Top 8 must-try foods in Saigon

The best dishes of Ho Chi Minh City are considered nutritious, savory and hearty delicacies that can be enjoyed at any time of the day. Some of the hallmarks of Vietnamese cuisine include rice, noodles, seafood, pork, and beef, as well as various fresh herbs and spices, all of which offer a rich and unique flavor. Unique explanation. Although the city is evolving into a cosmopolitan landscape with extensive shopping malls, high-end restaurants and luxury hotels, you can still find plenty of roadside eateries, lively street markets and street food carts to satisfy the need to enjoy authentic Vietnamese delicacies.

Dining in Ho Chi Minh is not limited to pho and Vietnamese coffee, but you can also enjoy fresh seafood, noodles, rice, spring rolls and meats prepared in a variety of ways. Some of the top must-try dishes in Ho Chi Minh City are not only hearty and filling, but also cost less than 40,000 VND per dish. Here's what to eat in Ho Chi Minh for a real taste of the city and Vietnam.

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1. Banh Mi

Available almost everywhere in Ho Chi Minh City, banh mi is a quintessential Vietnamese dish that you should never miss out on. This baguette sandwich is priced between VND 10,000 and VND 15,000, with pickled vegetables, pate, butter, soy sauce, cilantro, chilies, and hot peppers. Quick and tasty, you can also choose from a variety of meat fillings for your banh mi, including heo quay (roasted pork belly), cha ca (fried fish with turmeric and dill), cha lua (boiled sausages), xiu mai (meatballs), thit ga (boiled chicken), trung op la (fried egg), thit nuong (grilled pork loin), and xa xiu (Chinese barbecued pork).

2. Pho Noodles

Pho is noodle soup served in a rich soup with beef, bean sprouts, lemon, and greens like basil, mint, cilantro, and onion, along with chili sauce for extra spice. A basic bowl includes ear (sliced ​​beef), burlap (beef meatballs) or encrusted (beef rib), but diners can also choose from more exotic ingredients such as liver (beef tendon), salad (beef tendon), and salad. thinly sliced ​​pork stomach), and ve don (cartilage ribs). This budget breakfast option costs between VND 20,000 and VND 30,000 at any local restaurant or street market in Ho Chi Minh City.

3. Oc (Vietnamese Shellfish)

Best enjoyed with cold beers, oc refers to the plate of Vietnamese scallops prepared in a variety of methods. Due to its popularity, there are many roadside stalls and popular restaurants with live snails, blood cockles, clams, shrimp, and crabs displayed in front of them. After choosing the ones that suit your taste, you can enjoy them grilled, sautéed, curried or steamed. With prices from 20,000 VND onwards, we highly recommend you to enjoy grilled mussels with onion and peanut fat (chem copy nuong), fried blood cockles with tamarind (so huyet ran tamarind), steamed clams with lemongrass.

4. Com Tam (Broken Rice)

Com tam is actually ‘broken rice’ in Vietnamese, usually served with fried egg, diced green onions, and a variety of meats such as suon nuong (barbecued pork chop), bi (shredded pork skin), and cha trung (steamed pork and egg patty). Diners can also enjoy this dish with a side of pickled vegetables, cucumber slices, and nuoc cham Vietnamese dipping sauce. Com tam can be enjoyed any time of the day as it is relatively inexpensive, with street markets and roadside food stalls selling for about VND 20,000 per bowl.

5. Goi Cuon (Vietnamese Spring Rolls)

Goi Cuon or spring rolls include vermicelli, pork rolls, shrimp, basil and lettuce wrapped tightly in translucent rice paper (rice paper). Due to its very subtle flavor, you can dip it in a mixture of freshly ground chili peppers and a hoisin-based dipping sauce topped with crushed peanuts. This traditional appetizer is a healthier alternative to spring rolls, which are deep-fried egg rolls made with a combination of chickpea noodles, minced pork, and various spices. 

6. Banh Xeo (Crispy Pancake)

Banh xeo is a savoury pancake that’s made of rice flour, coconut milk, and turmeric, stuffed with ingredients such as pork slices, shrimps, sliced onions, bean sprouts, and button mushrooms. Unlike the ones you find in Nha Trang and Hanoi, ban xeo in Ho Chi Minh City is much smaller in portion as it is usually eaten as a snack or appetiser. The best way to enjoy ban xeo is by wrapping it in mustard leaf, lettuce leaves or rice wrappers, together with mint leaves, basil, herbs, and sweet fermented peanut butter sauce. Lastly, dip it in a sweet and sour fish sauce.

7. Hu Tieu (Rice Noodles)

Hu tieu is a subtler version of pho noodles, featuring a clear pork-based broth, flat rice noodles, and an assortment of pork toppings. There are also countless variations available in Ho Chi Minh City, though the most popular one is hu tieu xuong, which is topped with pork ribs. Alternatively, you can enjoy hu tieu with shrimp, squid, or fish if you’re not a fan of pork. A bowl of hu tieu is usually priced at VND 18,000 at street stalls and VND 25,000 onwards if you’re dining at more established restaurants.

8. Bun Thit Nuong (Vermicelli Noodles with Grilled Pork)

A hearty dish in Ho Chi Minh City, bun thit nuong features vermicelli rice noodles with freshly chopped lettuce, sliced cucumber, bean sprouts, pickled daikon and carrot, basil, chopped peanuts, and mint, topped with grilled yet tender pork shoulder. Diners can also opt for bun thit nuong cha gio, which comes with crunchy slices of cha gio (deep-fried eggrolls). As with most Vietnamese dishes, you also get a side of nuoc cham sauce to mix into the bun thit nuong for a flavourful ensemble.

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