Guide to the Best of the Food in Saigon: 15 Local Foods Not to Miss

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Ho Chi Minh City, or as the locals refer to it as Saigon, is a vibrant and dazzling metropolis. The food in Saigon includes flavors from all over Vietnam as well as regional specialties. 

Great food can be found all over the city. From little storefronts, street food stalls, restaurants and markets, the spicy, sweet and sour flavors of the city await.

This guide to the food in Saigon is focused on the local specialties from southern Vietnam.

Vietnam’s French colonial past is seen in banh mi, a popular street food. Rice and seafood from the Mekong Delta feature prominently in Saigon food. 

And, there are unmissable specialties like cơm tấm or broken rice, bún thịt nướng or grilled pork rice noodles, and more.

Savor your travels to Saigon and dive into the local culture using this food guide as your road map.  

City Hall Ho Chi Minh City food in Saigon by Authentic Food Quest
The impressive City Hall in Ho Chi Minh City
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Table of Contents

Best Food in Saigon From The Mekong Delta

The Mekong Delta in the south of Vietnam is a vast maze of rivers and channels and rich soil. It is the country’s agricultural heartland producing millions of tonnes of rice, fruits and farm products. 

The area provides more than half of Vietnam’s rice and fish and is called the “rice bowl of Vietnam.”

Located about 200 kilometers (124 miles) from Vietnam’s capital, the luscious culinary influence from the Mekong Delta permeates the food in Saigon.

Following are amazing local dishes from the Mekong Delta that you will find in Saigon. While not exhaustive, these foods will introduce you to the tastes and flavors of Vietnam’s food paradise.

AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: Explore the Mekong Delta on a day trip from Ho Chi Minh City. Onboard a fast scenic speedboat, cruise down the Mekong Delta as you visit the orchards and rice fields. Savor specialties from the Mekong Delta at lunchtime while eating with a local family.  In an environmentally conscious way, see the city with a knowledgeable local guide with this Mekong Delta tour.

1- Hu Tieu or Hủ Tiếu – Rice Noodle Dish With Chinese, Cambodia and Vietnamese Influences

Hu Tieu Thick Noodle Soup Food in Saigon by AuthenticFoodQuest
Hu Tieu a scrumptious thick noodle soup

A culinary symbol of the Mekong Delta, hu tieu is a traditional dish specific to southern Vietnam. 

Hanoi in the north of Vietnam has pho, while Saigoneers in the south has crowned hủ tiếu their noodle soup.

Hu Tieu is originally from neighboring Cambodia and it the Vietnamese take on kuy teav, the Cambodian national dish.

It is said that in the 1960s, Cambodian immigrants to southern Vietnam brought the dish with them as they settled around Saigon and the Mekong Delta.

There are many different styles and ways of eating hu tieu. Generally, it consists of thin, chewy rice noodles in a bowl of pork broth sweetened with cane sugar. 

The toppings often include minced pork, pieces of pork, shrimp, quail eggs, and greens.

Dry Hu Tieu Food in Saigon by Authentic Food Quest
The dry version of Hu Tieu

You can have hu tieu either “wet” or hủ tiếu nuoc, or “dry” known as hủ tiếu kho. The wet version is a soup version, whereas the dry version allows you to have the broth and ingredients served separately.

In keeping with its heritage you can also have hủ tiếu nam vang, which translates to Hu Tieu Phnom Penh for the Cambodian version.

Due to its popularity, you’ll find a variety of ingredients to choose from. You can find everything from beef to crab and squid. Though the minced pork stays as it is the soul of the dish.

Hu Tieu was one of our favorite foods in Saigon. We both preferred the wet version with the intermingling of flavors. Flavorful and hearty we enjoyed a bowl of Hu Tieu several times, each time mixing the noodles and ingredients.

This Ho Chi Minh city food, with Cambodia origins, Chinese influences, and Vietnamese flair is to be savored while in Saigon.

AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: One of the best ways to try local food in Saigon is on a food tour. See our detailed guide to the Best 7 Food Tours in Saigon For Authentic Vietnamese Culinary Experiences

Best Saigon Restaurants for Hủ Tiếu

Hu Tieu Mi Thap Cam one of the Best Restaurants in Saigon by AuthenticFoodQuest
Hu Tieu Mi Thap Cam serves hu tieu all day long

The popular food in saigon can be found in various eateries across the city. One of our favorite restaurants is Hu Tieu Thap Cam in District 1.

This shop house specializes in serving only hu tieu. You want to select your type of noodles, the meat and finally choose if you want the dry or soup version.

We found the soup particularly tasty with generous portions of lean pork, and the authentic experience hard to beat.

Another place where we enjoyed our Hu Tieu was at Cho Tan Dinh, a food market to visit in District 1. Looking for a lunch meal, on the outside, we found Hu Tieu Hoanh Thanh, a street food cart popular with locals.

We decided to give it a try and were pleasantly surprised by the flavor of the hủ tiếu soup.

