Tell me, my fellow readers, what is it that keeps you alive until today? What is irreplaceable and is the utmost pleasure in life? F – O – O – D. Food. One word which contains one of the best delicacies of this world.
Here in Ho Chi Minh City, so many, too many kinds of food are available. From national to international appetites, nothing is out of the reach of Saigonese. Along with adapting, importing and appreciating other regions and nations’ cuisine, we also possess strong desires to share our personalities to the world, through the amazing dishes which has been cooked and developed through generations.
Most of our food is served on the street. That is the way we do things. Simple and convenient. We do not care about fancy places, for what we crave for is not luxuries, but the feeling of utter satisfaction in taste.
I always find myself drowned in the ocean of choices that HCMC has to offer. Sometimes more is less. There are so many kinds of food to choose from, whenever I decide to eat out while living in this city. With that bears in mind, I would like to give you a list of several street foods of HCMC, and let’s figure out if you can make the decision faster than I do every day.
* ‘Bánh mì’ (bread with everything)
‘Bánh’ stands for all types of cakes or anything made of rice or wheat in Vietnam.
‘Bánh mì’ is what we Saigonese can eat at any time of the day. There are bread and everything inside it. We have cucumbers, all kinds of herbs (vegetables) and meat of course. Ham, grilled fork, ‘chả cá’,… Anything you could ever imagine of, we can put it in ‘bánh mì’. The ingredients of ‘bánh mì’ are usually not put into the bread before the orders from the customers are received, for everyone has a different opinion on how they want their ‘bánh mì’ to be served.
For more information about bánh mì, we have another article for you:
**Bánh mì Sáu Minh
Address: 170 Võ Văn Tần, phường 5, quận 3 (170 Võ Văn Tần Street, Ward 5, District 3)
Hours: 8:00 – 22:00
Price: ~30.000VND (~1.32$)
This price is three times higher than the average price of ‘bánh mì’, because there are usually lots of ingredients inside and the bread is fully stuffed.
This famous ‘bánh mì’ stall on Võ Văn Tần Street is often crowded with customers. The place was recommended to me by my father, and our family usually buy ‘bánh mì’ there. Besides, they also sell dumplings and sticky rice.
**Bánh mì Huỳnh Hoa
Address: 26 Lê Thị Riêng, Phường Phạm Ngũ Lão, Quận 1 (26 Lê Thị Riêng Street, Ward Phạm Ngũ Lão, District 1)
Hours: 14:30 – 23:00
Price: ~33.000VND (~1.45$)
This place is where you can get the biggest ‘bánh mì’ in HCMC. This is, of course, to make sure you can’t eat anything else for the rest of the day.
* ‘Cơm tấm’ (broken rice)
Now, this is a truly special dish of Saigonese. We created this dish, and it is one of the best dishes that we are most proud of. Interestingly, the history of this dish goes way back into the past.
The main ingredient, broken rice, is fragments of rice grains, broken in the field, during drying, during transport, or by milling. It used to be considered as the cheaper grade of rice for only the poor had to consume the “incomplete” rice. However, now it is considered a special part of Saigon cuisine, a dish that is loved by many people.
Nowadays, ‘cơm tấm’ is served with grilled pork (either ribs or shredded) plus the Vietnamese dish ‘bì’ (thinly shredded pork mixed with cooked and thinly shredded pork skin) over broken rice. Various green pickled vegetables are added along with a prawn paste cake, steamed egg, grilled prawns and egg meatloaf (the customers decide what to be put on their dish, really). Typically, restaurants will serve this popular combination with a small bowl of fish sauce, as well as a small bowl of soup broth with garlic chives (to cleanse the throat). Sometimes, ‘cơm tấm’ is served with omelette.
**Cơm tấm Trần Quý Cáp
Address: 260 Võ Văn Tần, Phường 5, Quận 3 (260 Võ Văn Tần Street, Ward 5, District 3)
Hours: 10:00 – 21:00
Price: 20.000VND – 50.000VND (~0.88$ – 2.2$)
This place is my family’s all-time favourite Cơm Tấm Restaurant. There are so many factors joint together to create the delicious dish of ‘cơm tấm’, and this place is most famous for its broken rice. However, one of the restaurant’s drawbacks is that there is only one kind of soup served here which is bitter gourd soup.
