Vietnam’s Top 11 Dishes and Where to Eat Them in Ho Chi Minh City

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These are my favorite dishes from Vietnam, and the ones I crave most after living there for 2 years. If you’re headed to Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon, I’ve also included the best places to try these unique and wonderful meals.

Pho

Pho Bo or Beef Noodle Soup

Vietnamese Noodle Soup

If you’re new to Vietnamese food it’s probably best to start here. This is Vietnam’s most widely recognized dish. Noodles in an incredibly flavourful broth with chicken or beef.

More About Pho

There are a ton of great pho places in Vietnam. By far, it’s the most widely eaten dish. If you go to a place that’s busy, you’ll probably have a great bowl, but for years the question of ‘who has the best pho in Saigon?’ has been asked. I can’t say for sure, but here are a couple that I enjoy.

Pho Le

2 locations! 303-304 Vo Van Tan, District 3 and 413 Nguyễn Trãi, District 5
Often called the best in all of Vietnam. The broth comes shining with beef fat (a good sign!). Some criticize them for using too much MSG, but I don’t know and don’t care.

Pho Quynh

323 Phạm Ngũ Lão, district 1
This is the first place I ever at pho in Saigon. Maybe that makes this selection a bit bias, but it was recommended to me by a little old lady that has been living down the street her whole life. Even though this little shop is right on the backpacker street, you’ll still find locals eating its amazing food. The prices are a bit higher here, but you’re only paying about $3 for a bowl of magic.

Banh Mi

Banh Mi Op La or Vietnamese Egg Sandwich

Vietnamese Sandwich

For a quick breakfast, stop at a banh mi stand and pick up one of these sandwiches. The bread is fresh and crusty, the egg is fried up on the spot, and the rest of banh mi’s fillings come together perfectly.

More About Banh Mi

These crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside sandwiches are all the rage now. The toppings come together to make a sweet-salt-sour combo that few sandwiches offer. For breakfast, an egg with pork belly really hits the spot, but don’t be afraid to try something different, like sardines or the Vietnamese version of the doner kebab.

Banh Mi Huynh Hoa

26 Lê Thị Riêng, district 1
Huynh Hoa packs a mean banh mi. While others are stingy on their toppings, this place will make a meal out of your sandwich. Their cha (Vietnam’s version of ham) is top-notch. The rumour is, the place is run by a family of transgendered people. I’m sure that’s just someone’s joke about their meaty sandwiches gone too far. They’re only open in the afternoon, so no breakfast sandwich here.

Banh Mi Hong Hoa

62 Nguyen Van Trang, district 1
Just around the corner from Huynh Hoa is this amazing sandwich place. They open early and serve both opla (sunnyside up eggs) and heo quay (roasted pork) — my kind of breakfast sandwich. They are cheaper, but use less fillings.

Bo Kho

Bo Kho or Vietnamese Beef Stew

Vietnamese Beef Stew

Hunks of beef are slowly cooked in a rich flavourful broth with carrots, star anise, and lemongrass. It’s usually served with banh mi, steamed rice, or noodles.

More About Bo Kho

This is a tough one to find. Vietnam’s beef isn’t great, and you’ll find a lot of places using grizzled cuts that require a mechanical jaw to make swallow-able. Fortunately, there are a few places that use quality cuts that stew to perfection. You can get this dish with noodles or a baguette. In the land of noodle soups, I always get the banh mi baguette for tearing and dipping.

Phở Quỳnh

323 Phạm Ngũ Lão
I already recommended this place for its pho, but it might be an even better option for its bo kho. I think the tourist prices (65,000 VND for a bowl) are worth it. The meat quality is better and more generous than other options in district 1.

Bò Kho Út Nhung

109/7 Nguyễn Thiện Thuật, district 3
This place is well known for its bo kho, but it doesn’t start serving it until 1pm. If you go in the morning, they serve some decent pho. The cost when I was there last was 35,000 VND. A great option if you’re up in district 3.

Banh Xeo

Banh Xeo or Vietnamese sizzling pancakes

Vietnamese Sizzling Pancake

A savuory crepe filled with shrimp, pork, and vegetables. The batter is made with rice flour and tumeric. Bánh Xèo is usually eaten by tearing a piece off and wrapping it in rice paper along with some herbs and lettuce. It’s a cheap and delicious meal.