Hủ Tiếu Mì Thập Cẩm

Address: 62 Trương Định, Phường Bến Thành, District 1, Hồ Chí Minh

Hours: Open everyday closes at 9:00 pm

Price: 55,000 VND (approx. $2.38)

Hu Tieu Hoanh Thanh – Mi Chu Cau at Cho Tan Dinh Market

Address: 48 Mã Lộ, Tân Định, District 1, Ho Chi Minh – Sạp 41

Hours: Open every day 6:00 am – 2:00 pm

Price: 50,000 VND (approx. $2.17)

2 – Banh Xeo or Bánh Xèo – Vietnamese Sizzling Crepes Saigon Style

Banh Xeo Food in Saigon by Authentic Food Quest
Extra large Saigon-style banh xeo

Banh Xeo is a common Vietnamese street food. It is a thin savory crepe made from rice flour. The name comes from the sound of the rice flour sizzling on a hot pan. Xeo means “sizzling” and banh xeo “sizzling crepes”. 

These savory crepes are typically topped with pork, shrimp, bean sprouts, and spring onions. In Vietnamese fashion, Banh Xeo is served with loads of fresh herbs and vegetables. 

We first had Banh Xeo in Danang in central Vietnam where it is said to originate from.

In Saigon and Southern Vietnam, banh xeo are much larger in size compared to the ones in central Vietnam which are relatively small.

While you can easily eat two or three banh xeo in Danang, one banh xeo in Saigon is enough to satisfy one’s appetite.

The Banh Xeo Saigon style are cooked with influences from the Mekong Delta. They are prepared in a  large hot skillet, flipped, until they are brown and ready to be served.

All the ingredients including pork, shrimp, chicken, and mung beans are stuffed inside the crepe.  It is folded and fried and served along with a large plate of crispy fresh vegetables and herbs.

To best enjoy the banh xeo, you want to chunk it in small pieces that you wrap in the green leaves. 

With this handmade roll in hand, dip it into the bowl of fish sauce prepared on the table and enjoy!

READ MORE: Top 17 Authentic Food in Danang You Want To Have

Best Restaurant in Saigon to Eat Banh Xeo

Banh Xeo 46A Anthony Bourdain Ate Here for Food in Saigon by Authentic Food Quest
Making banh xeo at Banh Xeo 46A in Saigon

While there are many street food vendors in Saigon making Banh Xeo, one particular stands out. 

Made famous by celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, Banh Xeo 46A serves banh xeo Saigon-style continuously throughout the day.

It is quite impressive to watch the dexterity of the cooks preparing and cooking these giant sizzling crepes.

In front of them are charcoal stoves on top of which, a large pan used to cook the banh xeo are sitting on.

Prepared with prawns and pork, served with fresh herbs, we savored each bite of our Banh Xeo. 

For a more local experience, check Banh Xeo Nga, near Cho Ban Co market. This small Saigon street food vendor is serving delicious Banh Xeo. 

Banh xeo is certainly a food in Saigon you don’t want to miss.

Banh Xeo 46A

Address: 46 Đinh Công Tráng, Tan Dinh, District 1, Ho Chi Minh

Hours: Open every day from 9:00 am – 9:00 pm

Price: 90,000 VND per crepe (approx.$3.90)

Banh Xeo Nga

Address: 251 Nguyễn Thiện Thuật, Phường 1, District 3, Hồ Chí Minh

Hours: Open everyday 1:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Price: 70,0000 VND per crepe (approx. $3.04)

Watch Our Short Video About Banh Xeo

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3 – Banh Khot or Bánh Khọt – Vietnamese Crispy Shrimp Cake

Banh Khot Vietnamese Crispy Shrimp Cake best food in Saigon by Authentic Food Quest
Beautiful platter of tasty bahn khot

Banh Khot are crispy Vietnamese mini-pancakes fried in individual molds with savory flavorings. 

This popular food in Ho Chi Minh City is made with coconut milk, rice flour, and topped with seafood or pork. 

Each serving consists of several mini pancakes accompanied by a plateful of fresh herbs and a delightful fish and chili sauce.

Bahn Khot pancakes are extremely popular and you’ll find several eateries selling these tasty little bites.

The first time we had them, we were not quite sure how to begin. We ordered a mixed platter and were surprised by all the accompaniments. 

The large mixed platter had eight banh khot pancakes topped with shrimp, pork and fish. Served alongside was a hearty plate of Vietnamese vegetables and herbs and a dipping sauce.

Our server disappeared quickly before we could ask how to eat the meal. Seeing our confusion, a kind lady sitting next to us showed us how to eat them. 

Like the locals, we learned to take one mini pancake and with chopsticks, wrap it inside a lettuce leaf and then dip it into the sauce. 

Our particular sauce was a mixture of fish sauce and chili with papaya strips. The combination of all the ingredients was absolutely delicious. A simple snack packed with flavor makes banh khot one of our favorite Saigon foods.

Banh Khot is said to have originated in Vũng Tàu or Vung Tau, a port city in Southern Vietnam.

Best Saigon Restaurants for Banh Kho

Banh Khot Co Ba Vung Tau restaurant in Saigon by AuthenticFoodQuest
Comfortable and airy Banh Khot Co Ba Vung Tau restaurant in Saigon

Banh Khot Co Ba Vung Tau is a saigon restaurant dedicated to the specialty of Vung Tau. Located by the Turtle Lake, with a bright and airy entrance, this restaurant is easy to spot.

We found it a tad touristy. The pricing is higher than typical shop houses and the customer is automatically charged a 5% service fee.  

Nonetheless, the place is clean and the small pancakes flavorful. They also serve Banh Xeo, another food in Saigon not to miss. It is a welcome option for a nice dinner in the center of Saigon. 