**Cơm tấm Nguyễn Văn Cừ
Address: 74 Nguyễn Văn Cừ, Phường Nguyễn Cư Trinh, Quận 1 (74 Nguyễn Văn Cừ Street, Nguyễn Cư Trinh Ward, District 1)
Hours: 6:00 – 20:00
Price: 50.000 – 100.000 (2.2$ – 4.40$)
This ‘cơm tấm’ restaurant owns the market of pork-chopped in ‘cơm tấm’. Their pork is big and delicious, with as much amount as you could ever imagine having for a day. And yet you still crave for more on the next. This restaurant is most famous for its pork in ‘cơm tấm’, because who doesn’t like BBQ? Therefore, the average cost of each serving in this place is more expensive than many others.
* Hủ tiếu/ Hủ tíu (Kuy teav)
Kuy teav is a noodle soup consisting of rice noodles with pork stocks and toppings. Kuy teav is generally assumed to be a dish with Chinese origin. It can be found at marketplace (phsar) stalls, roadside vendors, and restaurants across the country, and is highly regarded for its clear and soothing broth and a dazzling array of herbs, aromatics and other garnishes and condiments.
**Hủ tiếu Nhân Quán
- 488 Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, Phường 2, Quận 3 (488 Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai Street, Ward 2, District 3)
- 27Q Âu Cơ, Phường 14, Quận 11 (27Q Âu Cơ Street, Ward 14, District 11)
- 122 Trần Quang Khải, Phường Tân Định, Quận 1 (122 Trần Quang Khải Street, Ward Tân Định, District 1)
- 239 Âu Dương Lân, xã Bình Hưng, huyện Bình Chánh (239 Âu Dương Lân Street, Ward Bình Hưng, District Bình Chánh)
- 72 Nguyễn Thượng Hiền, Phường 5, Quận 3 (72 Nguyễn Thượng Hiền Street, Ward 5, District 3)
- 448 An Dương Vương, Phường 10, Quận 6 (448 An Dương Vương, Ward 10, District 6)
- A68 Nguyễn Trãi, Phường Nguyễn Cư Trinh, Quận 1 (A68 Nguyễn Trãi Street, Ward Nguyễn Cư Trinh, District 1)
Hours: 6:00 – 22:00
Price: 50.000VND – 66.000VND (~2.2$ – 2.91$)
This is the most famous system of ‘hủ tiếu’ restaurants of HCMC, as you can see above this brand has many locations all over the city.
**Quán Cả Cần
Address: 213 – 215 Nguyễn Tri Phương, Phường 9, Quận 5 (213 – 215 Nguyễn Tri Phương Street, Ward 9, District 5)
Hours: 6:00 – 22:00
Price: about 44.000VND (~2$)
This restaurant is not only famous for its ‘hủ tiếu’ but also all kinds of Chinese dumplings. We Saigonese usually go there for family breakfast.
‘Phở’ is a Vietnamese noodle soup consisting of broth, rice noodles called bánh phở, a few herbs, and meat, primarily made with either beef (phở bò) or chicken (phở gà.) ‘Phở’ is a popular street food in Vietnam and the specialty of a number of restaurant chains around the world. ‘Phở’ is originated in the early 20th century in Northern Vietnam, and was popularized throughout the rest of the world by refugees after the Vietnam War. The Hanoi and Saigon styles of ‘Phở’ differ from each other by noodle width, the sweetness of broth, and choice of herbs.
