FOOD IN VIETNAM: TOP 10 MUST TRY VIETNAMESE DISHES IN SAIGON
Food is at the heart of Vietnamese culture and Vietnamese food is one of the most popular cuisines in the world as it mixes together a range of flavors and tastes. While street eateries are everywhere, as the city becomes more affluent, Vietnamese cuisine is going indoors. These days, there are a lot of local restaurants that provide quality and authentic Vietnamese cuisine.
All Vietnamese dishes mentioned here will be listed with our recommended local restaurants. Please use this list as a resource and inspiration for your Vietnam holiday.
What list of Vietnamese cuisine would be started without pho? This simple staple consisting of a salty broth, fresh rice noodles, a sprinkling of herbs and chicken or beef, features predominately in the local diet -- and understandably so. It’s cheap, tasty, and widely available at all hours.
Pho has shown its position not only in Vietnamese cuisine but also world cuisine. Pho can be seen everywhere from street stalls to high-end restaurants. Some is served with chicken and some with beef. Each type of meat entails a variety of sub-dishes, from beef tenderloin to beef brisket, chicken wing to chicken thigh. Fresh herbs, clear stock and soft noodles are 3 important factors to making an outstanding Pho.
Give it a test to our favorite local store: Pho Hung, 15A8 Le Thanh Ton, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, HCMC. Price: 50,000 VND – 66,000 VND (from $2.5 USD)
2/ Com tam – Broken rice
This simple meal, is one of the most popular dishes from South Vietnam at any time of the day, but particular in the morning. It is usually served grilled marinated pork chops, plus a mixture of thinly shredded pork and pork skin over broken rice. On top of the meat, there are several customary ingredients such as: finely sliced cucumber, tomato and pickled vegetables, along with prawn paste cake also known as steamed pork and egg custard or pork meatloaf with egg, fried egg, and grilled prawns.
As a dry dish, it would normally be served with a small bowl of fish sauces on the side.
Cơm Tam Moc, 82 Nguyen Du, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1. Price: 25.000 VND - 69.000 VND (from $1.5 USD)
3/Banh xeo - Sizzling cake
Banh Xeo are giant savory pancakes that literally translate to sizzling cake because of the noise they make when they are being cooked. A good sizzling cake is a crispy crepe bulging with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts, plus the garnish of fresh herbs that are characteristic of most authentic Vietnamese dishes.
To enjoy one like a local, cut it into manageable slices, roll it up in rice paper or lettuce leaves and dunk it in whatever special sauce the chef has mixed up for you.
Banh Xeo 46A, 46A Dinh Cong Trang, Tan Dinh Ward, District 1, HCMC. Price: 15,000 VND – 55,000 VND (from $1 USD)
4/ Xoi – Sticky Rice
“Xoi”, or “glutinous rice”, “sticky rice” in English, can be found in many South East Asia food stalls or luxurious local restaurant. In Vietnam, Sticky rice is commonly popular breakfast item and give you a boost of added energy.
The glutinous rice comes with any number of mix-ins (from slithers of chicken, or pork to fried or preserved eggs), but almost always with a scattering of dried shallots on top. The most common combination is included chicken meat, sausage and scallion oil.
You can find this wonderful dish on several vendors around Ho Chi Minh City or try it at
Xoi Ga Bui Thi Xuan: 11 Bui Thi Xuan, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1, HCMC. Price: 25,000 VND – 55,000 VND (from $2.5 USD)
5/ Banh mi – Vietnamese baguette Sandwich
Commonly well-known along with Pho, Vietnamese baguette sandwiches, called Banh Mi, have attracted a growing fan base around the word. The uniqueness of Banh mi not only lies within the light and crispy baguette, but also the variation of flavors Vietnam fillings bring out the most amazing flavor.
This baguette sandwich filled with greens and a choice of fillings, including pâté and freshly made omelet, is so delicious that it’s been imitated around the world. In the north chefs stick to the basic elements of carbohydrate, fat and protein—bread, margarine and pate—but head south and your banh mi may contain a more colorful combination of cheese, cold cuts, pickled vegetables, sausage, fried egg, fresh cilantro and chili sauce.
Be prepared for long waiting lines of this popular Banh Mi store for both locals and tourists.
Banh mi Huynh Hoa, 26 Le Thi Rieng, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1. Price: 33,000 VND/ baguette (from $1.5 USD)
6/Banh Cuon - Steamed Rice Cake
Taste the French influence in this famous and delicious recipe made of wheat, egg and dairy products. Vietnamese especially from the North, take pride in their steamed crepe made from rice flour and water. Ground pork, wood-ear, onion and seasoning are stuffed inside this savory meal. Most of the chefs make it right at the entrance door using the steaming method. Banh cuon is served with a mixture of fish sauce including sugar and lime.
