Favorite Food Stops in Saigon

In this article, phuot3mien.com would like to share with you the article about delicious restaurants in Saigon that are loved by locals.

Banh Xeo Dinh Cong Trang

English translation: Banh xeo: sizzling crepe

Banh Xeo 46A Dinh Cong Trang was a humble banh xeo store located in the crowded Tan Dinh market area. The venue was only known to locals in the region, that is until Anthony Bourdain’s visit. He changed owner Ms. Thuy’s life forever.

Banh Xeo Dinh Cong Trang is the perfect representative of the Southern banh xeo in Vietnam. The crusts are extremely crispy and crunchy, and the crepe is full of with juicy pork, big shrimp, fresh bean sprouts, mung beans, and green scallions. Many gourmets believe that because the crepes are made of pure rice flour, with the skillful hands of the chef, their crusts become crackly, a characteristic unmatched by the banh xeo found in other restaurants.

making sizzling crepe
The making of banh xeo

Another unique thing about Banh Xeo Dinh Cong Trang is that they use firewood to cook the crepes, making them taste better. You have to see the steps of making the crepes firsthand to understand and admire the chef’s skill and effort in bringing the perfect banh xeo to your table here. Despite the heat of the kitchen that lasts almost all day, your banh xeo will really be nothing short of perfect.

Enjoy it with a cool tra da on a hot Saigon day. Make sure to use your hands like the locals do–tear a piece of banh xeo and roll it in one of the giant lettuce leaves provided in the supplementary veggie basket. Dip your roll in the sweet and sour sauce, and take a big bite, while contemplating one of Anthony Bourdain’s lines: “I do not eat in a dining room with a chair and carpet.”

Banh Xeo Dinh Cong Trang
Enjoying a banh xeo and sipping some ice tea

More information:

  • Location: 46A Dinh Cong Trang, Tan Dinh ward, District 1
  • Opening Hours: 10 AM – 2 PM / 4 PM – 9 PM
  • Price range: 80,000 VND (3.5 USD) for a banh xeo and 10,000 VND – 40,000 VND (0.44 USD – 1.76 USD) for a drink

Com Nieu Sai Gon

English translation: com nieu: rice in clay pot

I was besotted by her landscapes, thrilled by the food, charmed utterly, enthralled by the people, but particularly by one special person – Madam Ngoc.” Madam Ngoc was “the queen of Com Nieu Sai Gon” – a well-known traditional food spot frequented by locals.

Com Nieu Sai Gon
Source: Com Nieu Sai Gon

You will feel the vibe of traditional Vietnam as soon as you step inside the restaurant. From the decoration you see, the chairs you sit on, to the foods and the drinks you enjoy, all of these details showcase the authentic Vietnamese culture. The food here is equally delicious, but the most outstanding and impressive dish goes to com dap (charcoal grilled rice in clay pot).

Com Nieu Sai Gon
Source: Com Nieu Sai Gon

This is not just a dish, but a performance worthy of a circus. You will first notice two people standing fairly far from each other. The first one breaks the pot and throws the grilled rice. As you question whether the second person will really catch the rice, in a matter of seconds the rice is safe on a plate topped with some fish sauce, oiled green scallions, and sesame. It’s so funny and entertaining to watch. And when you feel happy, you definitely savor and appreciate your meal more.

More information:

Location & Opening Hours: 

  • Tu Xuong – 27 Tu Xuong, District 3, HCMC
    Hours of operation: 6:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m
    Hotline: 0901 301 808
  • Ho Xuan Huong – 59 Ho Xuan Huong, District 3, HCMC
    Operating time: 10:00 – 23:00
    Hotline: 0901 301 728

Price range: about 250,000 VND for one person

Fanpage: https://www.facebook.com/comnieusaigon.restaurant

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Oc A Soi

English translation: Oc : snails (sea snails, to be more specific)

Welcome to the nightlife of Saigon. Snails and beer – that’s what the locals do. Although Saigon is not a coastal city, if you mention snails, it will remind people of this town immediately. Snail is a favorite snack of not only students and officers but also businessmen and women. Among thousands of snail stores in Saigon, Oc A Soi has found a stable stand in the heart of the local people.

Oc A Soi

Time flies, and things have changed for Oc A Soi. There is no ringing bell – which was once used to announce when the food was ready, or the owner calculating money, but I believe the flavors are still the same. According to the owner, Anthony was a simple and modest man. Yes, you can definitely affirm that by what he said: “This is the way so many great meals in my life have been enjoyed: sitting on the street, eating something out of a bowl that I’m not exactly sure what it is, scooters going by. It’s so delicious, I feel like an animal.”

“ngheu hap xa” – steamed sea clams.
Oc is a delicious food of Saigon

For first-timers, the dozens of kinds of snails with different cooking styles, such as steamed, boiled, stir fried with tamarind, stir fried with coconut, and roasted with chili salt might leave you breathless. Different kinds of snails will bring you different kinds of tastes. For example, butter snails stir fried with tamarind has a touch of sour and sweet flavor, while steamed obtuse horn shell in coconut juice is pleasantly fragrant and fatty.

One of the dishes that customers really enjoy here is grilled chicken feet with chili salt. This may be unfamiliar to you but don’t worry, you’ll get used to it after the first bite. I guarantee it! Joining me for this meal are my three friends, two of which have never tried this dish before. But after the first bite, all their worries about the dish fell away, and our talk subsided to make room for the sound of chewing!

Snails with Garlic Butter
Oc Huong

There is a lex non scripta in Saigon: you can eat pho, banh mi, bun cha, spring rolls, or other millions of foods alone, but don’t eat alone when you eat snails. Eating snails is best with groups of friends, lovers, or families. It’s the time for you and your beloved ones to share your stories together while munching some snails and drinking cold beer. And did you know that A Soi had just opened a year before Anthony Bourdain visited? Look at where they are now. In some ways, Anthony is the guardian angel that brought travelers from around the world to this store!

More information:

  • Location: 237 – 239 Nguyen Thuong Hien street
  • Opening Hours: 4 PM – 10 PM
  • Price range: 20,000 VND – 110,000 VND (8.8 USD – 4.84 USD)

The Lunch Lady

“This woman – Madam Thanh, goes to the market. All the vendors know her well. They save her the best cuts of meat, the noodles she wants, the best produce. All the ingredients ticked off like the periodic table, then she comes back here, to this corner, then it begins. She is known as the Lunch Lady. She is a legend.” This is just a short introduction from Anthony Bourdain but it shows both his affinity for the Lunch Lady and her simple yet quality-driven process.

The Lunch Lady food store
The Lunch Lady food store
banh canh

The Lunch Lady is just a nickname, she wears it because of her food. This woman is famous for her “rotating menu” – she serves a different dish each day of the week.

Bun Bo Hue – the dish that made us utter “the best soup in the world.”

A perfect bowl of bun bo Hue includes rice noodles, juicy pig shank, lean beef, crab cake, and of course, the outstanding broth which makes this dish famous. The real broth of bun bo Hue has a naturally sweet, salty, and spicy flavor of lemongrass combined with shrimp paste, chili, and ginger. And the Lunch Lady makes her bun bo Hue in the same way. She knows how to play with the flavors so well.

More information:

  • Google Maps Location
  • Opening hours: 11 AM – 3:30 PM
  • Price range: 30,000 VND – 40,000 VND (1.32 USD – 1.76 USD)

If you enjoyed reading this article and would like some more fun info about what to see, do and eat (and a bunch of interesting cafes!) in Vietnam, follow us at the Travel blog!

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