The seven famous delicacies and restaurants with excellent reputation in Saigon
Not only can Ho Chi Minh city leave a strong impression on tourists with a series of interesting destinations, it is also known as the "culinary paradise". Here are some simple but tasty street food of this city.
Pha Lau is a popular dish (originating from China) in the South of Vietnam, and is particularly popular in Saigon. The dish is made from the internal organs, ears and tongue of cows, ducks and pigs, and can be served with bread, rice or porridge. According to old documents, Pha Lau first appeared on the anniversary of the death of the Tieu people in China, when the remaining offerings (pork) were marinated with spices and put into a cooking pot to be served gradually. The broth of Pha Lau contains a lot of spices, such as cinnamon, anise and some traditional herbs, creating a very pleasant fragrance. The Tieu people have brought this dish to Saigon for a long time, and it has become a typical dish of this prosperous land.
Pha Lau is a famous street food in Saigon. Photo: Zingnews
If you have an opportunity to visit Ho Chi Minh city, you cannot ignore this special dish - especially those which are offered at the “Aunt Nui Restaurant”. Together with its deep and attractive colours, and availability to be served with crispy bread, Aunt Nui's Pha Lau will definitely win the hearts of diners from the first taste.
- Recommended address: 243/30 Ton Dan, District 4, Ho Chi Minh city
- Average price: VND 10,000 - 30,000/serving
Pha Lau is cooked in a fairly large and flooded pot, and is cut into small pieces
when being served to customers. Photo: Zingnews
Local pork with fish sauce
The weight of local pork in Vietnam is fairly small (roughly weighing in around 30-35 kg). It takes a long time for this kind of pig to grow up, which results in its meat being both firm and sweet. It is noted that this local pork is also a speciality in some provinces in the Central region of Vietnam. It is considered that the best local pork is the grilled dish based on the style of the H'Mong ethnic group, however the Saigonese favour the local pork with fish sauce. The pork will be rolled, briefly boiled and then put in a jar and soaked with a mixture of fish sauce, lemongrass, vinegar, chili, sugar and pepper. After about 3-4 days, you can take the pork out, slice and enjoy it. The fatty taste of the pork mingles with the richness of fish sauce, leaving diners impressed on the first try.
- Recommended addresses: An Nam Restaurant: 59 Nguyen Binh Khiem, Da Kao Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh city/ 51B Tu Xuong, Ward 7, District 3, Ho Chi Minh city.
- Opening hours: 10am - 11:00pm
- Average price: VND 120,000 - 200,000/serving.
The attractive local pork with fish sauce. Photo: baomoi.com
Grilled meat with noodles
Grilled meat with noodles is a simple but very popular dish in Saigon thanks to its rich flavor. A full bowl of grilled meat with noodles will include smaller noodles in the bottom, some fried spring rolls on the top, some aromatic pieces of pork which are grilled on the charcoal stove and some other toppings, such as stir-fried beef, bean sprouts, crushed roasted peanuts and chopped raw vegetables. When enjoying, customers should mix the bowl of noodles well and sprinkle it with a little sweet and sour fish sauce to add more flavors. The fragrant aroma of the grilled meat blending with the freshness of raw vegetables and the soft taste of the noodles will create an impressive flavor.
- Recommended address: 195 Co Giang, Ho Chi Minh city.
- Opening hours: 7:00 - 22:00
- Price: VND 30,000 - 60,000/serving
A full bowl of grilled meat with noodles. Photo: Eva.vn
Sticky rice with chicken
Sticky rice is a very simple dish, but it has been surprisingly attracting a lot of diners because of its delicious taste. The rice selected for this dish must be the high-quality glutinous rice to assure the fragrance and stickiness. The fillings served with sticky rice are usually shredded chicken, shiitake mushrooms and fried shallots. Compared to the sticky rice with chicken in other areas, the dish in Saigon is often served with chicken organs, eggs and rich sauce.
One of the most famous restaurants offering this dish in Saigon is "Aunt Lan sticky rice with chicken":
- Address: 14B Ky Dong, District 3, Ho Chi Minh city
- Price: VND 15,000 - 20,000/serving.
Sticky rice with chicken is a popular dish in Saigon. Photo: Baomoi.com
Beef balls filled with cheese pâté
The unique feature of “beef balls filled with cheese pâté” is that the outside is similar to a large beef patty, but inside is a fragrant cheesecake blended with soft pâté. Each serving will consist of two balls in a beautiful small paper cup, served with deep spicy boiled-squid sauce. When enjoying this dish, you will be melted by the chewiness of the outside part of the beef patty, contrasted with the greasiness inside.
- Recommended address: 283 Le Van Sy, Tan Binh district, Ho Chi Minh city
- Price: VND 60,000 - 70,000/serving.
Greasy beef balls filled with cheese pâté in Saigon. Photo: sansangduhoc.vn
In fact, “Tam” rice is made from the broken rice of Vietnam. The dish is very well-known in Saigon as it was considered a “hunger relief” for the poor in the past, and has gradually become one of the culinary features of this land. A full set of “Tam rice” will include grilled ribs, grilled pork, eggs and pork rind. Traditionally, “Tam rice” is best cooked in a clay pot or a cast iron pot by firewood. Currently, people often steam the rice for a few hours until it is cooked, so even though the rice is small, it does not end up pappy and crushed.
“Ba Ghien broken rice” is one of the most famous restaurants offering this dish. A plate of mixed rice will consist of richly marinated grilled rib meat, chewy noodles and “cha chung” characterized by the rich taste of eggs and the crispness of the wood ear mushrooms.
- Recommended address: 84 Dang Van Ngu, Phu Nhuan District, Ho Chi Minh city
- Price: VND 50,000 - 80,000/serving.
Broken rice used to be a hunger relief for the poor, but it is now a specialty. Photo: riviu.vn
Vietnamese crepe (Banh xeo)
In spite of being a dish of the Western region of Vietnam, Banh xeo has always been a delicious dish, attracting many tourists coming to Ho Chi Minh city. The crispy fragrant golden cakes are made from rice flour mixed with turmeric powder, and are served with a variety of fillings such as shrimp, meat, abalone mushroom, minced meat and so on. When eaten, banh xeo is wrapped with raw vegetables and dipped in sweet and sour fish sauce. You can immerse in “the world of flavors” with the fragrant taste of the cake, the richness of meat and the freshness of raw vegetables.
- Recommended address: “An la Ghien restaurant”, 74 Suong Nguyet Anh, District 1, Ho Chi Minh city
- Average price: VND 40,000 - 50,000/person
Banh xeo with the eye-catching golden crust. Photo: foody.vn