Ho Chi Minh City Food Guide – 18+ Best Foods To Eat In Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City food

Ho Chi Minh City is famous for the casual yet not less luxurious and exquisite cuisine. Over time, the dishes of this second biggest city and also the economic center in Vietnam have been unlost and even increasingly asserted its important place in the cuisine of the country.

I. General Overview Of Food In Ho Chi Minh City And Ho Chi Minh City’s Cuisine:

1. Ho Chi Minh City:

ho chi minh city

Ho Chi Minh City (is still commonly called with the former name “Saigon”) is the most populous city in Vietnam, and it is also the important economic, cultural, and educational center of the whole country. On the basis of the natural area, Ho Chi Minh City is the second largest city Vietnam (after Hanoi is expanded). Currently, Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi are the two special cities of Vietnam.

This area was originally known as Prey Nokor, and then it was formed through the Southern exploration of the Nguyen Dynasty. In 1698, Nguyen Huu Canh established Gia Dinh Phu, marking the birth of this city. When the French came to Indochina, to serve the colonial mining, Saigon was established and quickly grew, becoming one of the most important cities in Vietnam, dubbed as “the Pearl of Vien Dong” or “the Oriental Paris”.

Saigon was the capital of the Indochinese Federation in 1887-1901 stage. In 1949, Saigon became the capital of Vietnam, and later, the Republic of Vietnam. Since then, this magnificent city became one of the important cities of Southeast Asia. After the collapse of the Republic of Vietnam, in the event in April 30, 1975, Vietnam’s territory was completely unified. In July 2, 1976, the National Assembly of reunified Vietnam decided to rename Saigon to “Ho Chi Minh City”, under the name of the first President of the Democratic Republic Of Vietnam.

2. Ho Chi Minh City Food And Cuisine:

Ho Chi Minh City Food And Cuisine

It can be said that Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is a rich land, and it is where the rare commodities from everywhere come to gather together. It deserves the name “the city that never sleeps” or “Flesh-pot city” as people can find anything in Ho Chi Minh City. From Hanoi specialties, Hue specialties, Nha Trang specialties, or any other specialty of other areas, Ho Chi Minh City has sold all. Therefore, people usually wonder that if Ho Chi Minh City sells all of the specialities in Vietnam, then what its own specialties are.

It is very difficult to accurately answer this question. Ho Chi Minh City is the gathering place of the food specialties in Vietnam, so it seems that every specialty is Ho Chi Minh City’s specialty. Nevertheless, there are many opinions. Ho Chi Minh city has a lot of specialties with specific, rustic flavors, representing the taste of the South. This article will introduce some of the best and most well-known Ho Chi Minh City food dishes.

II. The Most Popular Food To Eat In Ho Chi Minh City:

Despite of the diversity with the combination of East – West cuisine, Ho Chi Minh City culinary still remains in its own features. Here are the best food to eat in Ho Chi Minh city which are very well-know, tasty, and have been existed for long.

1. Banh Trang Tron – Mixed Rice Paper:

banh trang tron – mixed rice paper

The first dish out of food to eat in Ho Chi Minh City is mixed rice paper.

Mixed rice paper is a very rustic dish, favored by the youth, especially the pupils and students. Sometimes it can be compared that if anyone has never enjoyed this dish, he or she has not really experienced the student time. The materials of Saigon mixed rice paper are very simple with just a few julienned rice paper sheets, a little sour mango fibers, kumquat juice, laksa leaves, dried shrimps, roasted peanuts, a couple of quail eggs, dried beef, shrimp salt stirred up, then you have a delicious and eye-catching mixed rice paper dish. This is a street food associated with the student time of every people in Ho Chi Minh City. For people used to live in Ho Chi Minh City, there are not many of them who have never tasted this dish.


