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I’m so excited – and a bit proud – to bring you the best food in Saigon. I think I exceeded even my own eating expectations while spending 4 days in Saigon, also known as Ho Chi Minh. There were multiple times I caught a 30-minute scooter taxi in the hunt for a great meal, and just as many times I walked 40 minutes home to try and offset just how much I’d eaten!
Anyway, I genuinely think I discovered some of the best food in Ho Chi Minh at very affordable prices – and no meal in this list costs more than 90,000 VND (£3). It doesn’t need to; anything higher in price would be at a Western joint and you’d lose the local feel to your meal.
Get set for my Ho Chi Minh food guide…
Exploring the Vietnamese food scene is for sure one of the best things to do in Southeast Asia. Vietnamese food is flavoursome, salty and often served with fish sauce. It can be spicybut you can usually control how much heat you add. Despite the fact that it’s heavy on the meat (veggies – I’m sorry!), I like that it feels fresh and is often served with a side plate of salad and a generous serving of herbs.
Related read: How to spend 2 weeks or 1 month in VietnamSO, before I waffle on (mmm, waffles) anymore, let’s dive into where to eat in Saigon.
Click the map for the restaurant names and what they serve!
Where to eat the best food in Saigon
Bún bò Huế (beef noodle soup)
Not to be confused with pho, this dish usually does get confused with pho because the two are very similar. The main difference is the bun bo noodles are round rather than flat like the ones used in pho, and the broth is tangier due to being flavoured with lemongrass and citrus. I might just prefer this version to pho, ya know! Bún bò Huế originates from the city of Hue in central Vietnam but now (like pho) you’ll find it everywhere down south.Where to eat bun bo Hue in Saigon: I’d recommendBún Bò Xưawhich has a ton of locations around the city.Price: 50,000 VND (£1.60).
Bun riêu (crab noodle soup)
The best Ho Chi Minh food!
I thoroughly enjoyedbún riêu which is a noodle soup flavoured with crab meat and tomato. It was really rich and flavoursome and made a change from more watery noodle soups. I’d read that it usually comes with a chunk of pig’s blood but luckily this was missed from my portion, probably on purpose and I was grateful for this!Where to eat bún riêu in Saigon:TryBún riêu Gánh beside Ben Thanh Market. I had high hopes from reading the reviews and I wasn’t disappointed. I loved that the restaurant only serves one dish – so much better than those places with menus so long that none of it can be fresh!Price: 50,000 VND (£1.60).
Gỏi cuốn (fresh spring rolls)
Total beauties! Fresh spring rolls are so light and healthy – my go-to when I’ve eaten too much fried pork, which is all the time in Vietnam. Prawn, lettuce, cucumber and carrot are wrapped in a sheet of rice paper meaning that they’re not cooked or fried in any way. SO yum and perfect for dipping in sweet chilli or fish sauce.Where to eat goi cuon in Saigon: I mean, everywhere! These ones pictured were from Ben Thanh Street Food Market which is a cool Western-style market serving some of the best food in Ho Chi Minh.Price: I paid 60,000 VND (£2) for two, a few times what you would at local street food locations.
Authentic food at Bánh Cuốn Hải Nam
I absolutely adore bánh cuốn. It’s actually a dish from Northern Vietnam but it’s now popular in Saigon, too. It’s a dish made from rolled rice batter and filled with pork, mushroom and shallots.Where to eat the bestbánh cuốn in Saigon: The best serving I have ever had was atBánh Cuốn Hải Nam. It was delicious – the rice was soft and the fillings very flavoursome. The modest eaterie has a no-frills feel and I was served my food seconds after sitting down.Price: Either 30,000 or 40,000 VND (there was a mix up with the change and I got confused). Around £1.
Pho cuon is a bit like banh cuon because it’s made fromrolled rice batter. See it as a banh cuon/spring roll combo asit’s served with veggies rolled inside rather than a pork and mushroom loose filling. Why is ‘pho’ in the name? Pho refers to the noodle dish as well as the rice noodles themselves.For a funky pho cuốn, try these rainbow rolls atPhở Hai Thiền – they’re flavoured with natural vegetable oils.Price:50,000 VND (£1.60).
That time I was defeated by meat!
I’m going to go ahead and assume if you’re reading a Saigon food guide, you’re already familiar with bánh mì, otherwise known as the most delicious baguettes on the planet. You’ll find them all over Saigon from 15,000 VND (less than 50p). The Western-style ones will be packed with avocado and Laughing Cow cheese triangles while the authentic ones will have pork, carrot, cucumber, coriander, chilli sauce and often other layers of meat like pork pâté and floss.
