Vietnamese Food: Eight Must-Try Dishes in Ho Chi Minh

Banh xeo - Vietnamese rice pancake with fish sauce, tomato and fermented carrot

Vietnam is an incredible foodie destination and with delicious street food around every corner, you won’t be hungry for long. Vietnamese food uses a number of distinct flavours to create fantastic dishes. The main ingredients often include meats such as pork, beef and chicken as well as a huge range of vegetarian and vegan options.

The southeast Asian country is charming and its people welcoming. Be prepared to be surrounded by beautiful landscapes, lush green and clear waters. Ho Chi Minh City also known as Saigon is a bustling hub for tourists and locals. Whether you’re on a tight budget or can splash out on a fine dining experience, here are eight must-try dishes while in the city.

Getting there

Getting visa on arrival Vietnam at Noi Bai Int'l airport in Hanoi city
Getting visa on arrival Vietnam at Noi Bai Int’l airport in Hanoi city

Ho Chi Minh is well-serviced by its international airport. You can easily grab a taxi or book a private car to take you to your accommodation. Whether you’re looking to spend a week in the city or are using it as a start to a much larger journey, you’ll need to check your visa requirements. Make sure you arrange your visa in enough time and have it properly sorted before travelling. E-Visa-Vietnam.com can help take the hassle out of arranging visas. They will do all the legwork for you and provide any information you need. Your nationality, type of travel and duration of your trip will all dictate what kind of visa you require.

1. Pho

A tourist enjoying the Pho Bo (Noodle with beef) in street cafe of Vietnam.
A tourist enjoying the Pho Bo (Noodle with beef) in street cafe of Vietnam.

One of Vietnam’s most popular national dishes, you can find Pho noodles throughout the country. Rice noodles served in a flavoursome soup broth with bean sprouts, beef, greens and spring onions. A basic bowl includes slices of beef but you can opt for more exotic options if you fancy something different. You can easily find vegetable-based broths with tofu and noodles. There are countless restaurants and street food stalls throughout Ho Chi Minh offering Pho.

2. Banh Mi

Famous Vietnamese food is Banh Mi Thit - bread stuffed with pork, ham, pate, egg and fresh herbs as scallions, coriander, carrot, cucumber, chilli....
Famous Vietnamese food is Banh Mi Thit – bread stuffed with pork, ham, pate, egg and fresh herbs as scallions, coriander, carrot, cucumber, chilli….

The “banh mi” is a quintessential dish you need to try while in Vietnam. You’ll find street food vendors and restaurants selling this baguette sandwich. They’re usually priced between VND 10,000 to VND 15,000 and are filled with pickled vegetables, chillies, coriander and meats. You can get both vegetarian and meat options available. Different meats include meatballs, roasted pork belly and boiled sausages. Head to Bahn Mi Huyhn Hoa, one of the most famous bahn mi spots in the city.

3. Goi Cuon

Goi Cuon
Goi Cuon is wrapped from shrimp, pork, vegetables, bun in rice paper, with accompaniments: sauce, chili, another name: salad roll, soft roll..

These fresh Vietnamese spring rolls always seem to look very photogenic. The fresh but crispy spring rolls include rice noodles, prawns, pork and leafy vegetables. Dip the rolls in a sweet dipping peanut sauce. You can find plenty of spring rolls at markets and popular street food stalls.

4. Banh Tet

Banh tet - Vietnamese traditional rice cake
Banh tet – Vietnamese traditional rice cake

This dish of banana and sticky riced served in a banana leaf is sure to hit your sweet spot. Available throughout Vietnam however, the south prefer the sweet version of this meal. The banh tet is served with a custard-like sauce and topped with sesame seeds.

 

5. Banh Xeo

Banh xeo - Vietnamese rice pancake with fish sauce, tomato and fermented carrot
Banh xeo – Vietnamese rice pancake with fish sauce, tomato and fermented carrot

This savoury omelette pancake translates to ‘sizzling cake’. The pancake is stuffed with lots of goodies such as onion, pork and vegetables. It’s served up with leafy vegetables and dipped in fish sauce. 46A Banh Xeo makes a fantastic banh xeo and is a must-try while in Saigon.

6. Com Tam

Com Tam Suon Bi
Com Tam Suon Bi

Com tam or broken rice is usually served with a fried egg and a variety of meats. It can be enjoyed at any time of the day and is fairly inexpensive costing about VND 20,000 from a street food vendor. It’s available all over the city but a popular spot is Cơm Tấm Ba Ghiền.

7. Bun Thit Nuong

Bun Thit Nuong
Bun Thit Nuong

A wholesome Vietnamese dish, vermicelli rice noodles with grilled pork and freshly chopped vegetables, bean sprouts, basil, chopped peanuts, and mint. Perfect for lunch or dinnertime and will give you plenty of energy to explore the city.

8. Banh Trang Nuong

Banh Trang Nuong
Banh Trang Nuong

This dish is somewhat similar in appearance to a pizza and is very popular in Ho Chi Minh. A dry rice paper is topped with pork, prawn or egg and then grilled or BBQ’d before being topped with fresh herbs and spring onion. You can try out a number of different toppings, it’s available from several restaurants and street food stalls.