More About Banh Xeo

Don’t miss the opportunity to try this dish in Vietnam. It’s one of the more unique ones that is fun to eat and tastes incredible. The crepe comes with herbs and greens, and usually rice paper. You can take a piece of rice paper, wipe it with damp lettuce, then pack it with herbs, greens, and a hunk of the pancake, then roll it and dip it in the nuoc mam (a sweet sauce). If there is no rice paper, then wrap it in the lettuce instead.

Banh Xeo 46A

46A D Dinh Cong Trang
46A is no secret. Anthony Bourdain has shot here, it’s featured in the guide books, and you’ll probably see some westerners here. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. It does, however, mean you’ll pay a bit more for a giant crepe (75,000 VND). For that extra money, you get a more westernized banh xeo – shrimp heads removed, giant portion, maybe some English spoken.

Bun Bo Hue

Bun Bo Hue or Hue Style Beef Noodle Soup

Hue Style Beef Noodle Soup

A beef soup that’s spicier than pho, has a lemongrass infused broth, and uses thicker, round rice noodles. It usually contains slices of beef shank, and sometimes chunks of pig’s feet, congealed pork blood, and cha lua (Vietnamese pork loaf).

More About Bun Bo Hue

Once I heard Anthony Bourdain call this his favorite soup. I think I prefer a few others on this list, but this Hue specialty deserves to be sloppily slurped up on your trip to Vietnam.

Bun Bo Hue 31

31 Mac Dinh Chi Street, District 1
For 30,000 VND you can have a lunch that will give you a goofy smile on your face for the rest of the day. It’s close to the American embassy – convenient for Americans who want to renounce their citizenship so they can stay in Vietnam, where the bun bo Hue is plentiful.

Bún Bò Huế Gia Định

469 Bạch Đằng, District Binh Thanh
Not exactly convenient to the tourist area, but this place has to be on the list. It’s generous helpings of meat and flavorful broth, makes it an amazing option for bun bo Hue in southern Vietnam. They also have great pho.

Bun Rieu Cua

Bun Rieu Cua or Vietnamese Crab Noodle Soup

Vietnamese Crab Noodle Soup

Freshwater crabs and tomatoes make up this soup’s broth, then rice vermicelli noodles, pork, and tofu soak up the flavours.

More About Bun Rieu Cua

This is like no other soup you’ve ever had. The broth is made with smashed up crabs, which are bubbled for hours, shell and all, before being filtered out and served with noodles, maybe some coagulated blood, and usually a hunk of pig’s foot.

Bún riêu Nguyễn Cảnh Chân

18/5 Nguyen Canh Chan, District 1
Amazing ingredients in a mind-blowing incredible broth. This place is close to everything and reasonably priced. It’s the only bun rieu place you need in Saigon.

Bun Moc

Bun Moc or Pork and Mushroom Meatball Soup

Pork and Mushroom Meatball Soup

Pork paste is rolled with chopped mushrooms to make a delicious meatball that happily floats in a light broth with vermicelli rice noodles. Often served with a generous helping of cha lua (Vietnamese pork loaf).

More About Bun Moc

Oh bun moc, an assortment of pig parts that can only be described as glorious. Since pig is the most delicious animal, I declare bun moc the most delicious soup in Vietnam. It’s packed with slices of cha lua, pigs foot, and moc-balls (pork and mushroom meatballs). Some vendors will include slices of roasted pork, or even deep-fried bits of pork skin. Oh my god! Yes!

Bún Mọc Thanh Mai

14 Trương Định
Conveniently located down the street from Ben Thanh Market, this joint is always packed with locals. It’s the only place I know that serves bun moc in district 1, and they do a pretty good job of it. A decent sized portion is 45,000 VND.

Bún Mọc Mây

14 Đường Số 31, district 4
Although it’s a bit hard to find and not really close to anything but other good food, May may be the best place for bun moc in the city. The atmosphere is pleasant. The price is fair (30,000 VND per bowl). The food is goooood. Note: it closes from 11:00am-4:00pm.

Bun Thit Nuong

Bun Thit Nuong or Grilled Pork and Vermicelli

Grilled Pork and Vermicelli

Vermicelli rice noodles with grilled pork, a spring roll, and various greens. Served with nuoc cham.