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Where to eat the best bánh mì in Saigon: So many places! The one that comes up time and time again as the ‘best’ is Huynh Hoa Bakery, a local-looking joint that serves enormous sandwiches packed with meat. I think it actually out-meated even me and I have to admit I couldn’t finish the various layers of pork. You’ve got to love meat to love Huynh Hoa.Price: 40,000 VND (£1.30).Other options: People say good things about…
Of course you can get pho everywhere in Vietnam, from the side of the road to upmarket restaurants. But no food guide to Ho Chi Minh would be complete without pho, so let’s get stuck in…Where to find the best pho in Saigon:For a delicious first-timer option with some funky vegetable dye added to make the noodles purple, I’d recommend Phở Hai Thiền just off Walking Street. Unlike the more authentic street food options (which you should try too!), you can choose between meat, fish and veggie options. There are about 15 variations to choose from so you’re bound to find one you love.Price: 50,000 VND (£1.60).
I lovecơm tấm as it makes for a break from noodle soups. This dish translates as broken rice and is made from imperfect grains during the milling process. Now people make them as small as possible for this dish as it’s become so popular. The rice is topped with succulent bbq pork and a gooey fried egg, plus a side of cucumber and salad. The flavours work perfectly together.
Where to find the best cơm tấm in Saigon:Cơm Tấm Ba Ghiền. This had been described by the world and his wife as the ultimatecơm tấm so I thought hey, who am I to argue?It was a bit of a trek from my hostel, halfway between the city centre and the airport, but I was happy to travel for some of the best food in Saigon. Luckily a Grab scooter was still cheap as chips so I drove 20 minutes each way. I didn’t try any other to compare but damnnn, that was some succulent bbq meat, plus it was enormous. I was one happy (and stuffed) customer. Highly recommend!Price: 55,000 VND (£1.80).
Bún thịt nướng
This is such a tasty dish and a great intro to Vietnamese food. Dry rice noodles are topped with pork, peanuts, some greens and fried spring rolls. It’s a good one if you’re not a fan of noodle soups.Where to find the best bún thịt nướng in Ho Chi Minh: The one I ate was at a touristic place with friends, however the most highly recommendedauthentic spot isBún Thịt Nướng Chị Thông in District 1 (40,000 VND).
Bún mắm is a type of seafood noodle with prawns and chunks of white fish, plus the odd piece of tofu and aubergine. I love aubergine and it was good to have some veggies (it’s very easy to eat a LOT of fried meat in Vietnam). I also enjoyed the broth which was a darker colour to pho and more flavoursome.Where to find the best bún mắmin Ho Chi Minh:If you’re wondering where to eat in Saigon, don’t missQuán Bún Mắm Cửa Đông which serves some of the best food in Saigon for sure. My meal came served with banana flower salad to add to the broth, plus a pot of fish sauce. I wasn’t sure whether I was meant to tip it in the broth or dip prawns in it, so I did a bit of both. As usual, my food arrived almost instantly as they only serve a handful of dishes.Price: 70,000 VND (£2.30).
Bánh xèo is akind of omelette-pizza hybrid with prawn and pork cooked in the batter. It’s usually served folded over with bean sprouts in the centre.Where to find the best bánh xèo in Saigon:Without a doubtBánh Xèo 46A Đinh Công Tráng.I searched for a less obvious contender for the best bánh xèo in Saigon because a load of internet sources suggested this one and I didn’t want to just copy. However, I realised I actually wanted to go there – so why not!?The bánh xèo turned out to be absolutely enormous, plus the setting was very atmospheric. I was the only Westerner there (always a good sign when local food is concerned) and the place was packed out. I grabbed a seat and chatted to a Vietnamese couple who helped me order. The only complaint was that it was quite oily and had some very fatty pieces of meat in the batter… But I think this is only a bad thing from a Western mindset!Price: 80,000 (£2.60) VND for a portion probably big enough to serve two; not bad for some of the best food in Ho Chi Minh.
These mini prawn Vietnamese pancakes are undoubtedly some of the best food in Ho Chi Minh. They’re like mini bánh xèos but lighter and healthier (though maybe I’m fooling myself that lots of little things don’t count). You eat them by rolling them up in a lettuce leaf, adding a little chilli and dunking them in fish sauce. Three members of staff came over to tell me I wasn’t using enough fish sauce… Seriously, they love the stuff!Where to eat the bestbánh khọt in Saigon: I lovedBánh Khọt Cô Ba Vũng Tàu. This is one of the fancier places in this blog – I still paid less than £3 for dinner and ate with my hands but it was a restaurant rather than a street food joint.Price: 80,000 VND (£2.60).
Other Saigon food I wanted to try:
As you can tell, I ate A LOT during my time in Saigon so it’s hardly surprising I couldn’t sample absolutely everything. Other dishes that looked good were:
Bột chiên– essentially a fried chip omelette which looked greasy, carby and amazing.
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Banh Mi Op La – this just means a banh mi with omelette, something I’ve had lots of times in Vietnam but not in Saigon.
Despite the fact that there are a couple of dishes to try next time I’m in town, I had a blast eating the best food in Ho Chi Minh. I hope you now have a clear idea of where to eat in Saigon. Did you find anything I missed? Let me know in the comments!