Vietnam is a foodie’s paradise. With an endless array of inexpensive and delicious dishes, from mind blowing street food to a unique blend french and asian fusion, Vietnam has it all. Perhaps the best place in all of Vietnam to indulge on your foodie desires is Ho Chi Minh City. Between the coffee, bánh mì, and pho, you won’t leave HCMC hungry, that’s for sure.
Vietnamese coffee is very strong and very sweet. If you’re looking for a trusted chain coffee shop, someplace with air-conditioning and free wifi, then head into Trung Nguyen Coffee. Despite being a chain, their coffee is authentic Vietnamese and excellent. Ordering a traditional Vietnamese coffee will result in two things being delivered to you: Your glass which will contain milk or not depending on what you ordered, and the coffee filter. Once the coffee in done filtering, take the cup at the bottom of the apparatus and pour the coffee into your glass. If you ordered it iced, the glass will have ice in it as well.
If you want a slightly more authentic experience, you can find a local coffee shop, such as Albero Cafe, on almost any road. They’re usually a little cheaper as well.
Bánh mì is a warm flaky baguette filled with pâté, veggies, cheese and lightly grilled. Along with pho, it is one of the foods that people most commonly associate with Vietnamese cuisine. You could also order Bánh mì thit (meat) which usually means steamed or roasted pork belly, grilled chicken, or Vietnamese sausage. Bánh mì stalls litter the streets of HCMC so you’ll never have to go too far to fix your craving. For the freshest bread, get one in the morning or early evening.
Pho is by far the quintessential Vietnamese food (to foreigners at least). Pho is a noodle soup consisting of broth, flat rice noodles, herbs, and meat (usually beef or chicken). One of the most famous places to get Pho is from the “lunch lady”. She has been featured on Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” and always has a ton of customers. She opens up around 11AM, and only has a limited quantity of food. Once it’s gone, that’s it for the day. She is located at 23 Hoang Sa Street in District 1 of HCMC.
Seafood is another big attraction in HCMC. One of the most popular restaurants in town is Nha Hang Bien Duong. They have three locations in HCMC and all of them are almost always completely full with locals and foreigners alike. One of the most popular items on their menu are the various hotpots. From crab to vegetables to mixed seafood with a dried rice cake, hotpots are a fun and delicious way to go. The bravest of eaters can also try little sea snails that are common all over HCMC in restaurants and on street carts. Nha Hang Bien Duong serves them in a coconut butter that’s very tasty.
There’s no shortage of delicious food to eat in Vietnam. What makes it such an amazing foodie spot in addition to the flavors is that everything is also really cheap for western standards. Huge meals can easily be had for under $5 USD and many times, all you need for delicious street food is $1.