visit to Banh Canh Cua, a restaurant that only serves the dish it’s named after, a thick crab soup with tapioca noodles. And it cannot overlook a visit to Bun Bo Chu Ha in District 3 to sample their Hue-style noodles, and Hu Tieu Nam Vang Nhan Quan for their clear, cleansing soup.

3 pcs of rice paper rolls serving with separate sauce and condiments.
Rice paper rolls are as ubiquitous across Ho Chi Minh City as you’d expect!

Rice paper rolls – and more

Once you get tired of eating your meals with chopsticks and a spoon, it’s time to roll your own. This doesn’t just apply to goi cuon, the universally known fresh rice-paper rolls - done beautifully at Hoang Ty. You’ll also need to work those dextrous fingers while eating bo la lot: minced meat wrapped in betel leaves, grilled over coals, then rolled in lettuce, rice paper and herbs. Try it at Co Lien Bo La Lot in District 3. Banh xeo, the crispy, seafood-filled Vietnamese crepes, are also eaten rolled in lettuce and rice paper. Check out Banh Xeo 46A Dinh Cong Trang in District 1 for the city’s best.

Experiment with snails

Sea snails and freshwater snails. Fried, steamed or poached. In southern Vietnam, snails are a delicacy, and they’re eaten with gusto on any given night across Hi Chi Minh City. If you can find Oc Chi Em in District 3, a rooftop eatery accessible via a scruffy alleyway, head up there for sea snails fried with chilli and garlic, washed down with a cold, local beer.

Upscale restaurants

For French-style haute cuisine, check out La Villa. For a sumptuous brunch, hit up the Sunday buffet at Le Meridien. Or for a modern take on Viet cuisine, try celebrity chef Luke Nguyen’s fine-diner Vietnam House.

Top Tip

Tea is free in Vietnamese restaurants. But if you’re craving coffee, call into the nearest Trung Nguyen café – Vietnam’s answer to Starbucks – for an iced coffee.