Eating in Ho Chi Minh can be a bit daunting, faced with so many choices. And after being in Hanoi earlier this year, I must say that I went back to Vietnam with quite a few expectations in mind about the food that I’d be eating in Ho Chi Minh. Not all the places we ate at satisfied me, but we still found some gems in the city. After a brief overview on how and where to go shopping in Saigon, here is now a list of the places I got to try during my short stay in Ho Chi Minh City. To eat or not to eat there? You be the judge.
U-House Beer & Barbeque
After a very hot morning of touring Ho Chi Minh City on foot, we found ourselves at the U-House Beer & Barbeque. It wasn’t the most Vietnamese of all the places we’d eaten and the food was on the expensive side, too. But we were already too tired and hot from walking around and the air-conditioning had been welcome (at first). Like most restaurants in Ho Chi Minh, they served free iced jasmine tea as soon as we got there. I wanted to try Hu Tieu but it was no longer available at 12:45pm so I ended up eating Com Tam Suon Heo (Broken Rice with Grilled Pork Ribs), one of their set lunches. Serving time was too long which amplified the noise made by the rowdy beer-drinking yuppies who got there before we did and stayed even longer. It was a Friday afternoon and I guess the weekend started early for them, too.
Xua Va Nay
Our first dinner in Ho Chi Minh City took us to Xua Va Nay, an al fresco dining restaurant on our hotel’s block. Tables were set up on the sidewalk, under awnings that were still dripping from that afternoon’s rain. We also had to keep moving our table to the side in order for the Xua Va Nay people to set up more tables. It seemed like a really popular restaurant because lots of people ate there that night. We had a bit of a difficult time ordering though because only one person there understood English. But all that was offset by the delicious food that we got to eat. The servings were also very big so we had a bit of a hard time finishing all of the food we ordered. And one final note on Xua Va Nay: it had the best lemon juice ever. Try it for only 20,000 VND. You’ll find yourself ordering for more! We had the best and most authentic Vietnamese dinner that night.
In our hopes of scoring a cheap dinner before the A O Show on our second night in Ho Chi Minh, we ended up at the Huong Lai Vietnamese Restaurant. This restaurant is located on the second floor of a building with some French-Vietnamese interior. Because of our very successful dinner at Xua Va Nay from the previous night, we were a bit dismayed by the prices of the dishes that they serve. So, we ended up ordering from their “Light Set Menu” for 160,000 VND each. Our order consisted of the following:
There was also some Canh Khoai Mo or Purple Yam Potato Soup but I no longer took a photo of that. It wasn’t too picturesque and I didn’t really like its taste. Anyway, It was indeed a “light” set because the portions were just right and it was bordering on being vegetarian. I personally liked our dinner but I think the boys weren’t too thrilled.
Xoi Ga Number 1
Our third day in Ho Chi Minh started with the Cu Chi Tunnels Tour and we got back to the hotel very late. We walked around our area for a place that’s open and was still serving food and we landed at Xoi Ga Number 1. This restaurant was near the Ben Tanh market and Saigon Square. And just like the previous afternoons, it was raining and we were in the mood for some pho. So, although we should have tried some Xoi Ga (Sticky rice and chicken), we still opted for some soup.
Banh Mi Truyen Thong Viet
Ah, banh mi, my favorite Vietnamese food. I was already going out of my mind looking for a place to eat banh mi and we finally found one on our way to the Galaxy Cinema. Banh Mi Truyen Thong Viet serves banh mi exclusively and as can be expected, they are very yummy!
Com Tam Moc
One of those restaurants across our hotel was the Com Tam Moc, famous for their Vietnamese broken rice. I ordered Com Tam Suon Bi (Pork BBQ + Pork Skin), Lemon Juice and Banh Flan (Flan Cake) for dessert. The Com Tam Suon Bi was not too spectacular and the free squash soup that came with it did not taste too good either. The lemon juice is also average and I think the one from Xua Va Nay was the best. But what I liked most was the dessert. Yum!
All in all, I think the food in Ho Chi Minh proved to be much more expensive than in Hanoi. But that’s the only comparison I can think of. I still enjoyed eating them although we could’ve been more patient when it came to looking for places to eat in Ho Chi Minh. But of course, it’s easier said than done because when I’m hungry, there’s really no telling what I’ll do. Haha!
Until next time, Vietnam!
August 15-18, 2014
***All photos were taken using iPhone 5