Did you know that a perfect journey to Sai Gon (Ho Chi Minh City) is combining must-try food with must-see place ? In this post I will share with you ten must-try food in Sai Gon by my feeling and tasting.
1. Noodle soup (Bun) - Famous so you cannot miss it
Bun is so popular in Vietnam. Wherever you go, I think the first dish you should enjoy is noodle soup. There are two items for you: beef or pork for one bowl of Bun. The Bun is served in hot soup, next to a dish of mix herbs and a fresh slice of lemon. Soft meat, fragrant soup are eaten with greens in cool air, which is really an unforgettable impressiveness in Saigon journey.
But if you choose Bun Bo Hue in Sai Gon, you can feel the taste is slight spicy with a distinct lemon grass flavor. (Fresh vegetable and herbs are also provided on the side). Bun Bo Hue is another kind of noodle soup, it is a greasy soup by nature with fatty meats that I’m sure you are satisfied with having tried this soup once.
2. Vietnamese pancake (Banh Xeo) - Enjoying noise before eating it
Ảnh bánh xèo màu vàng, nước chấm và rau thơm.
Banh Xeo may be special dish in Sai Gon because you “hear” it before enjoying it. That’s right, banh xeo is called sizzling crepes because when the yellow batter (main material making banh xeo) is fried, it make sizzle noise interestingly. You can see the crepes are yellow, very similar to omelettes but actually no eggs in it. Yellow color comes from turmeric powder.
Banh Xeo often is brazen canary yellow batter, then wrapping up these slices in an array of herbs and dipping them into nuoc cham, sweetened fish sauce. The Banh Xeo is rolled around bean sprouts, onion, pork and shrimps. It comes with a big plate of greens with a mix of herbs and bowl of a vinegar/fish sauce.
To start enjoying it, taking a lettuce leaf and place a few sprigs of herbs inside, then pinch off a piece of the pancake and filling, and place it inside the lettuce leaf too. Wrap it up, and dip it in the sauce. And wow, it’s delicious !
3. Grill Buffet BBQ - Great choice for diner in the city.
BBQ is a place for satisfying appetite for delicious, cheap barbecue buffet. And more ! In BBQ place, it’s fun to grill your own food at your own table. You and your friends sit around a round table with a gas burner sunk into the middle with a round grill plate on top. The food was very fresh and tasty, portions are large. It’s BBQ style, nice and simple.
There are many dishes you can choose to grill ourselves such as beef with cheese, prawns with bacon and pork with peanut sauce, seafood etc. Some of the other dishes are pre-cooked and equally delicious, of course.
You can drink a variety of beers, cocktails & soft drinks. They are all available, and again at great prices.
4. Bread (banh my) - Starting a new day with it and anytime, anywhere
The taste of SaiGon bread is decent. You can try bread with roasted pork and combining fish sauce and I make sure you’re amazed. Such simple ingredients join together and give extraordinary taste. Many people say they choose bread when starting a new day and it’s the best choice they have had since being in Sai Gon. You can also order a different bread and they are all delicious. The light with perfect crunch, tender bread comes with correct amount of condiments is making the experience wanting you to come back again.
5. Sai Gon seafood - the taste of sea
In Saigon, there are many seafood restaurants, most of theme remains a consistently popular experience for years. You can easily find many kinds of seafood such as snail, crap, blood clam, shrimp, amberjack fish and so on. So there are many ways of enjoying it, too.
You can try the snail with stuffed pork and fresh spring rolls with pork and shrimp. Yummy! Or having shrimp in tamarind. It is sensational ! You can also try the lemongrass clams, mantis shrimps, grilled prawns, baby squids and love it all.
It was a mistake if you cannot try seafood soup and crab and asparagus soup. It is thick, tasty, seasoned perfectly. Sometimes you can have meet fresh oysters, crab curry, a fish steak, snails stuffed with pork and duck with passion fruit sauce in one menu.
What about crab ? Yes, you may have steamed crabs, crab spring rolls, and crabs in tamarind sauce. You will love the fried rice with crab meat, not oily but plenty of crab flesh. The tamarind crab claws is so so good and also the fried spring rolls. Vietnam have the best prawns (along with Singapore) and the ones in Sai Gon are wonderful.
Most of restaurants have swift, polite service and prices are reasonable for such high quality.
6. Beer - Many and cheap and conversion
If you like craft beers, a lot of places for you. In Sai Gon, you can experience over 20 different kinds of beers combine with the great beerfood as hotdogs, nachos, sliders and many more.
Bia hoi is Saigon style (same Hanoi). You can drink freshly brewed local beer with 10.000 dong for tankard Bia Hoi, 12000 dong for a bottle of Saigon. Sitting on small plastic chairs in the street, crowded by other drinkers and the street life all around, it is good selection of locals make the place fun if you feel like conversing. You likely have the great conversation with the other drinkers.
7. Hu tieu - a common street food
Hu Tieu is extremely common as a street food in Saigon. It is outstanding from many dishes because its taste.
With a a bowl of hu tieu, you have rubber band textured noodles that leaves an impression both visually and tastefully. It’s really noodle meal with minced pork, pork liver, prawns, broccoli, cauliflower, and assorted veg for garnish.
There are two selection: dry or soup Hu Tieu. They are equally good, but outside of Sai Gon, most Hu Tieu are soup based. I recommend you enjoy the dry version.
You can try many hu tieu places in Saigon at the time. The broth is very deep in flavour, not too greasy, not too sweet and not too salty. Great !
8. Broken rice (Com tam) - the authentic Vietnamese eating experience
Let’s try some local broken rice and you are not disappointed. You can order a portion of broken rice with pork rib, sunny side eggs. The meat is big and tasty. Pork chop is grilled to perfection. It taste a little bit sweet with a smoky flavor to it. You soon realize it is best paired: the creamy sunny side egg with broken rice. And more perfectly, if combining best pair to some pickles and oiled onion.
9. Bot chien - Sai Gon cuisine
You can find bot chien on almost every street corner of Sai Gon. Bot chien is a cubes from combining rice flour and tapioca starch, fried in lots of oil. Then cubes become slightly crispy on the outside edges, but smooth and creamy on the inside, and slightly sticky.
It is usually served with eggs and sauce. The sauce is very mellow, not too strong, but just slightly sweet, salty, and sour, all three flavors almost even and balanced.
10. Banh cuon - a nice experience eating
Banh cuon is consider as a cheap, filling and delicious meal. Thin layer of rice batter is steamed into a thing like crepe, often combined with lightly seasoned minced pork, small dried shrimp, and wood-ear mushrooms. You will fill and roll it when eating. Banh cuon often comes with finely shaved lettuce and blanched bea sprouts on the side. You eat banh cuon with dipping it into sweet fish sauce, known as nuoc cham. The soft taste of the dish plus flavour of sauce make you feel great ! Really !
Until now, you have a list of ten must-try dishes in hand. I hope you soon try them as soon as possible when visiting Sai gon. But, you are in Sai Gon now ? Ok, let’s start enjoying them immediately !