Best Vietnamese Restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City
For most travelers, sampling Vietnamese food is one of the main reasons for visiting the city. The distinctive flavours and fresh ingredients are insanely delicious. Ho Chi Minh City is a massive food hub. Authentic local cuisine can be found everywhere from upscale restaurants to roadside stalls. With so many options, how’s a backpacker to find the best Vietnamese food?
That’s where Mad Monkey comes in. We’ve rounded up the 7 Best Ho Chi Minh City Vietnamese Restaurants. Whatever you’re craving, one of these spots will serve you up the best of the best. Bon appetit!
1. Banh Mi Huynh Hoa
Any adventure in Vietnamese food needs to start off with the country’s most popular snack: Banh Mi. ‘Banh Mi’ is Vietnamese for ‘bread.’ Specifically, the name refers to the baguette that the sandwich is served on. It’s more airy than a Western baguette. The best place to sample the classic Vietnamese sandwich is Banh Mi Huynh Hoa – “the banh mi heaven.”
Banh Mi is typically thought of as a street food sold in mobile carts. Banh Mi Hyunh Hoa is a permanent shop, though – the most established banh mi place in the city. It’s a well-known tourist attraction in Ho Chi Minh City. On any given day it is swarming with locals, tourists, and food bloggers.
Banh Mi Hyunh Hoa is a tiny, casual shop in Ho Chi Minh City District 1. You’ll know you’re in the right place if you see bright, fluorescent lights and staff bustling around in red uniforms. There will also likely be a ridiculously long line of hungry customers. The queue is disorganized and a bit chaotic, but it’s all worth it once you sink your teeth into their signature sandwich.
There’s a wide range of options for your meat filling: seasoned pork belly (steamed or roasted), sausage, grilled pork, grilled chicken, pork floss, chicken floss, pork liver pate, canned sardines in tomato sauce, ore even soft pork meatballs. You can also add fried eggs, mock duck, tofu, or cheese.
Once you’ve chosen your meat, it’s time to choose some vegetables. The classic options are cilantro, carrots, daikon, and fresh cucumber slices. Top it all off with some mayonnaise, cheese, spicy chili sauce, and/or sliced chilis.
The banh mi at Banh Mi Huynh Hoa are the richest and most filling in all of Ho Chi Minh City. They stuff the baguette until it’s overflowing. A sandwich here will cost you more about 35,000 Dong. That’s more than you’d pay in the street, but you get what you pay for: delicious flavour and tons of toppings.
Location: 26 Lê Thị Riêng, Bến Thành, 1, Hồ Chí Minh City
Hours: 3:30pm – midnight (Monday to Sunday)
2. Pho Phuong 25
Pho is a hugely popular Vietnamese beef noodle soup. It has become a staple in the Vietnamese diet, and nearly every restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City has a version of it on their menu. You can sample pho everywhere from street kiosks to luxury restaurants. One spot has earned a reputation for serving the best pho, though: Pho Phuong 25. It’s a favourite among locals and visitors alike.
Pho originated in northern Vietnam, with a French influence. It consists of broth, banh pho (rice noodles), meat (either chicken or beef), and herbs. Pho Phuong 25 is known for its unique flavours and generous portions. There are many variations on the menu. The bestseller is the Pho with Rare Beef.
The rich aroma of of pho will hit you while you’re still walking up the street to Pho Phuong 25. It’s a fragrant mix: sweetness, mixed with simmering beef, as well as the homey smell of vegetables. The most dominant smell wafting from the restaurant, though, is cinnamon. This key ingredient lingers on your tastebuds long after your bowl is emptied. Pho Phuong 25’s special mix of cinnamon, cloves, shallots, star anise, beef, and coriandar is delectable and soothing.
The restaurant itself is a modest, nondescript place found in a peaceful corner of District 1. It sits on the bank of Thi Nge Channel. This famous eatery has been operating for over 30 years. There’s only the one location – the family that runs it comes from North Vietnam. They know what they do, and they do it well. A bowl of pho from Pho Phuong 25 costs around $2.
