“If you want to feel the spirit of this city, you should eat the food and meet the locals”, the foreign tourist wrote in a travel forum. As you can see, trying Saigon food is one of the highlight activities when you visit this city. Food in Saigon is a special combination of other regions, so let’s start a cultural exploration in the city!
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Price: From 35.000 VND per dish
Recommendation: Com tam Phuc Loc Tho – No. 236 Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Da Kao, Ward 1
The first dish for the Saigon food checklist is its unique rice. Coming to Saigon, just ask people here which specialty dish should be eaten first, the answer will be “Com Tam”. In the past, it is one of the most popular breakfast dishes of Saigon people. However, these days, broken rice is a familiar dish for all 3 main meals of Vietnamese people with various side food such as grilled chop pork, and grilled pork skin. Com tam is always served on a plate, and each plate contains full of toppings, like vegetables, meat, salty and sweet sauces, and herbs.
>>> Book a tour to Saigon: Vietnam Essential Tour – 7 Days
A special feature of broken rice is that the rice used to cook is broken rice. A famous plate of broken rice is not only delicious, but behind it is a story about the poverty and hardship of the Vietnamese people in the past. Therefore, Com tam is not only food but also a historical symbol that remains today.
Due to its special origin and savory taste, Com Tam receives compliments from communication all over the world. In 2018, the Korean EBS television station has a clip about this delicious dish in Saigon. They noted that “If you come to Ho Chi Minh City without trying broken rice, you will not fully understand this city.” Also in 2018, CNN announced that Sai Gon broken rice was one of the 40 most delicious specialties in Vietnam. After that, in 2019, the Culture Trip honored Saigon Com Tam as one of the best dishes in Vietnam.
Price: From 35.0000 VND per dish
Recommendation: Linh Snail – 111/1A Number 8 Street, Ward 11, Go Vap District
Snails are not only provided in restaurants but also appear in many Saigon eating destinations. This kind of food is a very popular snack with many different ways of processing, giving an unmistakable taste. Each restaurant uses many types of snails to cook into many different dishes such as boiled snails, spicy fried snails with tamarind, fried snails with chili pepper, and grilled snails… for users to freely choose.
Combined with the typical sweet sauce, spicy chili, and salted figs, the snail dish creates the dusty style of Saigon people. In particular, try this dish in winter, the characteristic hot and spicy flavor will give you a feeling of relaxation in the cold winter days of November and December.
Price: From 30.000 VND per dish
Recommendation: Hu Tieu Nam Vang – Thanh Xuan – 62 Ton That Thiep Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
Hu Tieu is a strange name and has a strange taste. Many people are confused about the noodle soup with pho in Hanoi, but it’s different from the process to the ingredients. Saigon noodle soup has characteristics that create a very Southern style.
Soft noodles combined with a carefully prepared broth, adding a few special spices to create a special dish with a strong spicy flavor of the people of the South. If you eat noodles, remember to add some raw vegetables to make the dish more flavorful. Vegetable is also a plus for the dish because they will make the food becomes more fresh and frugal.
You can eat Hu Tieu for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Each bowl of noodles soup is hot, full of topping, and can warm up your tummy immediately.
Price: From 20.000 VND per dish
Recommendation: 38 Nguyen Thuong Hien Street, Ward 5, District 3
This is a dish originating from the Central region, but now it has become a popular dish across the country. As food in Saigon, the salad brings a bit of a strange taste of the South. The dish is popular thanks to the shredded rice paper mixed with ingredients of dried beef, dried shrimp, quail eggs, mango, laksa leaves, satay, shrimp salt, and a little kumquat, creating a sweet and sour taste. You can also feel the unique deliciousness of mixed rice paper with a little spicy chili and chopped laksa leaves.
Besides the fried kind, this food can also be rolled into a roll. After being rolled, you will pour the avocado or tamarind sauce to enhance the flavor. Don’t forget to sprinkle some fried onion to make them more attractive.
Price: From 200.000 VND per person
Place: 181 Ly Tu Trong Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1
East West Brewing is known as one of the most loved draft beer restaurants. Here, you will enjoy the handmade dishes produced in a closed line full of quality. The food in Saigon is cooked well and varied, you can enjoy the luxurious space with delicious beer and food at East West Brewing.
