If Hanoi is Vietnam’s capital city, then Ho Chi Minh City is undoubtedly the culinary capital of Vietnam. Because of the large size of the expatriate community in the Saigon City, there has been a steady increase of new ventures that are opening up non-Vietnamese restaurants. This then makes eating and drinking in Ho Chi Minh City a diverse yet memorable experience.
Whether you crave shish kebab or sushi, your craving is bound to be catered to. Because Vietnam used to be a colony of France, French restaurants make up most of the foreign restaurants in town. The French legacy and influence is extremely abundant in the city and many of the French restaurants are located in the downtown district of Ho Chi Minh.
Confronted by such a global restaurant scene, it might be easy to ignore local cuisine, but Vietnamese food comes in no better form than the way it does in Ho Chi Minh City. Whether taking it on the side of the street or in a classy and sophisticated restaurant, Vietnamese food wherever you eat it is as delectable as food can get.
The area around the Ben Thanh Market provides a cluster of footstalls of a bewildering variety of dishes, most of them specializing in seafood. One step up from street stalls are the many eating houses scattered around the city. Many of them serve pho meals that are served in vast soup urns and buffet-style tin trays. One helpful tip to know is that if lines are seen outside the restaurant or stall, it might be worth the wait to fall in line as well.
Cheap restaurants can be found around Pham Ngu Lao, Buy Ven and De Tha, and these cater to budget-conscious travelers. Find inexpensive fried noodles or steaks but know that they are hardly in the league of the city’s specialty restaurants. Despite being incredibly inexpensive, the quality of cooking remains consistently high, mainly because their ingredients are freshly flown in from Da Lat while meats are imported from Australia.
Pho is the main constituent of the typical Vietnamese diet. Locals are usually seen slurping this meaty and tasty noodle broth on every corner around the city which means travelers visiting Ho Chi Minh City must definitely sample this yummy bowl of soup as well. If you don’t fancy dining along the side of the streets, there are plenty of air-conditioned pho restaurants around with one of them being Pho 24, a food chain widely seen around the city.
Finally, if Pho is one definite dish to try when in Ho Chi Minh City, street food is another thing you shouldn’t leave without sampling. For people quite squeamish about street food, head to Quang An Ngong as plenty of street vendors are set up in one roof that suggests relatively clean standards. It’s a major hit for the locals, making it a common tourist spot as well.
Although eating and drinking in Ho Chi Minh City offers a great selection of international dishes, make sure to sample mostly Vietnamese dishes during your trip there. After all, visiting a city means having to be educated about the lifestyle of totally different people, so what better way to get immersed in a different culture than to sample their food?