Now that I've been out of Vietnam for several months, it's hit me hard how much I miss the food around Saigon. Everything was so cheap and convenient -- soup stalls on every street, being able to order delivery from literally anywhere and have it delivered hot by a motorbike guy (seriously, download the app Vietnammm. You never have to leave your house/hostel/Airbnb again 😂).
The culinary culture there is like nothing else and I feel compelled to share some of my favs for anyone looking for some good eats around Ho Chi Minh:
^ TOP: A bowl of the soup of the day from the infamous Lunch Lady (the one Anthony Bourdain made famous on his show No Reservations). She makes a different soup each day of the week. Not sure what this one was called -- I couldn't find the menu in the sea of people, and the staff didn't speak English -- but it was good!
BOTTOM LEFT: Yamagoya Ramen -- A sort-of hidden gem. This place was across from the alley I lived in on Nguyen Trai (D1), but you won't see it advertised on TripAdvisor. It's mainly locals, but the waitstaff speak decent English and you can get a bowl of authentic ramen for less than $4. I was a regular at this place; it was my go-to spot was I was too lazy to cook.
BOTTOM RIGHT: A flat white and some fresh desserts (they're different everyday) from SaiGon Coffee Roastery. This place has hands-down the best Western coffee in HCMC, and it's also really cool because it's hidden in a corner on the 2nd level of this warehouse-like building -- you'd never find it just wandering down the street.
^ LEFT: Fancy, delicious ramen from Ramen Bar Suzuki. If you're looking for a legit ramen place with all sorts of varieties, this is your spot (look at that pile of garlic). You pick your broth base, noodle texture, and toppings by marking a sheet of sheet of paper. George and I took most of our visitors to this spot and everyone loved it. It's a bit on the pricier side -- meaning like $7 USD a bowl -- but worth it.
RIGHT: A bowl of veggie soup from Sadec Quan in District 3. Fresh, healthy, vegetarian. If I remember correctly, it cost less than $2 a bowl. Perfect for when on a budget and wanting something filling and noodly and cheap.
^ Ok, these three dishes are from a cooking class called Saigon Cooking Class by Hoa Tuc. I cannot recommend this enough -- the class was fun and informative and the dishes are easy to replicate at home (given you have an Asian market in your city). Definitely don't eat beforehand -- you will have more than enough food! They have a a vegetarian option, which is an added bonus.
^ Here is Miss Julia posing with her first hot pot in Vietnam at Nhà Hàng Dìn Ký. This is a super Vietnamese place full of locals (you'll rarely see tourists), so you know it's good. I found this place because I lived nearby and was in search of an authentic hot pot one day. Fantastic hot pot and very affordable. The staff does not speak much English, but there is a translation on the menu. You'll figure it out. 😉
^ So after living in Asia for awhile, you inevitably start to crave Western food again. These two places were mine and George's go-to spots when we needed a fix (which was usually every weekend).
TOP: Une Journee a Paris -- a French bakery for when you need a big-ass European breakfast with all the things. Everything you see in this photo is included in the l'International breakfast set -- eggs of your choice, cheese, baguette, croissant, coffee of your choice, and juice -- and all for less than $7. The best part? You can get it delivered to your door via the Vietnammm app for when you're lazy af on a Saturday and don't want to leave the house.
BOTTOM: Eggs Florentine -- our favorite breakfast that we probably ordered 10+ times from The Elbow Room. Poached eggs smothered in hollandaise on a bed of spinach, on top of a thick piece of toast, served with a side of potato hash. JUST LOOK AT IT. You can also get this delivered because Vietnam. 👍
I've got a million other spots I could recommend (phở, Indian, sushi, etc.), but I've already spent ages on this entry and I need to wrap it up. If you don't trust TripAdvisor and need more Saigon food guidance, comment or send me an email and I'll be happy to put my Saigon food knowledge to use!