Saigon restaurants and food in Ho Chi Minh City

Cheap and extremely delicious

Cheap and extremely delicious

Saigon is not only the economic heart of Vietnam, it is also the country’s culinary capital, and first-time visitors can expect plenty of treats when they head out to eat. And if you can’t decide what type of cuisine you’re in the mood for, there are several hotels that offer buffets that include a wide variety of Vietnamese and Western fare.

Deciding where to eat in Saigon is about as straightforward as finding somewhere to stay. The best and priciest places are located around Dong Khoi, while the cheap and cheerful restaurants of the budget district around De Tham will fill you up without burning a hole in your wallet. So prepare for a gastronomic exploration of Ho Chi Minh City.

Saigon restaurants – Vietnamese dishes

Blue Ginger: This large restaurant is divided into several cozy dining areas, all decorated with striking artwork. In the evenings, traditional musicians serenade diners who choose from a lengthy menu. If it seems a bit complicated just go for one of the set menus, that range from 12-27 you won’t be disappointed. Open: 08:00-22:00 (daily); 37 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, tel: +84 8 3829 8676, fax: +84 8 3821 1783. $$$

Bun Ta: The Vietnamese love their noodles, though generally they are eaten at streetside stalls. Here the noodle is raised to star prominence in swish surroundings, and the menu presents them in soups and stir fries. Open: 07:00-23:00 (daily); 136 Nam Ky Khoi  Nghia, tel: +84 8 3822 9913, +84 8 3822 9914. $$

Dong Du: Located just off Dong Khoi, this fine restaurant shares and entrance (and management) with Le Mekong, but draws rave reviews for its authentic Vietnamese cuisine and impeccable service. Open: 11:00-14:00, 17:00-22:00 (daily); 57 Dong Du Street, tel: +84 8 3829 5045, fax: +84 8 3829 5047. $$$

Lemongrass: This tiny, intimate restaurant is ideal for a romantic occasion, particularly since tables are candle-lit and there are traditional musicians performing most evenings. Bookings are recommended. Open: 11:00-14:00, 17:00-22:00 (daily); 4 Nguyen Thiep, tel: +84 8 3822 0496, +84 8 3822 4005. $$ 

Ngoc Suong: This hugely-successful chain has established a reputation for providing excellent seafood, and now has outlets in most big Vietnamese cities, including four in Saigon. This one, just a short walk north of the budget district, is perhaps the most atmospheric. Open: 10:00-22:00 (daily); 106 Suong Nguyet Anh, tel: +84 8 3925 6939-40, website: www.ngocsuong.com.vn. $$$

Ngon: Here’s a great way to explore Vietnamese cuisine. Delicious regional specialities are served in a colonial building full of character. Great taste and cheap prices make it hugely popular, so be prepared to wait for a table (No reservations accepted). Open: 06:30-23:00 (daily); 138 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, tel: +84 8 3825 7179. $

Pho 2000: It would be a crime to leave Saigon without tasting the Vietnamese national dish of pho – noodle soup, and this busy spot right by Ben Thanh market is an ideal spot to taste it. Open: 06:00-02:00 (daily); 1-3 Phan Chu Trinh, tel: +84 8 3822 2788. $ 

Temple Club: You can’t beat this place for a classy atmosphere and top-class Vietnamese cuisine. It’s a bit pricey but well worth it (try the cha ca – fried fish), and there’s a relaxing lounge for pre- or post-dinner drinks.  Open: 11:30 to midnight (daily); 29-31 Ton That Thiep, tel: +84 8 3829 9244. $$$

Vietnam House: Set in a lovely, shuttered colonial building along Dong Khoi, this stylish place features traditional musicians, waitresses in traditional dress and some excellent set menus. Open: 10:00-22:00 (daily); 93-95 Dong Khoi, tel: +84 8 3829 1623, fax: +84 8 3829 8076, website: www.vietnamhousesaigon.com. $$