Besides, there is a super delicious food menu that is irresistible, meeting the criteria of affordable, beautiful space. So the East-West is always busy, you should book a table before going.
Price: From 50.000 VND per person
Place: 13 Pasteur, Nguyen Thai Binh Ward, District 1
Rogue is known as one of the beer bars with a great rooftop view combined with good music taste, many activities, and great music games. There is also a stage for the underground artists to perform. You will have the opportunity to listen to indie music from pop, and guitar to rock. It’s really exciting to feel Saigon from this point of view. In addition, the place is convenient to find and visit. Besides, the food in Saigon here is delicious as its price, although it’s not diverse.
Vietnam is known as the paradise of street food, and Saigon is also a place for lots of famous street food. Wander around Saigon streets, join the markets at night, you can easily taste lots of street food at a comfortable price. However, one note for you: the above dishes are also considered street food, which can be sold in many Ho Chi Minh street eateries, they’re popular and can be served in a rustic way. Hence, there are just some more suggestions for your street food tour.
Price: From 30.000 VND per dishRecommendation: Dat Thanh Fried rice flour cakes – 277 Vo Van Tan, Ward 5, District 3
Fried rice flour cakes are a simple dish originating from China, introduced to Vietnam and other countries. This food soonly becomes a common breakfast, dinner, or late-night snack of Saigonese. The fried dough dish is prepared quite easily with the recipe from rice flour, eggs, shredded papaya, soy sauce, garlic, and green onions. To eat the cakes, you should pour a little soy sauce to make a flavor taste.
Many Saigonese and visitors love fried rice flour cakes due to their easy-to-find ingredients, quick cooking, and special taste. Although the food is served on a day-to-day basis, you should enjoy it on the cold days in Saigon for the best flavor, around November and December.
Price: From 10.000 VND per piece
Recommendation: Let’s check out the cart along the streets
The origin of the name is because the cake is like the shape of a bird’s nest In some places, bird’s nest cake is also known as cone cake. An authentic cake must ensure the chewy taste of cooked rice flour in the heart of the cake, the sponginess of the outer shell, and the cool sweetness of sugar and coconut water. Besides, the shapes of the cakes must not be flat, the color should be more yellow on the border around the cake.
However, recently the vendors selling this kind of cake are slightly disappearing from the street, making it harder to find the food. Therefore, you’re so lucky that you can taste the traditional cake in Ho Chi Minh city at least once!
Price: From 7.000 VND per egg
Recommendation: Balut is commonly sold in street carts, and small eateries as individual food, and can be sold in the restaurant as a side food, such as being put in a hot pot.
Saigonese is interested in balut as their favorite breakfast and afternoon meal. The most popular kind of this food is boiled balut, which can retain the original taste. To eat the food, you just have to add a little salt, pepper, rice vinegar, a few laksa leaves, and some slices of ginger. However, remember that the balut must be well-cooked, otherwise, you will get a stomach ache. The well-cook one will have no red inside the egg.
Moreover, this is not just a kind of food but also the Saigonese folk beliefs. They usually call balut the up-side-down duck eggs according to the Vietnamese meaning. The “up-side-down” word also shows that the bad things can turn into good things, therefore Saigonese believe that when they eat the odd numbers of balut, they can remove the bad luck from their life.
However tasty the food is, many people find it disgusting to put the baby duck part in their mouths. But the taste and the nutrients of this food make it unputdownable for those who are familiar with the look of balut. So beginners, just calm down and forget the detail to take a bite!
Checking the list of food in Saigon, we’re sure that the last thing that you regret is that you can’t taste all of the food. Therefore, if you’re planning to visit Saigon, please spend at least 3 days exploring and get lost in the food paradise.
To have the most interesting experience, we highly recommend you to book a package tour, to experience the local things most conveniently. Belongs with that, you can travel with the local tour guide, who deeply understands the Saigon culture. Asianway Travel will always support you with hundreds of tailor-made tours, please check it out.