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Saigon Food: 12 Must-Eat Dishes and Where to Find Them

Unfortunately, the Saigonese, the way we call people who live in Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon, is not living in a city that has nice weather like Dalat or mountains and sea like Quy Nhon. Nevertheless, in Saigon, you can find a lot of delicious foods that come from anywhere in Vietnam. Together it makes Saigon food an attractive point to any visitors who come to the land.

Whether you are looking for things to do in Ho Chi Minh City or the best restaurants in Saigon, why not make your own Saigon food tour? So, what do we have on the menu of Saigon dish?

1. Phở (or Pho)

Pho, Saigon food, Vietnamese cuisine

Of course, Pho must be on top of the Saigon food menu. The most famous traditional Vietnamese food. A bowl of Pho has the pho-noodle, the soup cooked with beef bones, steak, fatty brisket, flank, tripe, tendon, meatballs (or bò viên), cilantro, and onion. You can have the choice to put all the toppings or the ones that you like. To me I usually have everything. And people put more different herbs when they eat to boost the taste.

Pho is made differently between the North and South of Vietnam. There are also some other versions of Pho such as Gia Lai dry Pho, Lang Son sour Pho, etc. but the original one is always the best!

Where to find Pho in Saigon?

Price range: $3 – $4 (VND 60,000 – 85,000)

2. Cơm Tấm (or Com Tam, or Broken Rice)

Original Cơm Tấm.
Cơm Tấm Ba Ghiền. It’s now in the Michelin Guide.
Cơm Tấm Long Xuyên in a box for take-away.
A dish of Cơm Tấm – Broken Rice with pork rib at Cơm Tấm Hùng Võ Văn Tần.

Cơm Tấm is one of the best Saigon foods. A truly signature dish of the land Saigon. So the word Cơm refers to Rice, and the word Tấm refers to the Broken or the fragmented grains as it truly is.

The most basic dish of Cơm Tấm is served with broken rice, a thin grilled pork chop, slices of cucumber and tomato, maybe pickles (some Vietnamese restaurants put this), and sweet fish sauce. However, a full version of Cơm Tấm is not that boring. You will have plenty of choices to put more things on such as Vietnamese meatloaf, pig skin, opla (fried egg), Chinese sausage, etc.

Furthermore, Cơm Tấm also has several different versions like broken rice with beef rib or chicken. Additionally, there is Cơm Tấm Long Xuyên (Long Xuyen Broken Rice) with the pork, boiled egg, and pig skin chopped and mixed up to use with broken rice and fish sauce.

Where to find Cơm Tấm in Saigon?

Price range: $2 – $3 (VND 40,000 – 60,000)

3. Bánh Mì (or Banh Mi, or Vietnamese Sandwich)

Do I need to describe or say more about Banh Mi, the most well-known Vietnamese street food? There is a lot of info about Banh Mi that could be searched easily, but if you are still curious about it, I found a good Banh Mi history in this article.

I’m not a chef so don’t ask me how to make a Banh Mi (maybe I can look for it and share it later), but I can describe it a little bit. To elaborate, the bread (Banh Mi) will be split in half lengthwise, then add a swipe of Vietnamese mayonnaise and Vietnamese homemade pâté, put in slices of roasted pork, slices of Vietnamese pork sausage, pork floss, slices of chili, cilantro, and mint leaves, pickled cucumber, pickled carrot, and daikon radish, and soya sauce at the end. Finally, you have the well-known and delicious Banh Mi Vietnam.

Moreover, there are many varieties of Banh Mi can be found. Some typical ones are Banh Mi with Vietnamese Pork Sausage (Bánh Mì Chả), Banh Mi with Fried Egg (Bánh Mì Ốp La), Banh Mi with Shredded Pork, Pork Skin, and Fish Sauce (Bánh Mì Bì), Banh Mi with Pork Meatballs (Bánh Mì Xíu Mại), Banh Mi with Chicken (Bánh Mì Gà), or Banh Mi with Vegetable (Bánh Mì Chay), etc.

Where to find Banh Mi Saigon?

Anywhere you see you can see a cart or a kiosk with the word ‘Bánh Mì’ on the street, or in any Saigon food market. Of course, it’s the famous Vietnamese street food!

Or if you are nearby some Banh Mi below, you should have a try:

Price range: <$1 – $2 ( VND 15,000 – 40,000)

4. Bún Bò Huế (or Bun Bo Hue)

Bún Bò Huế Yến Hương Giang – 325 Võ Văn Tần Street, Ward 5, Dist. 3.
A bowl of Bún Bò that I bought and took away in District 8.

Some people say that Bun Bo Hue is not delicious at its birthplace but in Saigon. And I totally agree with that. I went to several Vietnamese restaurants in Canada, and in some Asian countries but I cannot find a better Bun Bo Hue than in Saigon, even in Hue, where it comes from.

