20 must-try dishes in Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam)

Vietnamese cuisine is distinctive and delicious. Here is a list of 20 popular Vietnamese dishes you need to try when you travel to Ho Chi Minh City

20 must-try dishes in Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam)
Photo by Hien Nguyen / Unsplash
You should try all the Vietnamese food when traveling to Ho Chi Minh City
You should try all the Vietnamese food when traveling to Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by Lucas Hoang on Unsplash

Vietnamese dishes in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) stand out, not only because they’re delicious but also because of the variety - just like the people who live here. Therefore, the culinary experience in Ho Chi Minh City is nothing short of a buffet, as you can find all the best Vietnamese dishes here.

Here is a list of 20 popular Vietnamese dishes you don’t want to miss when visiting Vietnam in general and particularly Ho Chi Minh City:

1. Com tam

When in doubt, go for Com tam! Photo by IG eatin.boston
When in doubt, go for Com tam! Photo by IG eatin.boston

Who doesn't love Com tam—Vietnamese broken rice with grilled pork chop, shredded pork skins, and steamed egg meatloaf? Ho Chi Minh City people eat Com tam ALL THE TIME, proudly.

It doesn't matter whether it's a rushed breakfast, or a dinner in a Vietnamese restaurant, you can always have Com tam.

The secret of a delicious plate of Com tam, according to some local people, is not the beautifully grilled pork cutlet or the "cha trung" - Vietnamese steamed egg meatloaf, but it is the hot tasty rice, combined with the special sweet fish sauce and lots of chopped scallion oil.

You can try this at:

  • Com tam Nguyen Van Cu

Address: 74 Nguyen Van Cu Street, Nguyen Cu Trinh Ward, District 1 (here)

Open hours: 07:30–15:30

Price: ~110,000 VND ($4.8)

  • Com tam Moc

Address: 85 Ly Tu Trong, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1 (here)

Open hours: 06:00–21:30

Price: 78,100-101,200 VND ($3.45-4.47)

2. Banh mi

You can find Banh mi anywhere in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by IG thon.foodie
You can find Banh mi anywhere in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by IG thon.foodie

Banh mi—a Vietnamese baguette stuffed with meat and veggie—is the most popular street food in Vietnam. You can find Banh mi stalls on every street in Ho Chi Minh City.

A basic Banh mi may include mayo, pâté, Vietnamese ham, jambon, pickles, cucumber, spring onion, cilantro, chili, and soy sauce.

However, that's not the only combination for Banh mi. In Ho Chi Minh City, you can also enjoy Banh mi with grilled pork, fish cakes, sardines in tomato sauce, roasted pork, etc. Vietnamese creativity for Banh mi has no limits!

You can try this at:

  • Banh mi Huynh Hoa

Address: 26 Le Thi Rieng, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1 (here)

Open hours: 13:30–23:00

Price: 58,000 VND ($2.56)

  • Banh mi Bay Ho

Address: 19 Huynh Khuong Ninh, Da Kao Ward, District 1 (here)

Open hours: 07:00-09:00 and 13:30–19:00

Price: 20,000 VND ($0.88)

3. Banh mi chao

Have you ever tried Banh mi on a plate? Photo by IG candykun107
Have you ever tried Banh mi on a plate? Photo by IG candykun107

Banh mi chao—Banh mi served over a hot pan—is another famous version of Banh mi. While Banh mi itself is famous for its convenience and can be carried everywhere, Banh mi chao needs to be enjoyed on the spot.

The reason why this variation exists is that many Vietnamese people like to dip the bread in the sauce, or they want to enjoy Banh mi with something hot. People often eat Banh mi with a pan of toppings including sunny-side eggs, Vietnamese ham, meatball, pâté, mayo, and tomato sauce.