Location: 25 Hoàng Sa, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Hours: 6:00am – 9:00am (Monday to Sunday)
3. The Old Compass Cafe
The Old Compass Café is the newest restaurant on this list. It opened in September 2016, and it has already made an awesome impression around Ho Chi Minh City. It has quickly become known for its awesome menu selection and winning vibes.
During the day, the Old Compass Café is a simple, cozy hub for food and leisure. By night, this café transforms into a small, charming wine bar with live tunes. The wine list is excellent, and the coffee and cocktails aren’t to be missed. The real highlight here, though, is the food. The dishes are Vietnamese based, but infused with international flavours. The end result is fresh, original, and innovative. We’d recommend the meatballs, and of course the banh mi.
Not only is the food delicious, it’s also reasonably priced. The owner and all the staff are known for being very friendly and speaking great English. They go out of their way to assist guests. It’s no wonder that both locals and foreigners keep coming back to this place.
The Old Compass Cafe is close to the city center, but it feels like an escape within the city. The tranquil atmosphere will melt your stress away. It’s a bit hard to locate, but so worth it. Do some research beforehand so you know where you’re heading.
Location: 3rd Floor 63/11 Pasteur St, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Hours: 9:00am – 9:00pm (Sunday to Thursday), 10:30am – 11:30pm (Friday & Saturday)
4. Quan Oc A Soi
Snails for lunch may not sound appetizing to all of us, but they’re irresistible to the adventurous travel eater. “Oc” is Vietnamese for “snails.” Snails are a staple at Vietnamese celebrations and get-togethers, so there are tons of snail restaurants (“Quan Oc”) in Ho Chi Minh City. It can be hard to know where to start if you’re new to snail-eating.
We’ve got the inside scoop for you, though. The most popular Quan Oc in Ho Chi Minh City is Quan Oc A Soi. It’s a small restaurant in District 1. The fresh goods (snails and seafood) are showcased right out front. There’s a huge array of snails to choose from, and even more ways to enjoy them. You can have them stir-fried, steamed, sautéed, grilled, or coated in salt and chili.
Here are some of the specialties from the menu:
- Oc Mo: a small, tasty snail often called ‘the common periwinkle’
- Oc Len Xao Dura: small mud-creeper snails stewed in thick, sweet coconut curry with a side of coriander. You suck the snail out of its shell like an oyster.
- Oc Huong Rang Muoi Ot: snails stir-fried in a hot pan and swathed in a combination of lime juice, chili, and salt.
Our recommendation to wash it all down? A nice, cool beer. Some liquid courage might make the snails easier to stomach, too. If they really aren’t your thing, though, Quan Oc a Soi offers plenty of other seafood delights. Try the crab, shrimp, fish, scallops, or noodle soup.
Location: 327 – 329 Nguyễn Thượng Hiền, Quarter 3, Ho Chi Minh City
Hours: 4:00pm – 10:00pm (Monday to Sunday)
5. 3T Quan Nuong Vietnamese Barbecue
Grilling is the signature cooking style at 3T Quan Nuong. This breezy Vietnamese barbeque restaurant is found on the rooftop of Temple Club in Ho Chi Minh City. It has established itself as one of the best barbeque joints in the city. What makes this an awesome dining experience is that you get to cook your food just how you like it, right there at the table.
3T Quan Nuong has a charming rooftop setting. Pretty lanterns and creeping greenery make the space feel like a hideaway above the city. The outdoor seating also helps the smoke from the grills dissipate almost immediately. Even the laziest cooks tend to get into the fun. You can throw anything you like on the grill: prawns, octopus, squid, beef, frog legs, and so on. Every meal is an adventure.
The atmosphere inside 3T Quan Nuong is bustling, but laid back and cheerful. Don’t come here expecting superior customer service. The staff are too busy running between tables to take much time chatting you up. You might even have to wait a bit for a table. But you and your crew will make your own fun here, playing grill master and coming up with delicious combinations. If you’re really in a hurry, you can reserve a table ahead of time.