More About Bun Thit Nuong

This might be the perfect meal. The flavors pop at the right times and are balanced. As are the textures. It’s filling, cheap, and pretty healthy. I love me some bun thit nuong.

Chị Tuyền

195 Cô Giang, district 1
This is the go-to place. The location works, the price isn’t bad (45,000), and most importantly the food is yummmmy. Make sure you get the one with cha gio (spring rolls). Their spring rolls are made giant and with the traditional rice paper (rather than the easier wheat based wrappers). Note: if the menu says “khong cha gio” that means “no spring roll”.

Hieu Tieu

Hu Tieu Nam Vang or Phnom Penh Noodle Soup

Phnom Penh Noodle Soup

A hearty noodle soup filled with a variety of protein — pork, beef, seafood, etc.

More About Hu Tieu

There are 2 main kinds of hu tieu sold in Saigon: hu tieu Nam Vang and hu tieu My Tho. Nam Vang actually means Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital. It usually has more pork in it. My Tho refers to a city in the Mekong Delta. Its version tends to have more seafood.

Thanh Xuan

62 Tôn Thất Thiệp, district 1
For the My Tho version, you won’t find a more authentic version than this place. In fact, it was the first to do it in Saigon and has been around for over 70 years.

Tùng Hưng

147 Trần Hưng đạo, district 1
The Nam Vang version isn’t hard to find in Saigon, but this place is great because it has a bit more variety. You can get your soup with wheat noodles (instead of rice noodles) and they have freshly made wantons (hoanh thanh) that take any ‘perfect 10’ soup and turn it up to 11.

Mi Quang

Mi Quang or Quang Style Noodles

Quang Style Noodles

Quảng Nam province is probably best known for its turmeric infused noodles. The protein in this dish varies but it’s almost always served with sesame rice crackers which provide a brilliant crunch.

More About Mi Quang

This bowl of noodley goodness is brought to you by the food gods. I’ve often had this conversation:
“What do you want for lunch?”
“I don’t know. I’m not really in the mood for anything.”
“What about mi quang?”
“Good lord! YES! Let’s do it! I want it now!”
It’s probably the dish I crave most in Vietnam.

Mì Quảng Ăn Là Ghiền

15A Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, district 1
A simple place with a great bowl of quang. To be honest, there aren’t a ton of options for this central Vietnam dish, but this place serves up a satisfying bowl in district 1. The prices are reasonable and there are a nice variety of proteins. Personally, I prefer the ‘suon’ (pork ribs), but the ‘tom’ (shrimp) is also a popular option.

Mì Quảng – Don Quỳnh Khương

409/5 Nguyễn Trọng Tuyển, district Tân Bình
Not the most convenient of locations, but arguably the most delicious. The ‘dac biet’ or ‘special’ is everything you’ve ever dreamed of in a bowl. For 50,000VND it might be the cheapest way to change your life forever.

Banh Cuon

Banh Cuon or Pork and Mushroom Stuffed Rice Rolls

Pork and Mushroom Stuffed Rice Rolls

Steamed rice noodle is rolled up with wood mushrooms and ground pork. Served with a sweet sauce and herbs.

More About Banh Cuon

To me, this is Vietnamese food like no-other. Steamed fermented liquid rice, made into a wrap and filled with pork and mushrooms. This is a northern Vietnamese dish, but it’s a must-try if you set foot anywhere in the country.

Banh Cuon Thien Huong

2 locations! 155 Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, district 1 and 197 Ba Thang Hai, district 3
Hey look, I found a video of banh cuon being made at Thien Huong. You can try their variations on the dish (shrimp, egg, etc), but you can’t go wrong with the original recipe.

For a convenient walking tour that covers many of these dishes, check out my Top 10 Eats in Saigon Walkli map

MAP: The Best Dishes in Vietnam and Where to Find them in Saigon

Looking for more dishes to try? Have a look at THE ALTERNATIVE WAYS’ 10 Local Foods Not To Miss.

For more Vietnam than you can shake a chopstick at, visit my ULTIMATE BUDGET GUIDE TO VIETNAM! it covers the whole country and shows you how to travel it for only $20/day.