You can try this at:

  • Chao Restaurant

Address: 31 Tran Quang Dieu, Ward 14, District 3 (here)

Open hours: 10:00–22:00

Price: 49,000-99,000 VND ($2.16-4.37)

  • Banh mi chao Hoa Ma

Address: 53 Cao Thang, Ward 3, District 3 (here)

Open hours: 06:00–11:00

Price: 50,000-60,000 VND ($2.21-2.65)

4. Pho - Vietnamese rice noodle soup with beef broth

The famous Pho of Vietnam. Photo by Unsplash Markus Winkler
The famous Pho of Vietnam. Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Without a doubt, Pho is one of the extremely popular Vietnamese dishes, not only in Vietnam but also around the world.

Pho in HCMC is a combination of tradition and modernity, of traditional Northern taste and Southern taste. Unlike traditional pho, Pho in HCMC has a richer taste and is served with more herbs.

Don't forget to order a poached egg with soup when slurping a bowl of Pho!

You can try this at:

  • Pho Hoa Pasteur

Address: 260C Pasteur, Ward 8, District 3 (here)

Open hours: 05:00 - 23:30

Price: 55,000-95,000 VND ($2.43-4.20)

  • Anan Saigon

Address: 89 Ton That Dam, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1 (here)

Open hours: 17:00 - 00:00

Price: 50,000-250,000 VND ($2.21-11.00)

5. Hu Tieu - Southern rice noodle soup

Dry Hu Tieu is definitely a must-try dish in HCMC. Photo by IG Maryderoux
Dry Hu Tieu is a must-try dish in HCMC. Photo by IG Maryderoux

Hu Tieu is one of the Vietnamese dishes that originates from Chinese and Cambodian cuisine, then adjusted to suit the taste of Vietnamese people.

In a bowl of Hu Tieu, we have rice noodles, a rich broth made from pork bones and radish. It’s often served with sliced pork, shrimp, pork ribs, minced pork, quail eggs, and bean sprouts.

Another very popular version of this dish is Hu tieu kho, aka. "dry" Hu tieu. Instead of having rice noodles and soup in one bowl, you'll have two separate bowls, and the rice noodles will be mixed with the chef's secret sauce. This is a must-try version of Hu tieu!

You can try this at:

  • Hu tieu Ca Can

Address: 110 Hung Vuong Street, Ward 9, District 5 (here)

Open hours: 06:00 - 23:55

Price: 37,000-75,000 VND ($1.63-3.31)

  • Hu tieu Thanh Dat

Address: 34 Co Bac, Cau Ong Lanh Ward, District 1 (here)

Open hours: 00:00 - 04:30 and 05:30 - 23:59

Price: 54,000-80,000 VND ($2.39-3.53)

6. Banh xeo - Vietnamese pancake stuffed with meat

Legend says you can't stop eating after one Banh xeo. Photo by IG vietlife2021
Legend says you can't stop eating after one Banh xeo. Photo by IG vietlife2021

Banh xeo, aka. Vietnamese pancake is one of the most popular Vietnamese dishes from the Mekong Delta area. The name "Banh xeo" originates from the way it is made. When the chef pours the batter into the pan, it will sizzle, and the word "sizzle" in Vietnamese is "xèo".

Banh xeo batter is made from rice flour, coconut milk and a little turmeric powder. The filling of Banh xeo usually is sliced pork belly, shrimp, bean sprouts, and jicama.

Despite being fried with a lot of oil, Banh xeo is not so greasy, because it is very thin, crispy, and is served with a lot of herbs.

You can try this at:

  • Banh xeo 46A

Address: 46 Dinh Cong Trang, Tan Dinh Ward, District 1 (here)

Open hours: 10:00 - 13:00 and 16:00 - 21:00

Price: 100,000-200,000 VND ($4.42-8.84)

  • Banh xeo An La Ghien

Address: 11A Tu Xuong, Vo Thi Sau Ward, District 3 (here)

Open hours: 09:00 - 23:00

Price: 70,000-108,000 VND ($3.09-4.77)

7. Bun bo Hue - Hue style spicy beef noodle soup

Bun bo Hue is a must-try if you want some spicy stuff on rainy days. Photo by Unsplash Vy Huynh
Bun bo Hue is a must-try if you want some spicy stuff on rainy days. Photo by Vy Huynh on Unsplash

"Bun" aka. rice vermicelli is a type of fresh Vietnamese rice noodle. It is often served with different types of broth, and Bun bo Hue is one of the most famous vermicelli dishes.