Banh Cuon Hai Nam, 11 Cao Thang, Ward 2, District 3, HCMC. Price: 40,000 VND – 88,000 VND (from $2 USD)
7/ Cha gio – Fried Spring Rolls
Vietnam’s bite-sized crunchy spring rolls might not enjoy the same popularity as their healthier fresh equivalent, but they deserve a special mention.
The crispy shell with a soft veggie and meat filling dunked in a tangy sauce gets the gastronomic juices flowing before a main course. In the north these parcels go by the name Nem ran while southerners call them Cha Gio. They are most commonly stuffed with minced pork and diced vegetables, though some places use crab, tofu, or even mashed jicama or taro root.
Our recommendation location for this very Vietnamese dish is Quán Nem, located at 15E Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, HCMC. Opening hours: 7:30 AM – 11:00 PM. Price Range: 100,000 VND – 330,000 VND (from $3 USD)
8/ Bun Bo Hue
If you are a soup lover then you will be pleased to learn that Bun Bo Hue is another classic Vietnamese dish. Whether North, South or Central, "Bun" also creates unique and specific dishes in each region. However, in Hue, they like “bun” rather than other one because of style of “bun Hue”. Hue style not only is the elegant, sophisticated, precise dishes but also feel the spirit of the processor. Coming to Hue, either morning or afternoon, walking along the small streets, people can find easily “bun bo Hue”. This thick slippery rice noodle can be found countrywide.
Grasp some “Hue” flavor at Bun Bo Ganh, 110 Ly Chinh Thang, Ward 8, District 3, HCMC. Price: 36,000 VND – 66,000 VND (from $2 USD)
9/ Bun Cha
Bun Cha is one of the oldest favorites of Northern Vietnam cuisine. This dish is top choice of Vietnamese lunchtime food. Grilled chopped meat or normal grilled meat on charcoal stove is prepared with rice noodles and herbs. all together is dipped in syrup-thick fish sauce.Outside Hanoi, across all region of Vietnam, there is familiar dish called Bun Thit Nuong which alternatively served.
You will not miss the chance to explore the dish that Mr President Obama choose in his first night at Vietnam.
Bun Cha Hanoi 26, 8A/9C2 Thai Van Lung, District , HCMC. Price: 30,000 - 44,000 VND ( from $1.5 USD)
10/ Goi cuon (Spring Roll)
Salad roll ranks among Vietnam’s most famous foods and is very agreeable to the taste. Each translucent spring rolls packed with greens, coriander and various combinations of minced pork, shrimp or crab. In some places they’re served with a bowl of lettuce and/or mint. A southern variation has barbecued strips of pork wrapped up with green banana and star fruit, and then dunked in a rich peanut sauce – every bit as tasty as it sounds.
Wrap and Roll, 62 Hai Bà Trưng, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, HCMC. Price: 40.000 VND - 165.000 VND (from $2 USD)
Shows by city
A O Show
A vivid portrait of Vietnam in urbanization time, painted with unique stage visuals and a touch of humor.
The name ‘A O’ derives from ‘Lang Pho’, which means ‘village and city’. The show depicts the charming beauty and cultural richness of Vietnamese life in the countryside, in contrast with the nation’s racing urbanization. The show is a unique mix of bamboo circus, acrobatic acts, dance, and theatrical visual art. The live music echoes Vietnamese Southern work songs. All in all, this beautiful blend of genres creates a unique stage language, which well captures the essence of Vietnam’s fascinating culture.
Embodiment of vigorous Vietnamese tribes culture thru cirque, dance, music from tribal instruments.
Teh Dar invites audience on a venture into the enchanting world of Vietnamese highlanders. Wild animal hunts, moonlit romance, jungle's tales of death and reincarnation, are all recreated with stunning Vietnamese Bamboo Circus, daring acrobatics, and hypnotizing melody from exotic tribal instruments certified cultural heritage by UNESCO. Meaning ‘going in circle’ in the highland tribe K'ho's tongue, Teh Dar embrace and preserve beautiful and diverse Vietnamese tribal cultures. As the artists keep inspiring, the circle of tribal life keeps going, the cultures shall remain.
Lang Toi - My Village
The poetic beauty of Vietnamese village life, recreated using iconic bamboo, breathtaking cirque and exotic live music.
Lang Toi (My Village) is a delicate merge of tradition and innovation, where poetic beauty of Northern Vietnam’s village life is presented under Vietnamese Bamboo Circus approach. Farming, building activities, traditional games, lifestyle of Northern villagers are recreated by ancestral bamboo props, breath-taking circus and acrobatics, rhythmic dance, to distinct folk music from more than 20 musical instruments.