Banh Khot the Vietnamese Crispy Shrimp Cakes a Saigon Street Food by AuthenticFoodQuest
Banh Khot street food style

For a more local and Saigon street food experience, near Cho Ban Co market, you find Banh Xeo Nga. This Saigon street food vendor serves tasty Banh Khot as well as Banh Xeo, the vietnamese sizzling crepe.

Bánh Khọt Cô Ba Vũng Tàu

Address: 40B Trần Cao Vân, Phường 6, District 3, Hồ Chí Minh,

Hours: Open every day from 7:00 am – 10:00 pm

Price: 95,000 VND for a mixed plate (approx. $4.12)

Banh Xeo Nga

Address: 251 Nguyễn Thiện Thuật, Phường 1, District 3, Hồ Chí Minh

Hours: Open every day 1:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Price: 40,0000 VND for a plate of shrimp cakes (approx. $1.73)

4- Banh Tam Bi – Tapioca Noodles With Coconut Sauce

Banh Tam Bi Tapioca Noodles specialty Food in Saigon by AuthenticFoodQuest
Delightful and tasty tapioca noodles with garnishes

Made with rice from Can Tho province and coconuts from Ben Tre province from the Mekong Delta, we couldn’t miss this dish. 

Banh tam bi is a tasty mix of chewy rice and tapioca noodles with pork.

Aromatic fresh herbs, crunchy vegetables, thinly shredded pork are mixed together with a creamy coconut sauce creating joy in a bowl.

In addition to the banh tam bi, we added meat balls and grilled pork sausages or nem nuong and xiu mai for a fuller experience.

This food in Saigon is full of surprising flavors. It is a mix of sweet and spicy flavors with chilies from the main meal contrasted with the sweet coconut sauce.

Unlike a typical noodle dish in a broth, this is a delightful plate of pork and herbs sitting on warm noodles with sauces served separately. 

Full of exceptional flavors and with a coconut sauce that is not overpowering, be sure not to miss this Mekong Delta food.

Best Restaurant To Eat Banh Tam Bi

Sadec Quan one of the best Restaurants in Saigon by AuthenticFoodQuest
Office workers having an early lunch at Sadec Quan

Located in District 3, Sadec Quan specializes in food from southern Vietnam and the Mekong. 

A nice and clean restaurant in Saigon, it is popular with locals and tourists alike. You will find it lively and busy especially at lunch time with office workers. 

Enjoy an excellent banh tam bi with melting tapioca noodles and a tasty coconut sauce. You can also find delicious servings of hu tieu, another food in Saigon not to miss.

Sadec Quan

Address: 154 Nguyễn Đình Chiểu, Phường 6, District 3, Ho Chi Minh

Hours: Open every day 7:00 am – 9:00 pm

Price: 52,000 VND (approx. $2.26)

5- Bun Mam or Bún Mắm – Fermented Fish Noodle Soup

Bum Mam Fermented Fish Noodle a specialty Food in Saigon by AuthenticFoodQuest
A filling bowl of bun mam with sides

Bun Mam is a rice vermicelli soup dish from the Mekong Delta region in southern Vietnam. It is a popular food in Saigon and a robust soup packed with contrasting flavors and textures.

The key to the soup is mắm, which is a dark-colored broth made with fermented fish or shrimp paste.

A bowl of bun mam consists of rice vermicelli noodles, shrimp, squid, pork, and eggplants mingling in a fermented fish flavored broth.

What makes bun mam palatable is the all important fresh herbs and greens, many from the Mekong Delta.

Surprisingly, we really enjoyed bun mam. Initially, I was concerned that this Vietnamese food would be too fishy tasting for my liking, but I was proven wrong.  

While the flavors are bold and confrontational the magic is in combining everything together. 

The chunky pieces of pork and seafood combined with the fresh herbs and vegetables really complement each other.

A distinctive and popular food in Saigon, challenge your taste buds to bun mam at least once on your visit to Ho Chi Minh City. 

Best Restaurant in Saigon To Eat Bun Mam

Bun Mam Phan Boi Chau Restaurant in Saigon for Bun mam by AuthenticFoodQuest
Conveniently located next to Ben Thanh Market

Bun Mam Phan Boi Chau is a restaurant located by Ben Thanh Market in district one. While shopping for running pants near the market, we stopped at this adjacent restaurant to taste this unique Saigon food.

We had tried the fermented fish sauce while eating Da Nang specialties and never quite acquired a taste for it. 

We were skeptical at first but Bun Mam Phan Boi Chau surprised us with tasty and filling Bun mam bowls. Our Bun Mam came with chilis, a dipping sauce and a generous plate of greens and a healthy serving of seafood.

This restaurant in Saigon is perfect for a lunch break while shopping at Ben Thanh Market.

Bún Mắm Phan Bội Châu

Address: 22 Đường Phan Bội Châu, Phường Bến Thành, District 1, Hồ Chí Minh

Hours: Open every day 8:00 am – 8:00 pm

Price: 75,000 VND (approx. $3.27)

6 – Ca Loc Kho To or Cá Kho Tộ – Fish in Clay Pot

Ca Kho To a Fish in Clay Pot a specialty Food in Saigon by AuthenticFoodQuest
Melting in the mouth ca loc kho to

Ca Loc Kho To is a traditional dish made in a claypot. The abundance of fish from the Mekong Delta makes this a popular food in Saigon.

Typically, snakehead fish (cá lóc) or catfish (cá mèo) are used.The fish is braised in an earthenware clay pot dish and caramelized.  

Ca Kho To is a staple in Vietnam and usually eaten at home as the main meal of the day.