Originating from Hue, Bun bo Hue soup is full of Hue’s flavor. The broth is rich, spicy, and fragrant with lemongrass and chili. The savory taste of the broth comes from shrimp paste and beef bones. This dish is usually served with sliced beef brisket, beef shank, and pork leg.

Don't forget to order beef marrow, it'll enhance the taste of the broth but not everyone knows that!

You can try this at:

  • Bun bo Ganh

Address: 110 Ly Chinh Thang, Ward 8, District 3 (here)

Open hours: 06:00 - 21:00

Price: 60,000-70,000 ($2.65-3.09)

  • Bun bo Nam Giao

Address: 248 Bui Vien, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1 (here)

Open hours: 06:00 - 23:00

Price: 60,000-100,000 VND ($2.65-4.42)

8. Oc - Seafood dishes in general

The menu in an "Oc" restaurant is unlimited. Photo by IG ansapsaigon
The menu in an "Oc" restaurant is unlimited. Photo by IG ansapsaigon

In Ho Chi Minh City, you will often be invited by Vietnamese people to “an oc” (literally "eat snails"). However, this just means eating seafood in general, they’re edible mollusks or seafood.

At "Oc" restaurants, there are a hundred ways to cook, like to grill, stir-fry, steam, boil, etc. Seafood in HCMC is transferred every day from the nearest seas, so its freshness is always guaranteed.

The best way to enjoy seafood dishes is to bring a Vietnamese friend along, they would know what type of seafood is good and the best way to have it cooked.

You can try this at:

  • Ut Ca Mau Restaurant

Address: 215 Dien Bien Phu, Ward 6, District 3 (here)

Open hours: 10:00 - 23:00

Price: 90,000-200,000 VND ($3.98-8.84)

  • Oc Dao

Address: C79 Nguyen Trai, Nguyen Cu Trinh Ward, District 1 (here)

Open hours: 10:00 - 22:00

Price: 60,000-110,000 VND ($2.65-4.86)

9. Banh uot, Banh cuon - Steamed rice pancake stuffed with minced pork

Having a light breakfast with Banh uot, Banh cuon. Photo by Pixabay Phuonghoangthuy
Having a light breakfast with Banh uot, Banh cuon. Photo by Pixabay Phuonghoangthuy

Banh cuon and Banh uot are some of Vietnamese best-known dishes for breakfast. Made with rice flour and tapioca flour, Banh uot is just like wet rice noodles, but a bit more chewy and thinner. Banh cuon is similar to Banh uot, but is rolled with minced pork and stir-fried wood ear mushroom inside.

Usually, Banh cuon and Banh uot are served with sweet and sour fish sauce, crispy fried shallot, and Vietnamese ham. Banh cuon and Banh uot are freshly made every time you order, so the dish is always warm and delicious.

Here’s a tip: Try ordering “banh cuon trung”, with an egg mixed with the batter!

You can try this at:

  • Banh cuon Thien Huong

Address: 179A 3/2 Street, Ward 11, District 10 (here)

Open hours: 06:00-21:30

Price: 24,000-64,000 VND ($1.04-2.83)

  • Banh cuon Hong Hanh

Address: 17A Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1 (here)

Open hours: 06:00 - 23:00

Price: 43,000-69,000 VND ($1.90-3.05)

10. Banh trang tron - Mixed rice paper

Best snack you can find in Ho Chi Minh City! Photo by Pixabay annhien
Best snack you can find in Ho Chi Minh City! Photo by Pixabay annhien

Banh trang tron, or "Mixed rice paper", is a popular tasty treat of HCMC’s street food. You can find this dish almost everywhere, from the streets, markets, to supermarkets, cafes, even restaurants.