Bun Bo Hue is special with its soup, which makes it unique and different from other Vietnamese foods. Typically, a bowl of Bun Bo Hue contains the Bun Bo Hue noodles, Hue-style pork sausage, blocks of pork blood, pork hocks, parts of beef brisket, and beef shank. To boost the flavor, herbs such as mint, bean sprouts, basil, jalapeno, and lime are usually added in.

To me, Bun Bo Hue is a hidden gem of Vietnamese cuisine. There are a lot of Bun Bo Hue restaurants in Saigon with their special ingredients which make their Bun Bo Hue different. Among those, there are some particular Bun Bo Hue restaurants in Saigon that I love to go to.

Where to find Bun Bo Hue in Saigon?

Price range: $2 – $3 (VND 50,000 – 80,000)

5. Bánh Cuốn, and Bánh Ướt (or Vietnamese Steamed Rice Rolls)

A dish of Banh Cuon Hai Nam.
A bowl of Banh Uot with chicken coop.
Banh Cuon Song Moc put in a box for taking away.
A dish of Banh Cuon with Vietnamese beef sausage.

I will take the tone out and call Banh Cuon, and Banh Uot in English. This is my favorite dish in the Saigon food menu, especially Banh Cuon. The reason is simple, it’s fast to eat. It’s not as fast as fast food, you still have to sit down and wait for the dish to be served. Because I don’t like eating hot soup in hot weather, and sometimes I’m in a rush Banh Cuon and Banh Uot are the better choices.

Banh Cuon is like an evolved version of Banh Uot. Typically they are all made from rice flour. And with Banh Cuon, we will have all thinly chopped pork, wood ear mushrooms, and dried shrimp inside the rolls. In some Vietnamese restaurants, they add chopped white radish or egg, and in some Chinese restaurants put the whole shrimp inside the rolls. Moreover, a few Vietnamese restaurants sell Banh Uot with chicken giblet.

A dish of Banh Cuon or Banh Uot will be served with crisp shrimp pastry, Vietnamese pork sausage, and sweet fish sauce. Furthermore, as with any Vietnamese food, Banh Cuon, and Banh Uot are eaten with herbs and vegetables such as fried onion, bean sprouts, and chopped salad.

Where to find Banh Cuon and Banh Uot in Saigon?

Price range: $1.5 – $3 (VND 40,000 – 80,000)

6. Hủ Tiếu Nam Vang (or Phnom Penh Clear Rice Noodle Soup)

Another Saigon dish that I love. There are many varieties of Hu Tieu but the one that I love is Hu Tieu Nam Vang. I’m not so sure about where it came from. However, as its English name is ‘Phnom Penh Clear Rice Noodle Soup’ I searched, perhaps Phnom Penh, Cambodia is its birthplace. Anyway, being in Saigon for a long time, Hu Tieu Nam Vang has made its name at the top of the Saigon food menu.

Typically, a Hu Tieu Nam Vang bowl has rice noodles, a soup made of pork bone, shrimp, chopped pork, sliced lean pork, pork offal, squid, and quail egg. You will have the choice between dry Hu Tieu and wet Hu Tieu. The difference is, that dry Hu Tieu Nam Vang soup will be served in a separate bowl, and wet Hu Tieu soup will be added to the same bowl as the main dish. People usually add herbs, veg, and especially minced garlic to boost the flavor, making it boom in your mouth.

Where to find Hu Tieu Nam Vang in Saigon?

Price range: $3 – $4 (VND 70,000 – 80,000)

7. Bún Mọc (Vermicelli with Vietnamese Pork Sausage)

Bún Mọc Ròm Mập – 459 Võ Văn Tần Street, Dist. 3.

This Saigon dish originally comes from Moc village, somewhere in Thanh Xuan District, Hanoi nowadays. That’s why it has the name. Others say that the name comes from its main ingredient, which is a Vietnamese pork sausage, or ‘Mộc’ in Vietnamese.

When you go to a Bún Mọc restaurant, a bowl is served with vermicelli, soup made of stewed pork bone or pork rib, many different kinds of Vietnamese sausage, meatballs, onion, cilantro, and wood ear mushroom. To boost the taste of Bún Mọc, usually, people usually add sliced chili, different veggies, and especially shrimp paste, or shrimp sauce.

I didn’t know about Bún Mọc until recent years, my father found a Bún Mọc restaurant near our house. With its special taste, I added its name to the list of Saigon dishes. Later on, I noticed other Bún Mọc in the city and tried many of them. Nevertheless, the one near our house is one of the best restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City.

Where to find Bún Mọc?

Price range: $1.5 – $2.5 (VND 40,000 – 60,000)

8. Bánh Canh (Vietnamese Thick Noodle Soup)

The bowl Bánh Canh Gỏi Gà, or Thick Noodle Soup with Vietnamese Chicken Salad.
Bánh Canh Cua 260 – 260 Võ Văn Tần Street, Dist. 3.

