Eating in Văn Thánh Market, Bình Thạnh District, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City

Văn Thánh Market Food Guide | Sài Gòn

Every Saigon neighbourhood has a local fresh produce market. Mine is Văn Thánh, where there are dozens of good, inexpensive street food vendors, cafes & juice stalls…

Ngõ Ngách, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ngõ Ngách: Hanoi Snacks on a Saigon Alley

A diminutive eatery hidden down a narrow alleyway in Saigon, Ngõ Ngách is a simple but atmospheric place specializing in Hanoi snacks…

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

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)….

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….

Exploring life along Saigon's railway line, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Exploring Saigon’s Railway Tracks: A Guide

Lined with intriguing architecture, temples, shrines, pagodas, fruit trees, flowers, cafes, casual dining & other such urban miscellanea, exploring the lanes alongside Saigon’s railway tracks, on foot or on two wheels, is a fascinating experience….

Coconut ice cream at Nguyen Huong, District 10, Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)

Coconut Ice Cream in Saigon

In the heart of one of Saigon’s best street food neighbourhoods, Nguyen Huong offers up a colourful, textural, tasty, Thai-style coconut ice cream. This sweet treat is a fun way to end a night of street food exploration along the buzzing sidewalks of District 10…

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…

Hai Dang Vegetarian Restaurant, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Hải Đăng Vegetarian Restaurant, Saigon

Hải Đăng is a simple, local, informal vegetarian restaurant in Saigon’s Binh Thanh District. The sheer variety and freshness of vegetable dishes on offer (not just tofu and ‘fake meat’) sets it apart from other Vietnamese vegetarian eateries in the city….

Hieu Map BBQ shop, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City

Meat Feast: Hieu Map BBQ Shop

A very local, long-running establishment offering a variety of cheap, simple and tasty barbecued meats to take away, Hieu Map BBQ Shop is a decent option for a meat feast to share with friends….

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…

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…

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….

Bò kho (beef stew), Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Two Saigon Soup Houses

There are thousands of soup houses in Saigon: these are just two of them, but they are good ones, and they both offer three different kinds of soups. One of them is a longtime favourite of mine; the other was a recent ‘random encounter’…

Dim Sum in Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Dim Sum in Saigon

Dim sum is increasingly popular in Saigon. But my favourite dumpling joint is an old-timer in Chinatown. Boasting a 10 page bible of dim sum dishes, this unassuming place offers great variety, quality and value for money…

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…

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…

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…

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….

Grilled chicken corner, Binh Thanh District, Saigon

Grilled Chicken Corner, Saigon

At night, a scented fog hangs over a busy intersection in Saigon. The aromatic haze is the ‘Chicken Mist’ resulting from a dozen roadside barbecues hissing, smoking and grilling hundreds of fresh chicken carcasses. This is Chicken Corner, and this is where you come to get your poultry fix of crispy, tasty, delicious, grilled chicken in Saigon…

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….

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….

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….

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…

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’…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Bún thịt nướng: an elegant classic

Bún Thịt Nướng: An Elegant Classic

This cold noodle salad is a classic of southern Vietnam. Simple, cool & refreshing, bún thịt nướng is the perfect antidote to the heat & humidity of the south.

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…

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!

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.

Cooking over the bếp than (charcoal grill)

Bếp Than Eatery: Vietnamese Tapas

Bếp Than Eatery is a small, cool, and ‘cutesy’ place to relax with some lite Vietnamese snacks & mojitos by the Thi Nghe Channel in Saigon: a great place to ‘snack & chat’ with friends.

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.

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.

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.

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

Cơm Tấm - Vietnamese 'Fry-up'

Broken Rice & Pork Stew, Saigon

Wherever you are in Vietnam, you can always rely on broken rice or pork stew to fill you up. Breakfast, lunch or dinner; these two pork dishes are always available. Forget phở – the famous beef noodle soup – the real national dish of Vietnam is pork and rice!

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