– 1 bag of rice paper

– Quail Eggs (depending on your own taste and the rations)

– Dried shrimp (or crispy dried-salt shrimp), dried beef, roasted peanuts

– Green mango (julienned), laksa leaves, scallion, kumquat

– Fried dried onion, shrimp salt, satay, soy sauce, cooking oil

2. Bap Xao – Stir-Fried Corn:

bap xao – stir-fried corn

This is an extremely attractive dish but extremely rustic and cheap. The ingredients needed to make this dish are extremely simple, but the taste of this dish is very special and attractive. Just with corn kernels stir-fried with dried shrimps or tiny shrimps, scallions, spices, sugar, and butter, we will have a delicious dish which is really irresitable. Stir-fried corn is also very affordable so that it is suitable for people in all social classes and ages.


– 3 fresh corn cobs

– Dried tiny shrimp – 200 g

– Butter – 50 g

– Scallion, sugar, salt

3. Hu Tieu Go – Striky Noodle With Seasoned And Sauteed Beef:

hu tieu go – striky noodle with seasoned and sauteed beef

This is also an interesting dish of the food to eat in Ho Chi Minh City you should know. The name of this dish is probably a pretty strange name; and it is a bit “funny” for Northern people. However, to people living in Ho Chi Minh City, the striky noodle with seasoned and sautéed beef is very familiar to their daily activities. This dish goes along with the rhythmic sound “kleng kleng” every night – the clanking sound of the metal instead of the normal cries. You can see the mobile shop selling striky noodle with seasoned and sautéed beef around every streets or corners of Ho Chi Minh City. This is really a rustic in Ho Chi Minh City with wonderful flavor that everyone should try once when coming to visit this city.


– Pork tibia and neck bone

– Sliced pork thigh

– Lean pork shoulder meat (chopped)

– Cooked tiger prawns (Shelled)

– Pork ribs

– Quail eggs

– White radish

– White large onion

– Fresh scallion (chopped)

– Chinese water dropwort

– Lime

– Fresh chilli, pickled peppers, Chinese chive

– Soy sauce

– Dried noodle

– Fresh bean sprouts

– Fried garlic

– Fried dried purple onion

– Salted beet (dark brown fibers)

– Clean water for cooking soup

– Rock sugar, MSG, pepper

4. Bo Bia – Popiah:

bo bia – popiah

Popiah and spring rolls are not much different in shape. Popiah’s stuffing contains boiled cassava, Chinese sausage, dried shrimp, and salad. It is dipped in hoisine sauce with a little chilli, pickles, roasted peanuts, and fried dried onion. The taste of this Ho Chi Minh City food dish is different from spring rolls, and its shape is also smaller. This dish is sold most in An Duong Vuong Street, near the University of Pedagogy. After school, many students gather on this street and eat popiah. This dish is very simple to make with some ingredients which are available in any market in Ho Chi Minh City.


– Chinese sausage

– Dried shrimp

– Eggs

– Cassava

– Basil

– Garlic

– Carrot

– Soft and limber rice paper

– Black sauce (hoisin sauce)

5. Banh Xeo – Sizzling Cake:

banh xeo – sizzling cake

Sizzling cake (or Vietnamese crispy pancake) is the characteristic folk cake in Southern cuisine. It tastes very delicious and its name is created depending on the sound of the batter pouring into a hot pan “xeo” in Vietnamese). There are many ways to make sizzling cake, different from the materials to the sizes of the cakes, or even the way to make the dipping sauces. Each kind of sizzling cake bears the unique characteristic of their locality. Ho Chi Minh City’s sizzling is very delicious and crispy, rolled with raw vegetables and herbals, served with sweet and sour dipping sauce. The interesting feature of this cake is that friends can serve the dish together and chat with each other while waiting the hot, crispy, and delicious pancakes. Especially, when the fall comes with cool weather, enjoying the taste and the fragrance of sizzling pancakes are really wonderful. In fact, this is one of the best foods to eat in Ho Chi Minh City.