Saigon restaurants – international dishes

Al Fresco: this is the place to go when you really have an appetite; portions of pizza, steak and BBQ ribs are huge and tasty, so the place is often full. Open: 09:00-22:30 (daily); 27 Dong Du, tel: +84 8 3823 8424, email: info-hcm@alfrescosgroup.comwebsite: www.alfrescosgroup.com. $$

Au Manoir de Khai: For a really special occasion, this is the ideal setting – a gorgeous colonial mansion with lavish décor and superb French cuisine; try the grilled lamb tenderloin with Dijon mustard sauce. Open: 09:00-22:00 (daily); 251 Dien Bien Phu, tel: +84 8 3930 3394,  fax: +84 8 3933 0583, email: aumanoir@khaisilkcorp.com, website: www.khaisilkcorp.com. $$$$

Camargue: Set in a modern villa but with the aura of a bygone era, this smart place serves some of the best French cuisine in town. Reservations are recommended. Open: 18:00-23:00 (daily); 191 Hai Ba Trung, tel: +84 8 3824 3148. $$$ 

La Fourchette: One of the city’s longest-established French restaurants, this small place has an intimate atmosphere and serves imported steaks at reasonable prices. Open: 11:30-14:30, 18:30-22:00 (daily); 11 Ngo Duc Khe, tel: +84 8 3829 8143, email: lafourchette@lafourchette.com.vn, website: www.lafourchette.com.vn. $$ 

Price guide (US$)
$ – dishes under $3; quart of beer $1; whiskey shot $1.50; cocktails $2
$$ – dishes $3-10; quart of beer $1.50; whiskey shot $2; cocktails $2.50
$$$ – dishes $10-20; quart of beer $2; whiskey shot $2.50; cocktails $3
$$$$ – dishes over $20 ; quart of beer $3; whiskey shot $4; cocktails $5

Orientica Seafood Restaurant & Bar: Located on the second floor of the Equatorial Hotel, this super stylish restaurant serves appealing seafood, steaks and hotpots. Open: lunch: 11:30-14:30, dinner: 18:30-22:30 (daily); 242 Tran Binh Trong, tel: +84 8 3839 7777, fax: +84 8 3839 0011, email: info@hcm.equatorial.com, website: www.equatorial.com. $$$ 

Pacharan: This slick downtown venue serves all kinds of Spanish treats – tapas and paella, prawns and chorizo, as well as some decent Spanish wines.  Open: 10:00 to late, (kitchen last order at 23:00); 97 Hai Ba Trung, tel: +84 8 3825 68024, email: info@pacharan.com.vn. $$ 

Sawasdee: If you fancy something spicier than Vietnamese cuisine, check out this smart place serving authentic Thai dishes just near the budget district. Open: 10:00-23:00; 102-104 Le Lai, tel: +84 8 3925 7777, fax: +84 8 3925 2771. $$ 

Tandoor: If you get a craving for Indian food in Saigon, here’s the place to satisfy it. From biriyani to vindaloo, they cover the range, and offer some tempting set menus too. Open: 10:00-23:00 (daily); 74/6 Hai Ba Trung, tel: +84 8 3930 4839, fax: +84 8 3930 4125, email: tandoor@hcm.vnn.vn, website: www.tandoorvietnam.com. $$ 

Warda: Transport yourself from the streets of Saigon to the exotic middle east with a taste of kefta kebabs, then settle back to enjoy a puff on a shisha pipe. Open: 11:00 to midnight (daily); 71/7 Mac Thi Buoi, tel: +84 8 3823 3822, mobile: +84 98 969 0090, email: info@wardavn.com. $$$ 

Besides a fantastic range of Vietnamese cuisine served at anything from simple street stalls to elegant colonial mansions, Saigon offers a great choice of global cuisine, from Italian and French to Chinese and Thai. So whatever mood you’re in there’s bound to be Saigon restaurants to fit the bill.

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