Noodle Soups

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  1. Bún Kèn noodle soup, Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

    Bún Kèn Noodles | Island Broth

    A speciality of Phu Quoc Island, bún kèn is an underrated dish that deserves a place in the pantheon of Vietnamese noodle soups. Packed with fish, fruit & colour, it’s a tropical island in a bowl.

  2. Bún Quậy Kiến Xây, Duong Dong Town, Phu Quoc Island

    Bún Quậy | ‘Stirring’ Noodles

    A seafood noodle soup native to Phu Quoc Island but with roots in the central coastal region of the mainland, bún quậy literally means ‘stirring noodles’…

  3. Best Phở in Saigon

    The Best Phở in Saigon

    It’s surprisingly difficult to find a truly outstanding bowl of phở (beef noodle soup) in Saigon. But, after 8 years living & eating in this city, I’ve finally found a place that, in my opinion, serves the best bowl of phở in Saigon…

  4. Saigon's other Lunch Lady

    Saigon’s other Lunch Lady

    Everyone knows who Saigon’s Lunch Lady is, right? Well, probably not this one. Ms Nga is 43 years old. She serves a different soup each day of the week, from her cramped, ramshackle soup stall. Originally from Thai Binh (a northern province famous for producing excellent cooks), she moved to Saigon in the mid-90s…

  5. Bún Riêu Cua Ốc - crab & snail noodle soup, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

    Bun Rieu Cua Oc: Crab & Snail Noodle Soup

    A broth of tomatoes & pulverized crab poured over white rice noodles & topped with marinated snails, bún riêu cua ốc is one of Vietnam’s most complex soups

  6. Ngoc Han Curry House, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

    Cà Ri: Vietnamese Curry in Saigon

    Serving up a mild, thick & richly aromatic curry (cà ri) with chicken or shrimp, Ngọc Hân is a small, informal, well-organized, family-run soup house on Phan Xich Long Street, Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)….

  7. Goat noodle soup in Saigon, Vietnam

    Goat Noodle Soup in Chinatown

    Deep in Saigon’s Chinatown, there’s a bowl of goat noodles that’s meaty, rich, silky and smooth. This soup is full of farmyard flavours: it’s a barn in a bowl. Make no mistake, this is a heavy breakfast, but it’ll keep you going till the evening…

  8. Phở Gia Hân, Saigon

    Phở Gia Hân, Saigon

    I was first drawn to Phở Gia Hân by the enticing aroma that wafted over the narrow street on humid evenings. A family-run soup house in a local neighbourhood, this is one of my favourite places for phở in Saigon…

  9. Instant Pot Noodles in Vietnam

    Instant Noodles: Pandemic Staple

    A national comfort food, a convenience, an indulgence & in some cases a necessity, instant noodles are a staple of the Vietnamese diet. During the pandemic, however, national consumption rose by 30%…

  10. Mì Quảng 85 Noodle House, Saigon

    Defined by its thick yellow noodles, crunchy rice crackers, quail eggs, fresh mint & salty-sweet sauce, mì quảng is a much-loved dish from Central Vietnam. The version at Mì Quảng 85 in Saigon is full of texture & colour, if a bit too sweet….

  11. The Lunch Lady's Menu

    The Lunch Lady’s Menu: An Illustrated Guide

    The Lunch Lady in Saigon is famous for serving a different soup every day of the week. Here’s her weekly menu, illustrated with tantalizing images of each of the dishes…

  12. Bun mam soup

    Bún Mắm: the Mekong in a Bowl

    Bún Mắm is a robust Vietnamese soup from the Mekong Delta. It’s packed with contrasting flavours, textures and colours. You’ll find bún mắm all over southern Vietnam, but one place in Saigon is especially good.

  13. Bò kho (beef stew)

    Beef Stew (Bò Kho)

    Bò kho (beef stew) is a hearty, spicy and aromatic broth with diced beef, carrot and lemongrass. Eaten on its own with a warm baguette for dunking or served over noodles, this is one of my favourite dishes in Vietnam.

  14. Bún Riêu is full of colour & flavour

    One of the Best Soups in Vietnam

    Nho Quan is a small, industrial town in Ninh Bình Province, 90km south of Hanoi. The bare concrete buildings and dusty streets are a far cry from the natural beauty of the surrounding area. However, hidden amongst the unappealing sprawl is one of the best soups in Vietnam…

Food Diaries & Compilations

  1. The Best Street Food Streets in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam

    7 Great Streets for Street Food in Saigon

    Saigon is arguably the best place to explore Vietnam’s extraordinary street food scene. The city boasts so many street food outlets that it feels like a gigantic open-air restaurant. This is my guide to 7 of the best streets for street food in Saigon…

  2. Eating bánh khọt in Vung Tau, Vietnam

    Eating Bánh Khọt in Vũng Tàu | 7 Places

    Bánh Khọt are delicious gems: crispy discs of rice flour batter & coconut milk, fried until they’re crunchy on the outside but moist on the inside, then wrapped in herbs & dipped in a sweet-spicy sauce. Here are 7 places to eat bánh khọt in Vũng Tàu…

  3. Food in the Time of Corona, Last Meals before Lock-Down, Vietnam

    Food in the Time of Corona: Last Meals before Lock-Down

    Before the lock-down, street food was still thriving: indeed, sitting down to a bowl of noodles was one of the only times you could take off your mask. I documented my last meals before the spread of COVID-19 forced a nationwide lock-down.