– Sizzling cake flour

– Turmeric powder

– Shrimp

– Lean and fat meat mixed

– Shiitake mushrooms

– Scallion

– Fresh bean sprouts

– Carrot

– Clean water

– Green beans (shelled)

– Cooking oil, fish sauce, sugar, chili, lettuce, raw herbals

6. Banh Tam – Silkworm Cassava Cake:

banh tam – silkworm cassava cake

Silkworm cassava cake (made from cassava) is a rustic dessert dish of Southern people. It is associated with the childhood of many people from rural to urban. It is called “silkworm cake) because of the silkworm-like shape of cake. It is elongated and covered with shredded coconut so that it looks like many silkworms. Silkworm cassava cake is slightly chewy with the succulent taste and fragrance of coconut. This is also a popular Ho Chi Minh City food which is often eaten with roasted sesame seeds and white sugar.

Silkworm cassava cake often has many different colors, such as green like pineapple leaf, white, and yellow like cassava.


– Cassava

– Chestnut starch

– Sugar

– Coconut milk powder (or canned coconut milk)

– Food coloring water or powder

– Roasted sesame

– Dried coconut copra crumbs

7. Com Tam – Broken Rice:

com tam – broken rice

For Saigon people, broken rice dishes are all very familiar dishes in their daily life. You can eat broken rice for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Broken rice has appeared everywhere in Saigon for a long long time, from the rustic alleys to the luxurious restaurants. Broken rice just contains steamed rice made from rice crumbs with grilled meat and a little fish sauce, but it is one kind of Ho Chi Minh City food which makes diners never satiated. There are several kinds of broken rice, such as:

– Broken Rice With Grilled Ribs

– Broken Rice With Pig’s Skin

– Broken Rice With Meat Pie

– Broken Rice With Eggs


– The ribs: high quality pork cutlets, honey, salt, fish sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, garlic, dried purple onion, pepper.

– The meat and skin: lean pork rump or shoulder, pig’s skin, sticky glutinous rice, salt, pepper, garlic, sugar, fish sauce

– The egg rolls: eggs, milled lean meat, Chinese vermicelli, large onion, wood ears, pepper, salt, sugar, dried purple onion, fish sauce

– The chili sauce: chili, sugar, vinegar, garlic

– The cooking oil – scallion: cooking oil, scallion

– Side dishes: pickles and raw vegetables: carrots, sugar, vinegar, salt, white radish (optional), fresh cucumber, and fresh tomato

– Broken rice (rice crumbs)

8. Pha Lau – Viscera Soup:

pha lau - viscera soup

Lau is actually a dish made from animal’s organs. There are many types of Pha Lau: pork, poultry, beef … Beef viscera soup is the dish that people like the most. Perhaps people will not feel familiar when they eat this dish the very first time, but since the third time tasting it, they will be actually “addicted”.

Beef viscera soup is a Southern dish in general, a Ho Chi Minh City food dish in particular, which has a miracle and powerful attractiveness to pupils, students, and even officers. In front of every schoolgate, from the primary school to the university in Ho Chi Minh City, there is always a mobile shop which sells the viscera soup. After school, students gather together around a viscera soup mobile soup and buy this hot, fragrant dish.

I wonder if they made the initial kind of viscera soup from beef intestine because it is a cheap material so that students who do not have much money still can buy this dish. Nowadays, in front of every school gate, there is always one or more viscera soup mobile soup. And now, beef intestine viscera soup has become a specific Ho Chi Minh City food dish which cannot be replaced. In fact, this is also one of the best foods to eat in Ho Chi Minh City you must try when coming to this city.


– Beef tendon

– Beef stomach

– Fried tofu

– Thickly sliced ginger

– Chopped ginger

– Chopped garlic

– Large onion

– Pepper

– Sugar

– White alcohol

– Chilli sauce

– Salt


9. Bot Chien – Fried Dough:

bot chien – fried dough

This is a special dish in the list of delicious Ho Chi Minh City food dishes tourists should try when coming to this city. Indeed, “fried dough” sounds a little “tasteless” but as long as people taste it once, almost every of them will compliment that this dish is very tasty and easy to eat. This Ho Chi Minh City dish seems to be very greasy, but thanks to the skillfully processing method of the sellers and the crunchy pickled carrot and green papaya served together, no one can said that this dish is satiated. Big eaters even can eat 2 plates of fried dough at once within a very short period of time.

