Any person who is living and working in Saigon is so proud of this city. This place has welcomed citizens around Vietnam. That’s why people have brought a diversity of traditional cuisines to Saigon. When coming to this young and dynamic city, you are highly recommended to try any street food tour in Saigon.
An American friend asked me: “What is the most famous feature in Vietnam? People, weather, climate, or landscape?” “You are right, but personally, cuisine is the most special thing in my hometown”. The variety of food and drink comes from different regions. Today, I want to tell you about the food and drink‘s specialties of the South, more specifically in Saigon, where most young and dynamic people like to work and live.
Suppose you have 24 hours to go around Saigon, let me help you design a tour to enjoy all of the signature dishes in this city.
• Energy-boosting options for breakfast
• Take something lighter for lunch
• Saigon by night: we all love a full dinner
Breakfast: Wake up! We need the energy!
Do you know, while your country is famous for the fast food like fried chickens, hamburgers, sandwiches, ‘fast food specialty’ of my country is ‘Banh mi’ – Vietnamese baguette sandwich. This food is considered as one of the most popular breakfasts for the majority of Saigonese. A crispy bread is combined with the fatty taste of pate and butter, the soft aroma of meat slices, the freshness of cucumber and a little bit of spicy chili pepper. All are gathered together and create such a specific characteristic – a rushed and lively life in Saigon.
• Banh mi Huynh Hoa, 26 Le Thi Rieng, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1
• Café Vợt Phan Đình Phùng, 330 Phan Dinh Phung, Phu Nhuan District, HCMC
“Xoi – Sticky rice”
Besides ‘Banh mi’, sticky rice is also an interesting breakfast. The dish is made from glutinous rice which is in the sense of being glue-like or sticky. Sticky rice is usually served with pate, some slices of pork (or chicken), pork bologna, sausages, eggs, a scattering of fried shallots on top, and finally, the sauce. This is a kind of food that provides a lot of energy in the morning, which helps you begin a day more productively.
• Xoi che, 11 Bui Thi Xuan, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1
• Xoi gà Ba Chieu Market, Bui Huu Nghia street, Binh Thanh District
“Com Tam – Broken rice”
It seems strange when people eat rice in the morning. However, this has become a habit of the people in my country. For Vietnamese, stay full will offer enough energy to work during the whole day. Not to mention, this is also a dish that provides plenty of nutrition. A plate of broken rice is prepared with grilled meat, a mixture of thinly shredded pork and pork skin, along with prawn paste cake also known as the combination of steamed pork and egg custard, fried eggs; and are decorated with some slices of cucumber, tomatoes and pickled vegetables. Of course, there will be no shortage of fish sauce.
• Com tam Thuan Kieu, 54 Thuan Kieu Street, Ward 4, District 11
• Com tam Kieu Giang, 192E Tran Quang Khai Street, Ward 1, District 1
Lunch time! Here we go!
Perhaps, Pho is not unfamiliar with the world’s cuisines. It simply consists of noodles, chicken or beef served with flavored broth, black soy sauce and chili sauce to help you adjust the spice of the dish. You’ve probably tried Pho in your country, but experiencing it at the derived place cannot be any better.
Long-standing pho restaurants in Saigon:
• Pho Thin, 170 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Ward 6, District 3
• Pho Hoa, 260C Pasteur, Ward 8, District 3
Bun cha is seen as the characteristic dish in the North, a favorite food of foreigners. You might know, President Obama also enjoyed Bun cha when visiting Vietnam. A little rice noodles is prepared with grilled meat and herbs. All are mixed together and dipped in the syrup-thick fish sauce. This is extremely a great choice for your lunch because it’s not only delicious and convenient, but it is also sold at a reasonable price.
• Bun cha 145, 145 Bui Vien Street, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1
• Bun cha Ho Guom, 135 Vo Van Tan Street, Ward 6, District 3
Tea-time and dinner: Let’s go around or take a Saigon street food motorbike tour to discover Saigon by night
Salad roll is the traditional eating style of Vietnamese people. With a slice of thin rice paper, people roll with a mixture of noodles, herbs, basils, bean sprouts, pork and shrimp, then dunked it in a rich peanut sauce – sounds extremely attractive. You can try Goi cuon tom nhay on 424 Lac Long Quan Street, Ward 5, District 11.
“Banh xeo – Vietnamese pancakes”
If you are a fan of fried foods, Banh xeo is the best choice. The dish is a specialty in both South-Western and Central of Vietnam. Pancake is made from rice flour, which looks like crepe when fried but larger and crispier. Puff pastry consists of pork, shrimp, a few vegetables like cassava or beansprouts. When eaten, pancake is really crunchy in your mouth. You can roll it with rice paper and vegetables, then dipped in the fish sauce.
• Banh xeo An la ghien, 74 Suong Nguyet Anh Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1
• Banh xeo Dinh Cong Trang, 42A Dinh Cong Trang Street, Tan Dinh Ward, District 1
“Bun rieu – Crab noodles”
The tea-time has finished, let’s improve your day by a good dinner. For me, a bowl of hot dish in the evening is a perfect gift. The broth is made from tomatoes and freshwater crabs. Crabs caught in the paddy field are cleaned, crushed into a paste, then strained for liquid and cooked with tomato soup. Other ingredients include tamarind paste, fried tofu, annatto seeds, congealed pig’s blood, shredded banana flower and spinach. It’s really complicated, but the price of a bowl is only about 25,000 – 50,000 VND. A lot of foreigners have come and tried Bun rieu ganh near Ben Thanh Market, on 4 Phan Boi Chau street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1.
I have taken you to visit almost of my Saigon. If you are interested, why don’t we join a Saigon street food motorbike tour to enjoy all the signature dishes of my hometown?
Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam. Different from Saigon, Hanoi is more cultural and traditional. In Hanoi, there are also many delicious cuisines you should try. Find more Hanoi’s cuisines here.