Location: 29-31 Ton That Thiep, 2nd floor Dist.1 Ho Chi Minh City
Hours: 5:00pm – 11:00pm (Monday to Sunday)
6. Com Nieu Sai Gon
No list of Ho Chi Minh City Vietnamese restaurants would be complete without Com Nieu Sai Gon. Anthony Bourdain (host of Parts Unknown) called it “the one place visitors should not miss” in Ho Chi Minh City. Com Nieu Sai Gon is found in District 3. They specialize in clay-pot-baked rice covered in sauce and scallions.
“Com Nieu Sai Gon, a restaurant run by the impressive Madame Ngoc, is my favorite place in town,” says Bourdain. “Everything is good – and travelers who’ve followed up on my recommendation to eat there never return unsatisfied.”
When you walk into Com Nieu Sai Gon, you’re greeted by the sound of cracking plates. No need for alarm – it’s all part of the experience. If you order the “hotpot” (clay-baked rice), you’re in for a presentation with some flair. One waiter will break a clay pot around a set of sticky rice. Then he’ll toss it across the room to another waiter, who will catch it on a plate and set it down in front of you. Like this:
The hotpot may have the most unusual delivery, but everything on the menu at Com Nieu Sai Gon is delicious. Bring some friends so you can sample a bit of everything. The salted chicken, fresh spring rolls, and pancakes are all popular. The staff are also known for being friendly and helpful. Overall, this is one of our favourite Ho Chi Minh City Vietnamese restaurants.
Location: 59, Hồ Xuân Hương, phường 6, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
Hours: 9:00am – 11:00pm (Monday to Sunday)
7. Maison Marou
A chocolate shop may not seem like an obvious inclusion on a list of Ho Chi Minh City Vietnamese restaurants. These aren’t your typical chocolates, though. Maison Marou is a gourmet café pâtisserie, and chocolate factory. Their curated collection of chocolate bon bons bring you “Vietnam in a box.”All the ingredients come from Vietnam’s lush jungles and rich delta farms. The coffee beans are locally grown, too.
Maison Marou is located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, on Calmette Street. It’s not far from the famous Ben Than Market. You’ll know when you’re getting close because of the intoxicating aroma of cocoa powder and freshly roasted coffee. A trip to Maison Marou is a treat for all the senses. The bright, airy interior and design will put you at ease. Behind the open counter, you can watch the chocolates and delicacies being made. When you decide what to try for yourself, the fine exotic ingredients burst with flavour in your mouth.
So no, it’s not Vietnamese food like you’re used to thinking of it. Vietnam has a varied and nuanced cuisine, though, and it would be a mistake not to explore its sweet side. You don’t need to have a sweet tooth or a coffee addiction to appreciate the mouth-watering photos on the Maison Marou Facebook page. Traveling can be tiring and stressful. You deserve to treat yourself!
Location: 167 Calmette Street, Binhthai ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Hours: 9:00am – 10:00pm (Monday to Sunday)
Helpful articles and blog posts on Ho Chi Minh City Vietnamese restaurants:
We only recommend writers and blogs that we read regularly and believe will deliver substantial value to our readers. The following are our top picks for articles we think are worth reading for more information on the Ho Chi Minh City Vietnamese restaurants from our list.
- “The Old Compass Café in Saigon” – by Rusty Compass
- “Cơm Niêu Sài Gòn – Ho Chi Minh City” – by Gas Tron O My
- “Maison Marou – Review” – by Vietcetera
- “3T Quan Nuong Vietnamese Barbecue (Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh)” – by FoodieFC
- Marou Chocolate by Daryl and Mindi Hirsch
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About the Author
Stephanie Mayo is from Manila, Philippines. When she isn’t writing awesome articles for Mad Monkey Hostels, she enjoys traveling, photography, and movies.