Fried dough is sold on the small mobile shops on the roadsides to the cafes and restaurants. Depending on the localities, fried dough is made in different ways from the main ingredient – rice flour.

This dish is simple, but when it comes to Ho Chi Minh City food and cuisine, it cannot forget to mention this dish with its delicious taste which makes diners can never forget. Fried dough is widely sold a lot on the streets and near the school, because it is considered the favorite of the pupils and students with affordable price.


– Rice flour

– Chestnut starch

– Water

– Soy sauce, cooking oil

– Egg, scallion

– Dipping sauce: sugar, fish sauce, rice vinegar

– Nước chấm: đường, dấm, nước mắm

10. Xien Chien/ Nuong – Oblique Barbecue And Hot Pot:

xien chien – oblique barbecue and hot pot

The oblique barbecue and hot pot trend is very familiar with the youth who love Ho Chi Minh City food. However, this trend is just extremely flourished in recent years with many famous “brands”. With simple form, easy to choose kinds of dishes depending on the personal favorite, not following the style of bustling pubs, oblique barbecue and hot pot has really captured the hearts of the youth in Ho Chi Minh City.


– Fish balls

– Beef balls

– Shrimp balls

– Okra

– Tofu

All of these ingredients will be oblique to a stick, fried in cooking oil until they are inflated, turn to golden color, take them out and served with sliced, diced cucumber and dipped in hoisin sauce and chili sauce.

11. Goi Kho Bo – Dried Beef Salad:

goi kho bo – dried beef salad

In the tumultuousness of Saigon with crowed people line on the street, the street sounds have almost gone, and the vendors have to use an electric speaker so that people will no longer hear the sounds of the scissor cutting the dried beef salad which stayed in the memory of Saigon people.

If there is a list voted the typical snack of Saigon, dried beef salad will be on top. That is because it is very hard to find out other dish which is the convergence of sourness, spiciness, sweetness, fleshiness, saltiness like the dried beef salad. Not to mention it also created the charm towards customers: the crispy julienned papaya, the crunchy roasted peanuts, and the chewy pieces of dried beef… Followers of this dish even drink the sauce of the salad after eating the fillings.


– Dried beef

– Cinnamon leaf

– Roasted peanuts

– Julienned green papaya

– Laska leaves

– Tamarind, garlic, chili, fish sauce, soy sauce, hoisine sauce

12. Bun Bo – Southern Beef Vermicelli:

bun bo – southern beef vermicelli

Southern beef vermicelli (“bun bo Nam Bo” in Vietnamese) is a simple mixed-style vermicelli dish with the main ingredients include stir-fried beef, vegetables, and fried dried purple onion. Southern beef vermicelli impresses diners by the purity of the additives, spices, and sauce.

“Easy to make, easy to eat, and nutritious” are the words that we can use to describe this dish. This vermicelli dish is preferred by many people because its broth provides a full range of sweetness and sourness along with the refreshing taste of vermicelli and raw herbals.


– Fresh beef

– Large onion

– Garlic

– Roasted peanuts

– Raw herbals, vegetables (coriander, peppermint…)

– Fresh bean sprouts

– Fried dried purple onion

– Dried vermicelli

– Sweet and sour sauce: vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, chilli, garlic

13. Chim Cut Chien Bo – Quail Fried With Butter:

chim cut chien bo – quail fried with butter

Fried quail attracts passers by its attractive fragrance. A delicious fried quails dish contains the fried quails with the natural golden brown and not the red color of the food coloring water and the flesh is very soft and fatty. When eating this dish, the flesh of the quails must be fatty, soft, and the head, arms, and legs must be crispy. The quail sauce served with a hot loaf of bread is also one of the features that make this dish attractive to even hungry or not stomachs.


