Ho Chi Minh City is an exciting travel destination for food lover as it is full of culinary diversity. You can find wide choice of Saigon food everywhere, from street food stalls to restaurants on every corner of the street. These are top 10 must-try dishes in Ho Chi Minh City.
If you do not want to miss any local specialties, we would recommend you to join Saigon Street Food By Night. You will have an opportunity to try Vietnam signature dishes including Ban Mi, fresh spring rolls, green papaya salad, Vietnamese savory steamed rice cakes and much more.
1. Banh Mi (Vietnamese Baguettes)
Banh Mi means bread but is also understood to be the Vietnamese baguette. Banh Mi is the dish that is the first on the list of Vietnamese and Saigon cuisine you must try. It won’t be difficult to find a small shop selling Banh Mi in Ho Chi Minh City as this is a typical food for locals to eat.
The most popular place for you to try Vietnamese baguettes is named Banh Mi Hoa Ma, which is located on Cao Thang Street in District 3. A portion of Banh Mi includes all kinds of attractive ingredients such as omelets, ham, sausages, vegetables and sour and spicy sauce. The price is about 30,000 VND per piece.
2. Banh Xeo (Vietnamese Pancakes)
Pancakes are popular in any region of Vietnam, but each region has different flavor and so does Ho Chi Minh City. Saigon Pancake or Banh Xeo is a harmonious combination of crispy golden color crust of pancakes with raw vegetables and sour sauce, creating this delicious taste. The normal filling of the pancake are shrimps, pork, and bean sprouts. Vietnamese pancakes are usually sold in the price range from 15,000-50,000 VND per piece.
If you want to enjoy the true flavor of Saigon pancakes, head to Banh Xeo 46A restaurant at 46A Dinh Cong Trang in District 1. Pancakes with shrimp paste, and bean sprouts here look simple but still conquer the hearts of many tourists.
3. Bun Bo Hue (Spicy Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup)
Like its name suggests, Bun Bo Hue dish originates from Hue, the city in Central Vietnam, also the former capital of the country. However, Ho Chi Minh City is the place where many people from all other provinces flock to settle down, so don’t be surprised to find Bun Bo Hue as one of must-try dishes in Ho Chi Minh City.
Bun Bo Hue is a spicy Vietnamese beef noodle soup, as Bun means noodles, Bo means beef. This dish has also become one of the favorite dishes in Saigon. The spicy and thick taste of the broth mixed with a little shrimp sauce creates a special flavor.
There are many restaurants and food stalls selling Bun Bo Hue in numerous locations throughout the city for a very affordable price that can be as low as 20,000 VND per bowl.
4. Bun Mam (Rice Vermicelli Soup with Fermented Fish and Seafood)
Bun Mam is similar to hotpot but has its own flavor. The most important part of this Vietnamese noodle dish is the broth prepared according to the traditional recipe with the best sauce. A delicious bowl of Bun Mam is not too sweet, too salty or too spicy, but it is not bland with aroma of fish sauce. Bun Mam is served with bacon (or roasted pork), slices of fish, shrimps, squids along with a plate of raw vegetables such as banana flower, bean sprouts, spinach and fragrant basil.
Bun Mam is a typical delicacy of the Mekong Delta area so if you want to fully enjoy this dish, you have to go west of Ho Chi Minh City (to Can Tho, Vinh Long, Long An), but if you do not have time, you can try it right in Saigon. One of the most famous restaurants serving this dish is Bun Mam 444 (369 Le Quang Dinh St, Ward 5, Binh Thanh) and the price is about 35,000 VND per bowl.
5. Banh Trang Nuong (Vietnamese Pizza)
Banh Trang Nuong, which translates into “grilled rice paper”, is often called just Vietnamese Pizza. This is one of Saigon street food dishes you must try. Vietnamese Pizza is made from grilled rice paper with sauce, quail eggs, dried beef, shrimp paste, dried shrimps, spring onion, and cheese on top.
It’s often said that if you want to eat the real Saigon-style Pizza, you must go to Cao Thang area in District 3 and catch a red or green stool to sit on the sidewalk and eat with locals. In addition to this sidewalk area, you can also come to the sidewalk on the corner between Nguyen Hue Street and Ngo Duc Ke Street in Ho Chi Minh City to enjoy this popular street food dish.
The price of Banh Trang Nuong is mostly 10,000-15,000 VND per piece, depending on where you by and the ingredients they use, as the price is definitely higher when you add seafood to this dish.
6. Che (Traditional Vietnamese Sweet)
People of Southern Vietnam will obviously have a slightly sweeter taste than people in other regions, which is clearly reflected in Che - a typical Saigon delicacy. Che in Saigon is very diverse in flavors with ingredients such as green beans, black beans, Ba Ba tea, taro, banana and much more. A cup of Che costs from 8,000-10,000 VND per cup.
Thach Che Hien Khanh is known as one of the best sweet shops in Ho Chi Minh City that is loved by many people. The special feature that makes people to remember this place is the jelly with jasmine flavor.
7. Com Tam Sai Gon (Saigon-style Broken Rice)
Com Tam, also known as Broken Rice Dish, is one of the delicious specialties of Saigon. This dish looks like just a rice served with grilled pork (can be ribs or chicken as well), thinly shredded pork and sunny-side-up eggs with a little fish sauce, along with vegetable but it is a must-eat dish when coming to Ho Chi Minh City.
This special dish is served for all 3 meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner of Saigon people so you can enjoy broken rice at any shop in Ho Chi Minh City. A plate of delicious broken rice averages only 25,000-50,000 VND.
8. Hu Tieu Nam Vang (Nam Vang Noodle)
Nam Vang Noodles is another specialty dish of Saigon. This is a "multi-ethnic" dish that tourists should try in Ho Chi Minh City. Nam Vang is the Vietnamese name for the city of Phnom Penh because the dish was originated from Cambodia and migrated to Southern Vietnam. Now, it became one of the most popular street food dishes in Ho Chi Minh City.
Nam Vang Noodle has many different ingredients, including Vietnamese rice noodle, shrimps, squids, minced pork and the signature fried garlic.
9. Bun Moc (Vermicelli Noodle Soup)
Bun Moc is a familiar breakfast dish of Northern Vietnam. Bun Moc is a Vietnamese vermicelli noodle soup made from pork and mushroom meatballs eaten with some raw vegetables. A variety of Vietnamese sausages are also added.
Bun Moc Thanh Mai Restaurant, located on the side of Ben Thanh Market, is a popular place to try this dish in Ho Chi Minh City. This noodle soup there has been sold for more than 40 years. The most special thing about Bun Moc Thanh Mai is the crunchy and tasty white round balls. The price of the dish is about 40,000-60,000 VND per blow.
10. Xoi Sai Gon (Steamed Sticky Rice)
Xoi or Steamed Sticky Rice is adored by Saigon people. They like to eat this dish in the morning with various fillings such as chicken, Chinese sausage, quail eggs, peanuts, fried onion, etc. Particularly sticky rice is served with special sauces that make it even more delicious and more attractive.
One of the most famous sticky rice shops in Ho Chi Minh City is Xoi Ga Ba Chieu at Ba Chieu Market. A pack of delicious sticky normally costs 10,000-25,000 VND only.
Cafes in Ho Chi Minh City
If you are a coffee lover and like hanging out at cafes, then Ho Chi Minh City is a great city to visit. There is the ridiculous amount of nice coffee shops in Saigon that will truly surprise you.
For those who are staying at District 1, don’t miss out on these gems for great specialty coffee: The 14 Best Cafes in District 1.