  4. Saigon to Hanoi: A Food Diary

    Saigon to Hanoi: A Food Diary

    On a recent road trip between Saigon & Hanoi I made a record of some of the meals I ate along the way, to try and illustrate the variety of food available, and what a delight it is to eat your way from one end of the country to the other…

  5. Anthony Bourdain in Vietnam: All 8 Episodes Reviewed

    Anthony Bourdain in Vietnam: All 8 Episodes Reviewed

    Anthony Bourdain felt a special attachment to Vietnam. Over the course of his TV career, he filmed multiple episodes in the country. I’ve pulled together & reviewed all 8 of his Vietnam shows…

  6. Saigon's other Lunch Lady

    Saigon’s other Lunch Lady

    Everyone knows who Saigon’s Lunch Lady is, right? Well, probably not this one. Ms Nga is 43 years old. She serves a different soup each day of the week, from her cramped, ramshackle soup stall. Originally from Thai Binh (a northern province famous for producing excellent cooks), she moved to Saigon in the mid-90s…

  7. Saigon's Street Food Ghettos, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

    Saigon’s Street Food ‘Ghettos’

    Throughout Saigon, there are clusters of crumbling old apartment complexes, all of which are on the verge of either collapse or demolition. Living conditions appear cramped and grim but, outside on the sidewalks, the street life and street food is among the best and most vibrant in the city…

  8. Com tam, Saigon

    Cơm Tấm, Saigon: 7 of my Favourites

    I love cơm tấm. Some of my happiest moments in Saigon have been sitting down with a good plate of barbecued pork & broken rice, watching the city go by. Saigon and cơm tấm are inseparable, and this city does it better than anywhere else. Cơm tấm is the quintessential Saigon experience. Here’s where to eat it….

  9. Budget Sushi in Saigon, Vietnam

    Saigon’s Budget Sushi Scene

    The last few years has seen an explosion of good-quality yet reasonably-priced sushi joints in Saigon. Décor is cheerful, ambience is informal, and customers are young & convivial: welcome to Saigon’s budget sushi scene….

  10. The Lunch Lady: A Diary

    The Lunch Lady: A Diary

    Ms Nguyen Thi Thanh is The Lunch Lady. Her famous ‘rotating menu’ (she serves a different dish each day) is a huge draw for locals, tourists & foodies from around the world. I ate lunch here everyday for a week to see how good it really is…

  11. Protein Diet Week

    My Protein Diet Week

    I spent a week on a protein diet in Saigon. I ate Vietnamese food from street vendors & informal eateries as much as possible, and I recorded it all in my Protein Diet Diary on this page…

  12. The Food Triangle, Saigon

    Everyone knows Saigon is full of great food. But there’s one corner in District 1, where you can eat three excellent meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner – in three excellent establishments, all within a few metres of each other: I call it the Food Triangle….

Cafes, Bars & Drinks

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  1. Mun's Cafe & London Pub, Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

    Mun’s Cafe & Rum Bar | Phu Quoc Island

    Overlooking an attractive bay on Phu Quoc Island, this unpretentious, open-side little beach bar & cafe is an inexpensive & informal place for a sunset cocktail…

  2. The Cafe Apartment at 14 Ton That Dam Street, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

    The Cafe Apartment at No.14 Ton That Dam, Saigon

    The old apartment block on Ton That Dam Street, in downtown Saigon, has been colonized by cool cafes, hipster bars & fashion boutiques. Gritty & intriguing architectural vestiges lurk in every nook & cranny of this enigmatic French colonial-era complex….

  3. Trà Đá: Vietnamese Iced Tea

    Trà Đá: Vietnamese Iced Tea

    One of the many little joys of daily life in Vietnam, trà đá is an essential but uncelebrated element of Vietnamese dining culture & social life…

  4. The Cafe Apartment on Nguyen Hue Street, Saigon

    The Cafe Apartment on Saigon’s Walking Street

    Boasting over 30 independent coffee shops & fashion boutiques, the old apartment block at No.42 Nguyen Hue is the coolest address on Saigon’s Walking Street. I call it the Cafe Apartment: this is my complete floor-by-floor guide…

  5. The Juice Lady, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

    The Juice Lady, Saigon

    I’ve only recently started to visit my local juice lady in Saigon. Now, however, I go there every day for fresh fruit juices & smoothies. In Vietnam, fruit juices are often served with added sugar, and smoothies with condensed milk, but it’s pretty easy to order them without…

  6. Photo & Bike Cafe, Bao Loc, Central Highlands, Vietnam

    Coffee with a View: Photo & Bike Cafe

    The Central Highlands is famous for its coffee and its mountains. Photo & Bike Cafe marries these two elements nicely, making it the perfect pit-stop on any road trip that passes through Bao Loc, on the way between Saigon and Dalat…

  7. Cafe Culture on Con Son Island

    Vietnam has a rich & thriving cafe culture – probably among the most active, dynamic, and independent cafe scenes in the world. And now, the cult of coffee has reached the remote, utterly beautiful island of Con Son, in the Con Dao Archipelago….