– Quails

– Soy sauce

– Five-spice powder

– Fresh cucumber

– Laska leaves

– Chopped garlic

– Salted pepper and lemon juice

– Butter

– Honey

– Spices: salt, MSG, pepper

14. Banh Canh Gio Heo – Pig’s Leg Thick Noodle Soup:

banh canh gio heo – pig’s leg thick noodle soup

Pig’s leg thick noodle is one of the popular breakfast dishes which are preferred by many people. Especially, when the weather turns cold, when the winter comes, might be nothing is better than a bowl of hot thick noodle with pig’s leg with the fresh broth made with dried shrimp and beets.


– Pig’s tale bone

– Pig’s leg

– Fresh thick noodle

– Scallion

– Salt


– High quality fish sauce

– Sugar

– Milled pepper

– Cooking oil

– Fried dried purple onion, coriander, chilli

15. Hot Ga Tra – Boiled Egg Tea:

hot ga tra – boiled egg tea

This is actually a dish originated in China. This dish is relatively “strange”, and the taste of this dish is also “strange” as its name. Boiled egg tea is actually boiled egg poured into a bowl of red tea. Instead of the white color as normal, the egg is brown as the color of the tea. Initially, many people who have tried this dish the first time will be “possessed” because they think about the fishiness of the egg. However, when this dish is familiar with you, you will no longer smell the fishiness. Egg is very nutritious; combining with the fragrant and cool red tea is one of the best Ho Chi Minh City food in summer.


– Chicken eggs

– Red tea

– Thin cloth

– Rock sugar

16. Com Chay Cha Bong Mo Hanh – Elderberry With Rousing, Cooking Oil, And Scallion:

com chay cha bong mo hanh – elderberry with rousing, cooking oil, and scallion

It has been a long time since we still ate the bags of dry elderberry and rousing. This delicious Ho Chi Minh City food snack now is the rousing elderberry but with cooking oil, onion, and chili sauce. Elderberry is crispy, swerved with fragrant stir-fried onion with cooking oil, sour tamarind juice, plus the slight spiciness and the sweetness of chili sauce and shrimp salt is an extremely delicious taste of the street food in Ho Chi Minh City.


– Rice (or sticky rice)

– Salt

– Pork or shrimp rousing

– Cooking oil

– Spices: sugar, fish sauce, chili sauce/fresh chili/chili powder (depending on your own taste)

– Scallion

17. Nuoc Sam – Ginseng Drink:

nuoc sam – ginseng drink

Ginseng drink is the summer dish which can help to reduce the body’s heat, it also has effects on mental refreshment and detoxification, so it is very popular and preferred in Ho Chi Minh City. Ginseng drink is very simple to cook but it seems to be relatively picky with a series of different stages. In return, the drink can be cooked from one material (winter melon) or a series of different materials. You can enjoy this herbal drink on any street of Saigon.


– Clean water

– Lemon roots

– Pouzolzia zeylanica

– Red seaweed

– Silks

– Sugar can

– Pineapple leaves

– Boat Lily

– Brown longan

– Isomalt sugar

18. Chuoi Nep Nuong – Thick Banana Baked With Sticky Rice:

chuoi nep nuong – thick banana baked with sticky rice

Thick banana baked with sticky rice is quite simple with just peeled pipe thick banana, covered by sticky rice mixed with coconut milk, and wrapped in banana leaf outside and grilled over charcoal fire. This dish is served with coconut milk and crushed roasted peanuts. This dish is such a simple rustic dish, but in the afternoon when people crave for a snack, it is often hard for them to resist the aroma of the thick banana baked with sticky rice cakes which are sold in passing mobile shops. This is actually one of the best Ho Chi Minh City food tourists should not miss!


– Sticky glutinous rice

– Thick bananas

– Sugar

– Coconut milk

– Roasted peanuts

– Chestnut starch, salt

– Chestnut tiny balls (“tran chau” in Vietnamese)

– Banana leaves for wrapping

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