Top 10 Foods to eat in Vietnam
If you read my post here, I mentioned eating Vietnamese food as the number 1 thing to do when you are in Saigon. To expound that post further, I’m writing this one to list my top 10 fave foods in Vietnam! I know I haven’t tried all of their dishes yet, but rest assured that my list is basic enough for you to try them out when you are in this amazing country.
So without further ado, here are my top 10 foods to eat when you are in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam! Please enjoy!
10. Bánh bao – It’s just like our Siopao in the Philippines but much better! Like Siopao, it also originated from baozi of China. The first time I ate one, I was blown away. It’s very different from Siopao. What I like in Bánh bao is its mix of ingredients which it makes more tastier and the big boiled egg that is in it. You can find it anywhere along the streets of Saigon.
9. Gỏi cuốn or Vietnamese Spring Roll – If you are looking for something healthy, filling and really delicious, then fresh Vietnamese Spring Roll is right for you! I love it with shrimp but you can also have it with sweet grilled pork or if you are ultra health conscious then get the all veggies version of these yummy rolls. And of course, don’t forget to dip it in whatever sauce you like but peanut and hoisin sauce is the best!
8. Deep fried Elephant Fish – When I went to Vietnam for work last 2011, we had one of these numerous team buildings and we went to a nearby floating restaurant in District 9 for lunch. One of the main dishes we had is the deep fried Elephant fish. I told myself… nah, we have similar dish like that in the Philippines (Fried Tilapia) so I think it’ll just tastes the same. But lo and behold, I almost ate the whole damn fish! And my officemates are looking at me like they are saying “This man almost ate the whole damn thing and didn’t care enough to leave some for us”. I guess what I said here is enough for you to try this dish anywhere in Vietnam.
7. Bún thịt nướng – If you’re kinda fed up with hot Pho noodles then you might want to try this. It is a cold rice vermicelli noodle dish topped with grilled pork, roasted nuts, bean sprouts, herbs and drenched with fish sauce. It is an amazing dish perfect for a quick lunch. We had this in one of those small budget restaurants in Saigon.
6. Any Vietnamese Squid/Octopus dishes – I’m sure you’ve tried one of those fantastic squid dishes when you were in Vietnam and you felt so satisfied after. I bet you have coz that’s what I felt personally. I especially love it when it’s either grilled or stir-fried. Vietnamese also put lots of herbs, spices and veggies to their squid dish to make it more colorful and delightful. I remember that I had one of those stir-fried salt and pepper squid dish in a restaurant near Tan Son Nhat Airport and I was blown away with the taste and one order is fairly cheap too. Too bad I didn’t take note of the restaurant’s name. I also love the Grilled octopus with Sriracha hot sauce as dipping sauce! Very good!
To those who haven’t gone to Vietnam, I’m sure you have local Vietnamese restaurants in your country that offers squid dishes as this is one of the most popular Vietnamese dishes.
5. Bò Bít Tết or Vietnamese Beef Steak – Mmmmm… Ahhh… This is one of those Vietnamese dish that when you eat for the first time, you go say Mmmmmm…. Ahhhhhh! It is that good. This dish is typically eaten by Vietnamese people during breakfast but I don’t mind eating it anytime of the day because it is that good! There is the juiciness of the Beef (protein), the good mix of veggies (carbs, vitamins and minerals) and to top it off, a whole egg (another protein) to complete the masterpiece. It is also usually served with a Baguette so you can use it for cleaning up your plate because every spec of this dish must go through your mouth down to your stomach. 🙂
4. Pho – It is Vietnam’s national dish and has lots of variants to it. You can have it with either beef, pork, chicken, seafood, meatballs or all veggies. It can be had anywhere in Vietnam from small sidewalk stalls to big luxurious hotels. So when you are in Vietnam, don’t miss to eat this amazing dish.
3. Cơm tấm Sài Gòn – or broken rice. The grilled pork variant is the best. But you can also have the barbecued chicken. The meat is glazed with sugar, spices and shredded onion leeks on the top. On the side is pickled radish, carrots and some cucumber and tomato. It is commonly served with Nước chấm (dipping sauce) on the side which it makes it more delectable.
Cơm tấm is a common meal in Saigon and It is best had during lunch or dinner. Just walk along the streets and you can easily find kiosks that sells it because of the barbecue smoke.
2. Ốc or Snails – If you didn’t try this in Vietnam, then you’ve never been to Vietnam at all. You’ll miss a lot of those scrumptious, very delicious snails. The Vietnamese people cook these snails very good and with lots of variety that makes you want to try them all.
There are a number of Ốc eateries along the sidewalks of Saigon and to determine the best, just check out if there are lots of locals eating, specially on dinner time. I first had these Ốcs in 2011 when my Vietnamese friend brought me in one of those small Ốc stalls in District 9 where we had orders of these snails and crab claws and of course, numerous Tiger beers. Then in 2014, my wife and I had our dinner in Õc Ðào Restaurant in 132 Nguyển Thái Học, District 1 (Yes, a little research and I found the right address) and just like in 2011, it was the best. Even if you don’t like the sound of eating snails, I’m 100% sure that you’ll love it and you will thank me for recommending it to you. I especially like their sweet and spicy flavor sauteed in awesome spices and butter with fried pork. Yum! You can also have them grill the snails and they were equally awesome too. Don’t forget to order a baguette and a can or two of Tiger or Heineken beer. It will be a great night to remember.
1. Bánh mì – This just got to be my top 1 must eat in Saigon because whenever I eat it, it always brings back memories. It is the first Vietnamese food I’ve eaten in my entire life. It was in 2011, my first trip out of the country, and I have no clue whatsoever regarding the country, its food and culture. Of course, just like any other human being, I got hungry. I went outside for food, and a banh mi stall was the first thing I see. I immediately bought one for 10,000 VND (which I thought that time was expensive and thought the vendor was ripping me off) to fill that empty stomach. The first time I ate it, I was just so happy. All the different flavors just came into one, delicious taste.
Then it became my favorite breakfast in Vietnam. Everytime on my way to work, I never miss buying one (or two) from a kind and sweet middle aged lady near my flat. Nothing beats a sandwich with all of the stuff you’d want to start the day. Eggs, cucumber, meat, carrot, coriander, spices, etc. Then pour some soy sauce and chili sauce… oohh. How I wish I am in Vietnam right now.
So, there you have it! My top 10 must eats in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam. Don’t miss out on these delicious foods whenever you visit Vietnam. I’m 100% sure you’ll love all of it.
Vietnamese Iced Coffee – This is an honorable mention. I didn’t include it because it is a drink, but it’s going to the list no matter what so I just included it as a bonus.
I’m no coffee drinker. I’m more of a tea, water and beer drinker. But Vietnamese coffee is just out of this world. I especially love the Iced coffee with milk and it’s awesome. Again, they are sold everywhere in Vietnam and make sure to bring some back at home coz your family and friends would love it too. Trung Nguyen is a good brand.
Looking for a nice place to stay in Ho Chi Minh? Try Bich Duyen Hotel!
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