**Phở Thanh Cảnh
Address: 101 Nguyễn Cư Trinh, Phường Nguyễn Cư Trinh, Quận 1 (55 Nguyễn Cư Trinh Street, Ward Nguyễn Cư Trinh, District 1)
Hours: 6:00 – 22:00
Price: 40.000VND – 60.000VND (~1.46$ – 2.64$)
This is my personal favourite ‘phở’ restaurant because I used to study English at ILA in the building next to the restaurant. Every Sunday morning, I, my sister and my father would enjoy a hot bowl of ‘phở’ before we go to English class. Despite that, I love the place because of the memories there and of course also the unforgettable taste of ‘phở’ in this old restaurant.
Address: 574 Kha Vạn Cân, phường Linh Đông, quận Thủ Đức (574 Kha Vạn Cân Street, Ward Linh Đông, District Thủ Đức)
* Ốc (Shellfish)
The eating of shellfish is unique to Vietnam. We eat every creature with a shell that lives in water bodies. There are lots of ways invented to make them, such as grill, stir-fried, boiled, raw, etc.
- 229 – 231 Hoàng Diệu, Phường 9, Quận 4 (229 – 231 Hoàng Diệu Street, Ward 9, District 4)
- 99 Vĩnh Khánh, phường 8, quận 4 (99 Vĩnh Khánh Street, Ward 8, District 1)
Hours: 11:00 – 23:00
Price: 70.000VND – 150.000VND (~3.08$ – 6.61$)
This restaurant will bring you the truest taste of the ocean. The seafood is usually fresh and amazing, but what attracts customers here is actually the way the cook makes all the dishes. Incredibly strong favour. Everything is unforgettable.
Address: 212B/D28 Nguyễn Trãi, Phường Nguyễn Cư Trinh, Quận 1 (212B/D28 Nguyễn Trãi Street, Ward Nguyễn Cư Trinh, District 1)
Price: 60.000NVD – 110.000VND (~2.64$ – 5$)
* Bánh xèo (Sizzling cake)
Bánh xèo, literally “sizzling cake“, named for the loud sizzling sound it makes when the rice batter is poured into the hot skillet is a Vietnamese savory fried pancake made of rice flour, water, turmeric powder, stuffed with slivers of fatty pork, shrimp, diced green onion, and bean sprouts.
**Bánh xèo Ăn là Ghiền
Address: 74 Sương Nguyệt Ánh, phường Bến Thành, Quận 1 (74 Sương Nguyệt Ánh Street, Ward Bến Thành, District 1)
Hours: 10:00 – 21:30
Price: 25.000VND – 110.000VND (~1.1$ – 4.84$)
This restaurant is our family’s favourite ‘bánh xèo’ dinner. We love the crispy of the cake here, and the stuffing is no different.
**Bánh xèo Mười Xiềm
Address: 204 Nguyễn Trãi, Phường Phạm Ngũ Lão, Quận 1
Hours: 10:00 – 22:00
Price: 50.000VND – 110.000VND (~$2.2 – 4.84$)
* Bánh ướt (Steamed rice crêpes)
‘Bánh ướt’ is one of my favorite choices of breakfast, thanks to its simplicity and undeniable deliciousness. Bánh ướt, literally “wet cakes”, is a Vietnamese thin pancake wrapper consisting of rice noodle sheets, served with dipping sauce, fried shallots, and slides of chả lụa (Vietnamese pork sausage).
I usually eat ‘bánh ướt’ in the marketplaces.
* Bánh tráng
Bánh tráng or bánh đa nem, a northern Vietnamese term, (literally, coated cake and nem skins, respectively), sometimes called rice paper wrappers, rice crepes, rice wafers or nem wrappers, are edible Vietnamese wrappers used in Vietnamese cuisine, primarily in finger foods and appetizers such as Vietnamese nem dishes. The term rice paper wrappers can sometimes be a misnomer, as some ‘bánh tráng‘ wrappers are made from rice flour supplemented with tapioca flour or sometimes replaced completely with tapioca starch. The roasted version is bánh tráng nướng.
All over the street.
There are many varieties of bánh tráng, about which we will discuss in another article for you.
If you have any questions about this article or are in need for assistance about travelling in Vietnam or just anything at all, please do not hesitate to contact us, and we are sure to be thrilled to help.