Our first experience with ca loc kho to was for dinner on our first trip to Saigon on a chilly evening.  Not knowing what to expect, we were in for a delightful surprise.

The fish is typically marinated in a mixture of fish sauce, garlic, sugar and onions and then seared in a hot claypot. Sugar, coconut water and chili pepper caramelize over the fish giving it sweet and spicy hints.

Our Ca loc kho to was served with broken rice, though it is typically accompanied by Vietnamese white rice. 

This was one of our most enjoyable Vietnamese fish dishes in Saigon. The fatty fish without a lot of bones was flavorful and easy to eat. 

This Saigon food is not to be missed in Vietnam’s capital.

Best Restaurants in Saigon to Eat Ca Kho To

Com Ga Thuong Hai Restaurant in Saigon by AuthenticFoodQuest
Com Ga Thuong Hai, a bustling local restaurant

We particularly enjoyed this staple food in Saigon and had it at various venues. 

On our first night in Saigon, we ate at Com Tam Moc and enjoyed braised dishes. The braised fish was very tasty with a nice bite to it though we found the portion a bit small.

We had it again at Com So 7 and found it very flavorful with the fish melting in the mouth. 

Ca Kho To Fish cooked in Clay Pot a specialty Food in Saigon by AuthenticFoodQuest
Flavorful ca kho to at Com Ga Thuong Hai

For a more upscale experience, Claire tried Ca Kho To at Com Ga Thuong Hai with special crispy rice. The combination fish and crispy rice was delicious, the venue clean and packed with locals though a bit intimidating.

Com Tam Moc

Address: 85 Lý Tự Trọng, Phường Bến Thành, District 1, Hồ Chí Minh

Hours: Open every day 6:00 am – 9:30 pm

Price: 60,000 VND (approx. $2.6) 

Quan Com So 7

Address: 13 Nguyễn Văn Tráng, Phường Phạm Ngũ Lão, District 1, Hồ Chí Minh

Hours: Open every day 10:00 am – 8:00 pm

Price: 50,000 VND for a small bowl ($2.17)

Com Ga Thuong Hai

Address: 21 Võ Văn Tần, Phường 6, District 3, Hồ Chí Minh

Hours: Open every day 10:00 am – 10:30 pmPrice: 90,000VND (approx. $3.9)

7 – Canh Chua Ca or Canh Chua Cá  – Vietnamese Sweet and Sour Fish Soup

Canh Chua Ca a Vietnamese Sweet and Sour Fish Soup from Saigon by AuthenticFoodQuest
Tasty and colorful bowl of fish soup

Canh chua ca, a southern Vietnamese sour fish soup is a beloved food in Saigon. 

This emblematic soup packs a punch in flavors. In it are pineapple slices, vegetables like bean sprouts, tomatoes, okra, herbs and more. 

The broth is a salty and tart fish sauce with tamarind, cumin and lemon flavors. 

A colorful dish, it is appealing to the eyes. The mouthwatering tastes are an interesting combination of sweet and sour flavors.

We enjoyed this fish soup and found it surprisingly filling. 

For fish flavors from the Mekong Delta, do indulge in this unique soup rich in flavors.

Best Restaurants in Saigon For Canh Chua Ca

Com So 7 one of the Best Restaurants in Saigon for fish by AuthenticFoodQuest
Find several fish specialties at Com So 7

We had our only sour fish soup at Quan Com So 7 in District 1. This simple restaurant offers various fish dishes including the Canh Cua Ca. 

You can have it in two sizes either a large bowl (lon) or small bowl (nho). The soup came with small bites of the fatty fish packed with vegetables and pineapple. 

This delicious and surprising soup is a must have in Saigon.

Quan Com So 7

Address: 13 Nguyễn Văn Tráng, Phường Phạm Ngũ Lão, District 1, Hồ Chí Minh

Hours: Open everyday 10:00 am – 8:00 pm

Price: 50,000 VND for a small bowl ($2.17)

Best Iconic Saigon Food Not To Miss

Like in the rest of Vietnam, Saigon has regional food specialties that have their humble beginnings in the nation’s capital.

These iconic Saigon foods are popular and are found throughout the city, from street food stalls to local eateries. 

Start with these unique Ho Chi Minh City foods as you explore the depth and diversity of flavors and textures.

8- Com Tam or Cơm Tấm – Broken Rice

Com Tam a specialty Food in Saigon by AuthenticFoodQuest
Homemade plate of com tam from our cooking class

A dish with humble beginnings, com tam or cơm tấm is arguably the most iconic Saigon street food.

The name com tam means broken rice in reference to damaged grains during harvesting transportation or milling. 

Farmers and poor families would collect the broken rice and use it for their own meals as it was cheaper than long grain rice. Today, broken rice is often preferred for its texture and com tam can be found all over Vietnam.

The broken rice or cơm tấm is the foundation of the dish. To the rice pork chop, shredded pork, fried egg or chicken can be added. The most popular is pork, either barbecued or grilled.

Along with the rice and pork, the meal is accompanied by sliced cucumbers and carrots and a dipping fish sauce.

While cơm tấm  is a basic and simple dish, its richness comes from the preparation and tenderness of the meat. Most com tam eateries have a small charcoal grill on which to perfectly cook the pork.

The caramelized pork chop eaten together with the tender rice and the accompanying sauce, is absolutely divine. It is full of flavor and so simple and it is no wonder that it is one of the most popular Saigon street foods.