The recipe is quite simple, just chopped rice paper mixed with shrimp salt, chilli oil, green mango, Vietnamese coriander, quail eggs, and dried beef, chicken, and squid.

You can try this at:

  • Banh trang tron Chu Vien

Address: 38 Nguyen Thuong Hien, Ward 5, District 3 (here)

Open hours: 11:30 - 19:00

Price: 25,000-40,000 VND ($1.10-1.77)

  • Banh trang cuon tron Ba Bac

Address: 40 Street No. 11, Ward 4, District 4 (here)

Open hours: 10:00 - 22:00

Price: ~23,000 VND ($1.00)

11. Xoi - Vietnamese sticky rice

Xoi is a ready-to-go breakfast for everyone! Photo by IG leosnak
Xoi is a ready-to-go breakfast for everyone! Photo by IG leosnak

Sticky rice is another popular Vietnamese dish. There are many types of sticky rice, but they can be divided into two main categories: savory and sweet.

Savory sticky rice is served with pâté, grilled chicken, char siu, Vietnamese ham, and soy sauce. Sweet sticky rice is more like a dessert, usually with sugar, mashed mung beans, coconut milk, and shredded coconut.

Sticky rice can come in a variety of colors based on the ingredients. If you have the chance, just try them all out!

You can try this at:

  • Xoi La Chuoi

Address: 85 Cao Thang Street, Ward 3, District 3 (here)

Open hours: 07:00 - 22:00

Price: 12,000-34,000 VND ($0.53-1.50)

  • Xoi ga 310

Address: 297 Hai Ba Trung, Tan Dinh Ward, District 1 (here)

Open hours: 06:00 - 10:00 and 17:00 - 23:59

Price: 25,000-50,000 VND ($1.10-2.20)

12. Lau bo - Vietnamese beef hotpot

Lau Lau bo is a signature hotpot in Vietnam, you can barely find it anywhere else.
Lau bo is a signature hotpot in Vietnam, you can barely find it anywhere else. Photo by IG candykun107

In Ho Chi Minh City, you can enjoy many different kinds of hot pot, but beef hotpot is always the most popular one.

Although the broth is also cooked from beef and beef bones, the taste of beef hot pot is completely different from Pho and Bun bo.

Beef hot pot usually includes beef brisket, beef bones, oxtail served with taro, egg noodles, and lots of fresh vegetables. However, don't be surprised when you see a balut served with the hot pot!

You can try this at:

  • Lau bo Ti Chuot

Address: 1-3 Cao Ba Nha, Nguyen Cu Trinh Ward, District 1 (here)

Open hours: 09:00 - 23:59

Price: 100,000-415,000 VND ($4.42-18.33)

  • Lau bo Nha Go

Address: 162 Ly Thai To, Ward 1, District 3 (here)

Open hours: 11:00 - 23:00

Price: 150,000-500,000 VND ($6.63-22.09)

13. Bun dau mam tom - Rice vermicelli with fried tofu and shrimp paste sauce

Not everyone can handle "mam tom" well. Photo by Pixabay nikluv
Not everyone can handle "mam tom" well. Photo by Pixabay nikluv

Bun dau mam tom is a traditional dish of Northern Vietnam, but it is also very popular for HCMC people.

The rice vermicelli in Bun dau mam tom is compressed into bite-sized pieces, presented in a tray with crispy fried tofu, cha com (a special version of Vietnamese ham, mixed with green rice flakes), rolled pork, and Vietnamese sausages. You dip all of them into the shrimp paste – a kind of sauce that has quite a strong smell, but super appealing.

You can reduce the smell by adding some lime, sugar, and chili to the shrimp paste and whisking it up!

