Category Archives: Food & Drink

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)….

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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….

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The Vietnam Coracle Map

An interactive map of Vietnam with all my guides, posts, articles, reviews, and videos marked on it, including direct links from the map to all my content. The Vietnam Coracle Map will help readers navigate the content on my website, in order to get to the information they are looking for….

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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….

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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…

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Local BBQ in Phong Nha

Just north of Phong Nha town, Quán Bình Hoa serves up an excellent BBQ in a local atmosphere. Roast pork, whole roasted duck, ox tail, grilled quail stuffed with lemongrass, hot & spicy baby clams and much more await you at this smokey roadside eatery….

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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…

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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….

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Eating Bánh Khọt in Vũng Tàu

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…

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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….

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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…

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VIDEOS: Celebrating 100,000 views

To celebrate this modest milestone, I’ve compiled two video libraries: The 5 most-viewed videos on my channel, and my 5 personal favourite videos on my channel. Together they illustrate the rich diversity of Vietnam as a travel & food destination…

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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….

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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…

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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…

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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….

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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’…

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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…

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Thuan Phat Seafood Restaurant, Phan Thiet

Venture out of Mui Ne & find better, cheaper seafood in nearby Phan Thiet. More specifically, at the string of seafood restaurants lining the bờ kè (riverfront) road, where hundreds of fishing boats lie at anchor. My favourite is Thuan Phat restaurant….

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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….

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6 Reasons to Slurp Your Noodles

Slurp and suck: this should be every traveller’s primary objective when sitting down to enjoy a bowl of one of Vietnam’s famous noodle soups. Here is my guide to why you should embrace local etiquette and leave your preconceived table manners at home….

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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…

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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….

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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….

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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….

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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…

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Breakfast in Ha Giang

When I had breakfast at a noodle house in Ha Giang, Vietnam’s northernmost frontier, it was one of those occasions when food, people and place come together perfectly…

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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’…

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Hot Toddy: Rice Wine Pudding

Anyone who’s spent time in Vietnam’s highlands will have come across rượu nếp – rice wine. However, on a recent visit to Cao Bang, I was introduced to rượu nếp in its pure, non-liquid form: a hot toddy meets rice pudding…

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Grilling on Hot Rocks: Chu Quán, Dalat

One of Dalat’s new & exciting places to eat, Chu Quán is run by a young Vietnamese couple with a passion for good food & inventive decor. A smoky, open-sided BBQ-grill restaurant, this place has been buzzing since it opened…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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The People’s Food: Local Rice Eateries

There’s at least one quán cơm bình dân (common rice eatery) on every urban street in Vietnam. Offering dozens of typical, home-cooked dishes at affordable prices, these eateries feed the nation. It doesn’t get more local than this…

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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…

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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!

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Island Broth: Bún Kèn

This soup is a speciality of Phu Quoc island, in Vietnam’s extreme southwest. Packed with fish, fruit & colour; it’s a tropical island in a bowl.

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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.

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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.

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Cat Meat

Although less widely eaten than dog, cat meat is still on the menu in many Vietnamese restaurants, especially in the north. So what does it taste like?

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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…

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Street Food Week

Can you live only on street food in Vietnam? Is it any good and is it really that cheap? To find out I spent a whole week eating exclusively street food in Saigon. Find out what I ate, where I ate, & how much I spent in this Street Food Week diary.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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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