While exploring the local food in Saigon, we took a cooking class and learned how to make cơm tấm with grilled pork chops. Read more about the experience and a meal bursting with flavors.

On your travels to Vietnam’s capital, com tam is one food in Saigon you absolutely cannot miss.

AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: If you are looking to learn to make any of the popular Saigon foods, see our detailed guide to the Best Cooking Classes in Saigon

Best Saigon Restaurants for Com Tam

Hung Com Tam restaurant in Saigon by AuthenticFoodQuest
Choose your sides with com tam (photocredit: Hung Com Tam Facebook page)

We had the opportunity to eat cơm tấm at different venues across Vietnam and always enjoyed this buffet style feast.

In Saigon, one of our favorite venues was Hung Com Tam. Located near our Airbnb, we noticed this eatery bustling in the morning. 

One day on our way back from our run, we made a point to have breakfast there. The pork chop was firm and perfectly cooked, the broken rice tender and flavorful. 

Served with a tasty fish sauce and some crunchy vegetables, we could not but lick our plates.

This spot is popular with locals and runs out of options fast so get there early for the best from their buffet.

For another address, check Com Tam Ba Ghien, a popular and well written about cơm tấm spot.

Hùng Cơm Tấm

Address: 196 Võ Văn Tần, Phường 5, District 3, Hồ Chí Minh

Hours: Open every day 6:00 am – 12:30 pm

Price: 35,000 VND (approx. $1.52)

Cơm Tấm Ba Ghiền

Address: 84 Đặng Văn Ngữ, Phường 10, Phú Nhuận, Hồ Chí Minh

Hours: Open everyday 6:00 am – 10:00 pm

Price: 80,000 VND (approx. $3.5)

9- Banh Canh Cua or Bánh Canh Cua – Crab Noodle Soup

Crab noodle soup food in Saigon by Authentic Food Quest
Crab noodle soup, a flavorful Saigon food

If you love Vietnamese noodle dishes, you cannot miss banh canh cua in Saigon. 

Unlike other noodle dishes, banh canh cua is made with thick Vietnamese noodles, with a slightly chewy texture. These are special noodles made with tapioca flour or a mixture of tapioca and rice flour.

The dish is topped with crab meat, thin slices of pork, green onions, fresh herbs in a rich orange colored broth. 

This traditional noodle soup is unique to Saigon and must be experienced.  While we enjoyed this Southern Vietnam delicacy, we were not huge fans of the thick noodles. 

The crab and vegetables were fresh and extremely tasty and you’ll definitely need a spoon for this soup. 

To go with your noodle soup, you can order fried dough sticks known as banh quay, for dipping into your soup.

The dough sticks help balance the briny flavors while adding even more texture.

This hefty Vietnamese noodle soup is an experience. Be sure to seek out this unique Saigon food on your travels. 

Best Saigon Restaurants for Banh Canh Cua

Banh Canh Cua Crab noodle soup food in Saigon by Authentic Food Quest
The wonderful unassuming eatery for amazing crab noodle soup

Quan Che Minh Khai is one of our favorite restaurants in Saigon for Crab Noodle Soup. This address was given to us by an expat living in Saigon that we met at a food festival.

This tiny shop house specializes in serving Banh Canh Cua. Located in a small alley in district one, it is next to one of our favorite Pho restaurants. The broth was fragrant and the soup had some generous chunks of crabs. 

Another address we didn’t have the chance to try is Bánh Canh Cua 87. This famous shop house is very popular with locals and can get busy in the evening.

Banh Canh Cua Crab Noodle Soup Mekong Delta food by Authentic food Quest
Generous chunks of crab in banh canh cua noodle soup

Quán Chè Minh Khai

Address: 18a/16 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, District 1, Ho Chi Minh

Hours: Open every day 7:00 am – 8:00 pm

Price: 30,000 VND (approx. $1.3)

Bánh Canh Cua 87

Address: 87 Đ. Trần Khắc Chân, Tân Định, District 1, Hồ Chí Minh

Hours: Open everyday 11:00 am – 8:00 pm

Price: 40,000 VND (approx. $1.73)

Pro Tip: Don’t forget to order a serving of banh quay to dip in the soup for an additional 3,000 VND ($0.13)

10- Bo La Lot or Bò Lá Lốt – Grilled Beef in Wild Betel Leaves

Bo la lot grilled beef and betel leaves for food in Saigon by Authentic Food Quest
Delicious grilled beef in wild betel leaves topped with crunchy peanuts

While many associate Vietnamese food with soup noodles, snacks like bo la lot also deserve widespread attention.

Bo la lot are seasoned minced beef wrapped in betel leaves. Bò, in Vietnamese, is beef, which is more expensive meat and considered a luxury. And, wild betel leaves or lá lốt are the two primary ingredients.

Wild betel leaves, also known as piper lolot leaves grow abundantly in Vietnam. And, in this Vietnamese dish, the beef is wrapped into wild betel leaves, rolled up, and then grilled over hot charcoal.

Bo la lot grilling beef in betel leaves for food in Saigon by Authentic Food Quest
Grilling bo la lot over charcoal

We have many favorite Vietnamese dishes and bo la lot also makes the list. The minced beef is well seasoned with garlic, lemongrass and various spices. And the slightly charred flavors from the grilling only enhance the flavors.

 Along with the grilled beef, the dish is accompanied by Vietnamese rice vermicelli noodles, rice paper, and plenty of fresh Vietamese herbs and raw vegetables. An accompanying fermented fish sauce for dipping is also provided.