  • Dau Homemade Restaurant

Address: 6 Hong Ha, Ward 2, Tan Binh District (here)

Open hours: 10:00 - 22:00

Price: 50,000-100,000 VND ($2.20-4.40)

  • Ngo Nho Pho Nho Restaurant

Address: 158 Pasteur, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1 (here)

Open hours: 10:00 - 20:00

Price: 40,000-165,000 VND ($1.77-7.29)

14. Bo la lot - Grilled beef in lolot leaves

No one can resist the smell of Bo la lot. Photo by IG ruahaman
No one can resist the smell of Bo la lot. Photo by IG ruahaman

Vietnamese love grilled dishes and rolls, and interestingly, Bo la lot combines the two.

Minced beef is mixed with spices, rolled in guise leaves, and then grilled. The aroma and slightly strong taste of guise leaves bring a very special taste to the beef, but won’t make it  too greasy.

You can roll Bo la lot with rice paper, rice vermicelli, and fresh herbs and enjoy it.

Bo la lot has such an extremely attractive scent when being grilled that you will find it hard to resist when passing by!

  • Bo la lot Hoang Yen

Address: 121 Co Giang, Co Giang Ward, District 1 (here)

Open hours: 15:30 - 22:00

Price: ~35,000 VND ($1.55)

  • Bo la lot Co Lieng

Address: 321 Vo Van Tan, Ward 5, District 3 (here)

Open hours: 08:30 - 21:30

Price: 50,000-165,000 VND ($2.20-7.29)

15. Mi Quang - Quang style noodle with pork and shrimp

Mi Quang will give you a burst of flavor, undoubtedly. Photo by Pixabay trilemedia
Mi Quang will give you a burst of flavor, undoubtedly. Photo by Pixabay trilemedia

Among many Vietnamese dishes that come from Central Vietnam, Mi Quang is the star.

Mi Quang is made from rice flour, and the noodles are quite thick compared to ordinary noodles. Mi Quang especially has a lot of versions: beef, chicken, shrimp, pork, seafood. You can also order a mixed bowl to try it all at once.

And you can try Mi Quang with braised frog if you ever have the chance, it sounds odd but tastes very nice with a traditional flavor!

  • Mi Quang Moc Vi Quan

Address: 732 Su Van Hanh, Ward 12, District 10 (here)

Open hours: 08:30 - 21:30

Price: 49,000-59,000 VND ($2.16-2.61)

  • Com Que Muoi Kho Restaurant

Address: 27 Tran Quoc Thao, Ward 6, District 3 (here)

Open hours: 08:00 - 22:00

Price: 60,000-150,000 VND ($2.65-6.63)

16. Bun rieu - Vietnamese crab soup with rice vermicelli

Bun rieu has a unique broth made from crabs. Photo by IG eatingwithkirby
Bun rieu has a unique broth made from crabs. Photo by IG eatingwithkirby

Bun rieu is quite different from other Vietnamese dishes. Its broth is made from rice field crabs. With tomatoes, the broth not only tastes delicious but also has a beautiful color.

In a bowl of Bun rieu, there are meatloaves made from crab and minced pork, tomatoes, fried tofu, and sliced pork. Vietnamese people can eat Bun Rieu at any meal of the day.

You can try this at:

  • Bun rieu Ganh Ben Thanh

Address: 4 Phan Boi Chau, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1 (here)

Open hours: 08:00 - 19:00

Price: 30,000-57,000 VND ($1.33-2.52)

  • Bun rieu Nha

Address: 63B Tran Quoc Thao, Vo Thi Sau Ward, District 3 (here)

Open hours: 08:30 - 22:00

Price: 55,000-68,000 VND ($2.43-3.00)

17. Bun mam - Vietnamese fermented fish paste soup with rice vermicelli

Once you go Bun mam, you can never go back! Photo by IG karanfoodfanatic
Once you go Bun mam, you can never go back! Photo by IG karanfoodfanatic

"Mam", aka. Vietnamese fermented fish paste is a general name for different types of fermented fish paste. Many popular Vietnamese dishes have "mam" as the key ingredient.

And Bun mam is one of those. This creates an extremely rich flavor for the broth. Bun mam is often served with roasted pork, seafood, and freshwater fish, along with fresh vegetables and edible flowers of the Mekong Delta.