If someone asks me about a Vietnamese street food that is connected to my childhood, I will say the name Bánh Canh. Surprisingly? There are many Bánh Canh restaurants in the city. However, the people who sell Bánh Canh on the street are the ones who added its name to the Saigon food list.

Bánh Canh was connected to my childhood by a small vendor selling it in front of my elementary school. Bánh Canh is made from tapioca starch mixed with rice flour. Together it creates the special chewy noodle of this food. Furthermore, a bowl of Bánh Canh also has the soup made of stewed pork bone adding onion and salt, sliced pork meat, pork rib, and pork leg if requested. Some vendors sell Bánh Canh with chicken meat or eat it with Vietnamese chicken salad.

Another version of Bánh Canh that made a lot of fans is Bánh Canh Cua (or Crab Thick Noodle Soup). The broth is made by grab meat as the main ingredient. With the toppings, we now have crab meatballs and crab meat. Some vendors add crab claw or even a whole crab into this Saigon dish.

Where to find Bánh Canh?

Price range: $2 – $3 (VND 45,000 – 65,000)

9. Bún Riêu (Vietnamese Crab Noodle Soup)

I didn’t like this food before. I used to think that Bún Riêu can easily cause stomach aches. However, my favor for this food increases more and more alongside my maturity. And I honestly don’t know why I really like this food recently. Hence, I added it to this Saigon food list to introduce it to everyone. Anyway, it doesn’t lead to stomach ache!

I especially like the Bún Riêu’s soup. The broth is made from stewed pork bone, then add grinded crab meat to make the perfect crab soup. A full option of Bún Riêu has pig blood, pork meat, pork leg, Vietnamese crab sausage, tofu, tomato, and grinded crab. Vietnamese usually eat it with perilla, mint, fish mint, sorrel, and Vietnamese coriander.

Bún Riêu is also a traditional Vietnamese street food. Notwithstanding, there are also many great Bún Riêu restaurants with different versions of the dish.

Where to find Bún Riêu?

Price range: $1.5 – $2 (VND 35,000 – 50,000)

10. Bún Thịt Nướng (Rice Noodles with Grilled Pork)

The grilled pork in the dish is very delicious. That one thing, to me, has helped it to be on the list of Saigon food.

I usually eat a lot of grilled pork beside the main dish. It’s not the simple pork meat that you grill. The vendor makes it with their special recipe for a totally different homemade flavor. Alongside, Bún Thịt Nướng includes fried egg roll cut in parts, grilled pork, sliced pork skin, peanut, chopped onion, sliced cucumber, and pickle. Bún Thịt Nướng is eaten with fish sauce. You should add some herbs and bean sprouts when eating, making the taste boom with various flavors in your mouth.

Where to find Bún Thịt Nướng?

Price range: $1- $2.5 (VND 25,000 – 55,000).

11. Gỏi Cuốn (Vietnamese Spring Rolls)

I’m not sure if you already know this food. Gỏi Cuốn (or Spring Rolls) is quite a popular traditional Vietnamese food in many restaurants in the world. That’s why I cannot miss it in my Saigon food menu.

To make a Gỏi Cuốn is quite simple. I believe there are instructions on how to make Gỏi Cuốn which you can search on the internet. In the end, you will have some rolls with shrimp, pork meat, vermicelli, and a few vegetables such as bean sprouts, cilantro, chives, and herbs.

The main factor that affects this whole food is the sauce. The black sauce is made with fried garlic with cooking oil, then fry it with grinded salted soybeans, and finally added sugar for your best taste.

Where to find Gỏi Cuốn, Bì Cuốn?

Price range: $0.2 – $0.4 (VND 5,000 – 10,000) / a roll.

12. Ốc – A Must-try Saigon Dish

If you haven’t eaten Ốc, you haven’t gone to Saigon. This food is particularly the top special food of Vietnam in general. Nevertheless, it’s even super special in Saigon as there is nowhere the variable kinds of Ốc in very different ways to process. Therefore, I have to add this special food to this Saigon food list, introducing Vietnamese cuisine to everyone.

It’s very hard for me to tell specifically about how to make or process Ốc. Most of the restaurants will process it by boiling, grilling, and frying with butter, garlic, tamarind, chili, etc. Furthermore, it’s also very difficult to say how many kinds of Ốc there are. I don’t really know their English name, or I’m even not so sure if they are. It’s better that I show you the address so you can figure it out yourself.

Where to find Ốc?

Price range: it’s very variable depend on what you choose on the menu.


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How do you love Vietnamese cuisine? I hope you like the list of Saigon foods. Here are some of the other Vietnamese foods that I believe you would love learning more too:

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