Bo la lot, or its full name,  thịt bò nướng lá lốt, is a typical Southern Vietnamese dish. It is one of the best Saigon foods to eat as a meal or as a hearty snack.

Best Saigon Restaurants for Bo La Lot

Rosemary and Claire eating bo la lot for food in Saigon by Authentic Food Quest
Rosemary and Claire savoring bo la lot, a favorite Saigon food

One of the most popular restaurants for Bo La Lot is called Co Lien Bo La Lot. This tiny restaurant with the food cart in front, is located at the corner of two main streets.

The plate of Bo La Lot is served with fresh herbs to roll in the grilled beef with the betel leaves. With that comes the dipping sauce The beef is excellent and the dipping sauce perfect to enhance its flavors. 

There is no question, this is a must eat and favorite Saigon food.

Cô Liên Bò Lá Lốt

Address: 321 Võ Văn Tần, Phường 5, District 3,Ho Chi Minh

Hours: Open everyday 10:00 am – 9:30 pm 

Price: 75,000 VND ($3.27) for 5 pieces.

Pro Tip: To go along with the Bo La Lot, get a serving of nem nuong. There are delicious smoky-sweet and savory pork skewers to add a nice bite to your meal. It cost 75,000 VND (approx. $3.27) for 6 pieces.

Map of The Best of The Local Food in Saigon

Traditional Vietnamese Foods With A Saigon Twist

The following dishes are emblematic Vietnamese foods and can be found all over the country.

We highlight them here as they are prepared in a unique way in Southern Vietnam. The food in Saigon has unique styles and flavors distinct from northern or central Vietnam.

Each of these Vietnamese dishes is prepared with a unique Saigon twist and is worth discovering or rediscovering again.

11- Bun Thit Nuong Cha or Bún Thịt Nướng – Vietnamese Noodles with Grilled Pork

Bun thit nuong food in Saigon by Authentic Food Quest
A medley of flavors and textures in a bowl of Bun Thit Nuong

Bun thit nuong is one of our beloved Vietnamese foods.  It is a simple dish eaten across the country, with regional differences.

Bun thit nuong literally means grilled meat on noodles. This is a bowl of rice vermicelli noodles , topped with delicious grilled pork, fresh herbs and vegetables. 

Along with the noodle bowl which does not have broth, is a tasty nuoc cham sweet and sour sauce. Crushed peanuts sprinkled on top complete the meal.

When spring rolls are added, the dish becomes bun thit nuong cha gio which is heavenly.

While popular around the country, Bun thit nuong is similar to Bun Cha, one of Hanoi’s most famous dishes.

In Ho Chi Minh City and the southern region, the noodles and meat are tossed in a bowl together and drizzled with sauce. 

Whereas in Hanoi and the northern region, the meat is separated from the noodles and everything is eaten individually. 

Similar to a deconstructed version of this popular food in Saigon. There are also some differences in the flavors of the dipping sauce.

Bun thit nuong is not only a popular Vietnamese street food, it is a celebrated dish you cannot miss.

READ MORE: The Top 10 Authentic Vietnamese Food You Must Eat in Hanoi

Best Restaurants in Saigon To Eat Bun Thit Nuong Cha

Bun Thit Nuong 88 Restaurant in Saigon by Authentic Food quest
Bun Thit Nuong 88 near Le Van Tam Park

There are a few places to grab a tasty Bun Thit Nuong in Saigon. We personally tried Bun Thit Nuong 88 near Le Van Tam park in District 1.

This small family restaurant is clean and prompt to serve us. Our bowl of Bun Thit Nuong was tasty and filling. A great stop for a classic Saigon food. 

We’ve added a few more popular local addresses we found in our research.

Bun Thit Nuong 88

Address: 88 Mạc Đĩnh Chi, Đa Kao, District 1, Ho Chi Minh

Hours: Open Monday to Saturday 6:30 am – 9:30 pm

Price: 35,000 VND (approx. $1.52)

Bún Thịt Nướng Nguyễn Trung Trực 

Address: 1 Đường Nguyễn Trung Trực, Phường Bến Thành, District 1, Ho Chi Minh

Hours: Open every day 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Price: 40,000 VND (approx. $1.74)

Bun Thit Nuong Chi Tuyen

Address: 175C Cô Giang, Phường Cô Giang, District 1, Ho Chi Minh

Hours: Open every day 7:00 am – 8:00 pm

Price: 50,000 VND (approx. $2.18)

12- Pho or Phở – Vietnamese Noodle Soup

Pho Vietnamese noodle soup for food in Saigon by Authentic Food Quest
Rich and aromatic bowls of pho with typical accompaniments

Pho is arguably the most famous soup in Vietnam. This flavorful soup is most typically eaten for breakfast. Nonetheless, you will find pho served all day long across Vietnam. 

Phở, consists of a soup made of a clear meat broth with flat rice noodles, herbs including green onions, ginger, and coriander, and thinly cut slices of meat.

Traditionally, the meat in Pho is beef served with a clear beef broth though you can also have it with chicken.

While Pho is originally a soup from northern Vietnam, it has been adopted in South Vietnam and made with unique flavors.

The phở from Saigon tends to have more spice with a slightly sweeter profile. 

Pho can be served with different cuts of meat to choose from. Pho Tai is the most traditional pho, which are slices of rare beef steak.  