You can try this at:

  • Bun mam Mien Tay

Address: 124 Tran Khac Chan, Tan Dinh Ward, District 1 (here)

Open hours: 14:00 - 22:00

Price: 35,000-45,000 VND ($1.55-1.99)

  • Bun mam 444

Address: 375 Le Quang Dinh, Ward 5, Binh Thanh District (here)

Open hours: 09:00 - 21:00

Price: 78,000-88,000 VND ($3.45-3.89)

18. Bun thit nuong - Vietnamese rice vermicelli with grilled pork

Grilled pork and sweet-sour fish sauce are match-made in heaven. Photo by Loes Klinker
Grilled pork and sweet-sour fish sauce are match-made in heaven. Photo by Loes Klinker on Unsplash

Not all Vietnamese dishes that have vermicelli are served with broth. Bun thit nuong, or rice vermicelli with grilled pork is a mixed dish, which is different from other vermicelli dishes served with broth. However, it is delicious in its own way.

In a bowl of Bun thit nuong, there are fresh vermicelli, grilled pork, grilled meatballs, and spring rolls, served with chopped scallions cooked in oil, peanuts, lots of fresh herbs, and sweet-sour fish sauce.

You can try this at:

  • Bun thit nuong Anh Ba

Address: 126 Le Van Sy, Ward 10, Phu Nhuan District (here)

Open hours: 06:15 - 22:30

Price: 65,000-74,000 VND ($2.87-3.27)

  • Hoang Tam Restaurant

Address: TK22/1 Nguyen Canh Chan, Cau Kho Ward, District 1 (here)

Open hours: 10:00 - 23:00

Price: 54,000-109,000 VND ($2.39-4.81)

19. Goi cuon - Vietnamese summer rolls

Goi cuon is a whole bowl of salad wrapped in rice paper. Photo by IG damanfood
Goi cuon is a whole bowl of salad wrapped in rice paper. Photo by IG damanfood

Vietnamese people love herbs, that's why Goi cuon or Vietnamese summer rolls are one of the best Vietnamese dishes. Goi cuon is made from a lot of fresh herbs, vermicelli, and meat, wrapped in rice paper and dipped in black soy sauce.

Besides the traditional Goi cuon wrapped with pork and shrimp, you can also try many other modern versions of Goi cuon.

You can try this at:

  • Wrap & Roll Restaurant

Address: 5th floor, Saigon Center, 65 Le Loi,  Ben Nghe Ward, District 1 (here)

Open hours: 10:00 - 21:00

Price: 40,000-165,000 VND ($1.77-7.29)

  • Cuon va Cham Restaurant

Address: 93Bis Nguyen Van Thu, Da Kao Ward, District 1 (here)

Open hours: 10:00 - 21:00

Price: ~15,000 VND each roll ($0.66)

20. Che - Vietnamese traditional sweet dessert

Che is the most popular dessert in Vietnam. Photo by IG 9493.corner
Che is the most popular dessert in Vietnam. Photo by IG 9493.corner

Che is the best Vietnamese dish when we talk about desserts. There are various types of Che, but in general, they are all sweet and served warm, most of them are made from a variety of beans, sweet potatoes, and coconut milk.

However, if you want a cold dessert to cool off while in HCMC, you should try Sam Bo Luong. Sam Bo Luong is a special type of Che originating from Chinese cuisine, made from seaweed, jujubes, longan, jelly, and lotus root, served with ice and has a fresh taste.

You can try this at:

  • Che Ky Dong

Address: 16C Ky Dong, Ward 9, District 3 (here)

Open hours: 09:00 - 22:00

Price: 17,000-35,000 VND ($0.75-1.55)

  • Che Hien Khanh

Address: 718 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Ward 1, District 3 (here)

Open hours: 09:00 - 12:30 and 14:30 - 22:00

Price: 23,000-55,000 VND ($1-2.43)

This is a list of Vietnamese dishes you don’t want to miss when coming to HCMC. If you are planning to visit Vietnam, you can find more information here.