This was an excellent show that depicts Vietnamese life in a most original way. If we had 1 more night in HCMC, we would definitely have seen the show again. It came highly recommended by my niece who had watched the show earlier this year (2016). We...Read more
“A O Show - Brilliant Depiction of Vietnamese life”
This was an excellent show that depicts Vietnamese life in a most original way. If we had 1 more night in HCMC, we would definitely have seen the show again. It came highly recommended by my niece who had watched the show earlier this year (2016). We would highly recommend this show. Only an hour long and very energetic. Well done to the cast.
What an amazing show! It is a definite must see in Hoi An. The performers are so athletic and their skill is exceptional. It is fast paced and enthralling. A lovely touch is their willingness to be photographed afterwards whilst singing. The cheaper...Read more
What an amazing show!
What an amazing show! It is a definite must see in Hoi An. The performers are so athletic and their skill is exceptional. It is fast paced and enthralling. A lovely touch is their willingness to be photographed afterwards whilst singing. The cheaper seats are great - we were in the front row!
I don't think we completely understood the story line, however the show was very well done! It was organized, well performed and included everything from funny moments, to acrobatics, to dancing. The opera house where it is held is stunning and in a...Read more
I don't think we completely understood the story line, however the show was very well done! It was organized, well performed and included everything from funny moments, to acrobatics, to dancing. The opera house where it is held is stunning and in a very french area of Ho Chi Minh city. I wouldn't call it a must see, but anyone who enjoys performance art will definitely appreciate it and I'm glad we went
This universal Form of art is an overwhelming display of the essence of Vietnam's culture. From the begining in natural atmosphere to the noisy urban-motorcycling. Beautyful poetic and HiPro Performance.
This exceeded my expectations, which were not low. Both my 19-year-old daughter and I really enjoyed this 1-hour show. Though we were certainly impressed by the performers, it was less "Aaahh" and "Ooohh" for us, and more interesting, fun and...Read more
This exceeded my expectations, which were not low. Both my 19-year-old daughter and I really enjoyed this 1-hour show. Though we were certainly impressed by the performers, it was less "Aaahh" and "Ooohh" for us, and more interesting, fun and entertaining.
Go and see the amazing ao show at the opera house in hochi min city. Great venue and amazing show. Lets you in on some Vietnamese traditions with fantastic music and acrobatics. Not to be missed.
My family and i absolutely loved this show was mesmerized and amazad at the tallents these people possess . "Truly a cut above the rest" Thank you so much for the experience, the only down fall is it had to end. Hope you bring your show to...Read more
Truly a cut above the rest
My family and i absolutely loved this show was mesmerized and amazad at the tallents these people possess . "Truly a cut above the rest" Thank you so much for the experience, the only down fall is it had to end. Hope you bring your show to Australia one day...........from the Bailey family kalgoorlie australia
I went along with no expectations and I was blown away by the talent of the performers and the choreography. A must see for people in the area.
This is a wonderful 1-hour show, that includes modern acrobatics, Vietnam-style. The main theme of the show are traditional Vietnamese baskets and big sticks. The acrobats do an absolutely WONDERFUL job in entertaining the audience, while...Read more
A great show and VERY talented acrobats.
This is a wonderful 1-hour show, that includes modern acrobatics, Vietnam-style. The main theme of the show are traditional Vietnamese baskets and big sticks. The acrobats do an absolutely WONDERFUL job in entertaining the audience, while performing jaw-dropping acrobatic routines. While there is very little connection between the different acts, the enthusiasm of the dancers make up for it. We got seats C1 and C3, which are on the 3rd row of the theater (they are called "Ohh" tickets). The tickets were 840,000 VND (apx. 37US$) and were totally worth it. Notice that photography is not allowed during the show (distractions from the audience might literally endanger the acrobats). Do not miss taking a photo with the performers when the show is over - the entire cast comes down to the entrance of the opera house and is more than happy to take photos and selfies with the audience. Bottom line - an absolute MUST attraction to enjoy while in Ho Chi Minh.
One of the most fascinating shows i have ever seen. Well done!!
Despite some noticeable flaws, this show reflected Vietnam's modern culture with quirky and cheerful atmosphere to it. À Ố has the potential, if not one of the must-watch show if you ever come to Saigon. This show is recommended for families as this...Read more
A "new" type of circus
Despite some noticeable flaws, this show reflected Vietnam's modern culture with quirky and cheerful atmosphere to it. À Ố has the potential, if not one of the must-watch show if you ever come to Saigon. This show is recommended for families as this show have minimal to none verbal context, and at its core, a "new" type of circus
The Saigon show was splendid. It had a meditative quality. Haven't seen such choreography of late in India. The youthful energy was rewarding and inspiring