Pho Nam is a pho served with beef flank. And finally, Pho Gau which has slices of brisket. 

Best Restaurant in Saigon for Pho

Pho Thanh Binh Best Place to Eat Pho in Saigon by Authentic Food Quest
One of our preferred local joints for pho in Saigon

There are many places to have phở in Saigon. To taste Pho, Saigon style, we recommend  Phở Thanh Binh in District 1. 

We passed by this tiny local restaurant a few times and always noticed it busy with locals.

Served with loads of fresh herbs, the soup comes with a small red sauce to mix with chili and add to the broth. The beef is excellent, the soup full of flavors heightened with the touch of spice.

We also liked Phở Phu Vuong, not far from Ben Tanh Market, a place recommended by our Airbnb host

There you can find an extensive list of phở served with all sorts of meat cuts. Pho with tripe, tendon or blood are for the adventurous eaters.

Phở Thanh Bình

Address: 18B Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, Đa Kao, District 1, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Hours: Open everyday from 6:00 am to 10:00 am and 4:00 pm to 12:00 am

Price: 50,000 VND (approx. $2.16) for one regular bowl of Pho Soup

Phở Phu Vuong

Address: 120 Nguyễn Thái Bình, District 1, Ho Chi Minh

Hours: Open everyday from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm

Prices: 50,000 VND (approx. $2.16) for one regular bowl of Pho Soup

Phở Hoa Pasteur

Address: 260A Pasteur, Phường 8, District 3, Hồ Chí Minh

Hours: Open everyday from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm

Prices:  75,000 VND (approx. $3.24) for one regular bowl of Pho Soup

Good to Know: Be aware this place is popular with groups or busloads of tourists in search of the ultimate Saigon food. Don’t be surprised to find it crowded. For more local experiences start with the addresses above.

READ MORE: The Best Pho You Want to Slurp on in Vietnam

13- Banh Mi or Bánh Mì – Vietnamese Sandwich

Bánh Mi Huynh Hoa Best Banh Mi in Saigon for the quest of the best Banh Mi in Vietnam the famous VietnameseSandwich Authentic Food Quest
Filling bánh mì with slices of cucumber, peppers, onion and cilantro at Huynh Hoa

Banh mi is the quintessential Vietnamese sandwich you cannot leave Vietnam without eating again and again.

Fortunately, Banh mi, one of the most popular street foods in Vietnam, is easy to get.

Banh Mi is a short, airy and crunchy French-style baguette, made with a combination of meats, vegetables, herbs and sauces.

It is typically stuffed with pork, pâté, cured ham, a mix of Vietnamese herbs and vegetables, such as coriander, cucumber, carrot, radish and more.

The Banh mi stuffing varies depending where you are in Vietnam.  As compared to our favorite ones in Hoi An, the banh mi ones in Saigon are different. 

We found bánh mì sandwiches in Saigon to be hearty and typically stuffed with various cuts of pâté.

Best Places To Eat Bánh Mì in Saigon

Inside Huynh Hoa waiting for the best banh mi sandwiches in Vietnam_VietnameseSandwich_AuthenticFoodQuest
Crowded and everyone waiting for their bánh mì sandwiches at Huynh Hoa

In Saigon, many street food carts offer bánh mì on the go. Armed with recommendations from locals and our research on the net, we settled on a few places worth sharing.

Our first banh mi was at Banh Mi Huynh Hoa. A popular place with locals, people line up to get their banh mi as soon as the restaurant opens.

This bánh mì is a mouthful, with tasty pate and a delightful sauce.

For an interesting variation of the banh mi, try banh mi op la at Bánh Mì Hoa Ma. This place has been made famous by Anthony Bourdain during his visit in Saigon.

Banh Mi Op La food in Saigon by Authentic Food Quest
The famous Banh Mi Op La popularized by Anthony Bourdain

Banh mi op la is like a deconstructed banh mi prepared with two fried eggs and served with pork, onions, and vegetables. 

A side of fat from the pate is provided to spread on the bánh mì at your leisure. The cuts of meat are lean and tasty.  

Banh Mi Hoa Ma is a solid option for tasty food and to get a classic Saigon street food scene. 

Though we found it quite touristy. Lacking the charm of authentic bánh mì Vietnamese street carts like the ones enjoyed on the streets of DaNang.

Banh Mi Huynh Hoa

Address: 26 Le Thi Rieng, District 1, Ho Chi Minh

Hours: Open every day from 2:30 pm to 11:00 pm

Price: About 33,000 VND per sandwich (approximately $1.44 USD)

Bánh Mì Hoa Ma for Banh Mi Op La

Address: 53 Cao Thắng, Phường 3, Quận 3, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Hours: Open every day from 6:00 am to 11:00 am

Price: 52,000 VND (approx. $2.25)

READ MORE: Banh Mi – The Best Vietnamese Sandwich To Fall in Love With

Best Desserts in Saigon

Vietnamese desserts offer unique flavors, textures and colors that will stimulate all your senses.

And Saigon is a gold mine for sweets and desserts. There are many bakeries to tempt you with sweets, cakes and more.

Desserts are also part of the Saigon street food scene, with carts dedicated to sweets and juices.

The French heritage left a definite imprint on the bakeries in Southern Vietnam and particularly in Saigon.

We invite you to discover traditional Vietnamese desserts and let your senses and curiosity do the rest.