  8. Paradiso Beach Club, Sao Beach, Phu Quoc Island

    Paradiso Beach Club, Phu Quoc Island

    Occupying the best spot on Bai Sao, the most popular beach on Phu Quoc Island, Paradiso Beach Club is a great place to chill, drink, eat & swim…

  9. The Banyan Tree Cafe, Route 28, Central Highlands, Vietnam

    The Cafe by the Banyan Tree

    Named after a grand old tree by the roadside, this cafe is located on the scenic road between Phan Thiet & Di Linh, in the Central Highlands. With good views & strong local coffee, it makes a pleasant pit-stop on a motorbike road trip…

  10. The Boat Cafe (La Ngon), Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City

    The Boat Cafe, Saigon

    Two wooden junks floating on the milk tea-coloured waters of the Kenh Te Canal in District 7, The Boat Cafe is one of those special places in Saigon that offer respite from the noise & chaos of the city without actually leaving it…

  11. The Cafe Quarter, Phu Nhuan District, Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)

    The Café Quarter, Saigon

    In Phú Nhuận District – Saigon’s unofficial ‘café capital’ – a small grid of leafy streets plays host to a collection of trendy coffee shops. Bounded by the Thị Nghè Channel and Phan Xích Long Boulevard, I call this the ‘Café Quarter’…

  12. The hidden 'indie' cafes of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam

    Saigon’s Hidden Cafes

    Saigon has thousands of independent coffee shops. Hidden down narrow alleyways, tucked away in forgotten colonial villas, or concealed in enigmatic old apartment buildings, there’s a whole sub-culture of ‘indie’ cafes in this city. These are my favourites.

  13. Rooftop Cocktails

    TOP 5: Rooftop Cocktails in Saigon

    Saigon is at the heart of Vietnam’s economic boom: new high-rises and five-star hotels go up every year. On the upper storeys there are stylish bars with views over the city, catering to the country’s nouveau-riche and wealthy foreign visitors. But, with the price of drinks still relatively low, rooftop cocktails are affordable for travellers on all budgets, especially if you make the most of Happy Hours.

  14. Cà Phê Bệt, Saigon

    Cà Phê Bệt: Saigon’s Street Coffee Scene

    At 5 o’clock in the afternoons in Saigon, high schools and universities disgorge their students into the busy streets. Dusk is one of the coolest times of day, and many of these students head for one of the city’s parks, where they buy food and drink from street vendors and sit on the grass talking into the evening hours – this is Cà Phê Bệt.

Strange Food

  1. Snails, Saigon

    Snails & Shellfish: A Guide

    Snail eating is incredibly popular in Vietnam. A night of shells & beer is a very local experience. Young & old feast late into the night. The snails come in all shapes and sizes and they’re delicious. ‘Shell tapas’ is a fun night out that everyone should try

  2. Make the effort; it's worth it!

    Fetal Duck Egg

    If you like eggs, you’ll love fetal duck eggs! They are, quite simply, ‘eggier’ than regular chicken eggs. Don’t be put off by the name or what they look like; this is a great, tasty, nutritious and cheap road-side snack anywhere in Vietnam.

  3. Where to Eat Chè in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam

    Sweet Saigon: Where to Eat Chè

    A kaleidoscopic world of luminous colours, shifting shapes, unfamiliar textures, esoteric ingredients & rich flavours, chè is a fascinating sub-category of Vietnamese cuisine. Commonly translated as ‘dessert’, in reality chè is so filling & nutritious that it’s a meal in itself….

  4. Rice wine pudding

    Hot Toddy | Rice Wine Pudding in Cao Bang

    Fermented glutinous rice mixed together with an egg & steamed to create a mildly alcoholic rice pudding…..for breakfast

  5. Rat meat

    Rat Meat

    Each morning for the last couple months I’ve opened my front gate in Saigon to greet the new day, only to find a fresh mound of rat droppings on my door step. By way of ‘revenge’ I decided to pay a visit to one of Saigon’s rat meat restaurants…

  6. Quán Ốc Cẩm snail restaurant, Saigon, Vietnam

    Quán Ốc Cẩm: Shell Feast

    Dining out on snails, shellfish & beer is a national pastime in Vietnam. Everyone has their favourite quán ốc (snail restaurant) for a night of shells, booze, banter & fun: Quán Ốc Cẩm, in Saigon’s District 10, is one of mine…

  7. Horse Meat in Vietnam

    Horse Meat

    After the horse meat scandal in 2013, many people in Europe discovered they’d eaten horse without knowing it, but in Saigon some restaurants specialize in horse meat, and it really is delicious!

Food & Drink Map

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