14- Banh Dau Xanh Nuong or Bánh Đậu Xanh Nướng – Baked Mung Bean Cakes

banh dau xanh nuong baked mung bean cakes best desserts in Saigon by Authentic Food Quest
Baked mung bean cakes, one of the best desserts in Saigon

Banh or Bánh in Vietnamese means cake or bread. In addition to banh mi the savory sandwiches, there are many bánh or sweet cakes in Vietnam.

Saigon offers many bakeries to experience the sweet cakes the Vietnamese cuisine has to offer.

Banh Dau Xanh Nuong is one of our favorite cakes we ate consistently while in Ho Chi Minh City.

It is made from mung beans and shaved coconut then baked to make a dense and sweet golden cake.

We particularly like the light sweet flavors from this cake and its slightly chewy texture. It is the perfect Saigon food to enjoy with tea or Vietnamese coffee.

Best Bakery in Saigon to Eat Banh Dau Xanh Nuong

ABC Bakert dau xanh nuong mung bean cakes best desserts in Saigon by Authentic Food Quest
The display at ABC Bakery in Saigon

We routinely stopped at ABC bakery while strolling the streets of Saigon. ABC bakery is one of the best original Saigon bakeries..

Originally started in District 11 as a small store, ABC bakery is now a bakery chain with more than 30 outlets in Saigon.

The products are baked everyday and you can find fresh pastries, cakes and other sweet food in Saigon.

ABC Bakery & Cafe

Address: 225-223, Pham Ngu Lao District 1, Ho Chi Minh. You can find additional branches of ABC bakery by searching for the closest bakery near you on Google Maps.

Hours: Open every day from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm

Price: 12,000 VND one piece of cake (approx. $0.52USD)

15 – Che or Chè – Vietnamese Sweet Soups

Che choi Best desserts in Saigon Authentic Food Quest
Che Chuoi, banana flavored Vietnamese dessert

Che is for Vietnamese desserts what pho and banh mi are to Vietnamese food. If there is one dessert you’ll want to taste in Vietnam, it is a che.

Che or Chè in Vietnamese is the word for desserts. It is often referred to as Vietnamese sweet soup.

Che soups are generally made of various ingredients mixed together and served either in tall glasses or in a bowl.

There are many types of Che in Vietnam. Although there are some regional variations, some can be found across Vietnam. 

Che Ba Mau, the three colors desserts is arguably the most popular Che on the streets of Vietnam. 

It is made of a layer of yellow mung bean paste, red beans, and green pandan jelly, topped with coconut milk. You can follow our Che Ba Mau recipe to make it at home.

One of our favorite Che is Che Chuoi. We first had it in Hoi An and since we are always on the lookout for a good che chuoi.

This chè is made with sliced banana pieces mixed with tapioca pearls then dipped into a hot coconut milk soup. It is topped with peanuts and sesame seeds. 

The bananas used for this dessert are from a variety found in Southeast Asia. These small bananas in size give a unique sweet and fragrant taste to this incredible dessert.

Best Saigon Street Food Vendor for Che

Che Saigon street food vendor by Authentic Food Quest
Well known che street food vendor in Saigon

Walking is our main mode of transportation while exploring the local food in Saigon. We are constantly scouting the streets to find hidden gems or go to our next local Saigon food experience.

One night, we discovered this che street food vendor not far from our Airbnb where locals kept coming to. Seating with large pots around him, the vendor kept swirling to serve its warm soups to locals passing by. We decided to give a try the next day.

When we got our soups and sat down to eat, we made room for a lady on her scooter coming to get her che. It turns out that she was a Vietnamese-American and always made sure to stop at this vendor when she visited Saigon. 

She told us that he was really famous for his outstanding desserts. We knew we were on for a wonderful treat.  

We tried two different kinds of chè, a che chuoi and a taro soup. Both were served warm, not overly sweet, and definitely heartwarming.

Saigon Street Food Che Vendor

Address: 241 Vo Van Tan Street, District 3, located right on the street, directly in front of Thien Ban Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh

Hours: Open everyday in the afternoons, check after 5:00 pm

Price: 10,000 VND for a bowl of chè

READ MORE: 14 Most Popular Vietnamese Desserts To Indulge In

Map of The Best of The Vietnamese Foods Saigon Style

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In Summary

You don’t have to go looking for great food in Saigon. It’s everywhere and street food is at the heart of this bustling city.

Ho Chi Minh City is a food paradise and it could take years to eat your way through the diversity of local culinary delights.

This guide to the food in Saigon will start you out in the right direction. Explore the alleys, stop at the street food vendors and enjoy incredible Vietnamese food like the locals. 

Savor the Adventure!

Do you love Vietnamese food? In the comments below, please let us know your favorite food in Saigon.

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19 Comments on “Guide to the Best of the Food in Saigon: 15 Local Foods Not to Miss”

  1. Wow! As a Vietnamese, I appreciate that the fact you put bánh tằm bì, bánh khọt, bún mắm on the list????. Most people rarely heard about these dishes, so…Thanks! For putting these amazing food on the list.

    • You are most welcome. And, thank you for kind words about our comprehensive food guide for Saigon. Indeed, Vietnamese food is incredible and we hope more can experience the rarely talked about foods. Thanks so much 🙂

  2. Reading your post makes me miss traveling so much. I hope we can travel back normally again and yes, I am looking forward to visiting Vietnam too. I will take note of this delicious and must try foods.

  3. I am not particularly familiar with Vietnamese food, but I love trying foods from around the world. These dishes all look so delicious! I would love to visit Saigon.


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