In every place you visit, treat your taste buds to new discoveries. It’s part of getting to know the culture of the people and experiencing the destination.
In my visit to Ho Chi Minh City, I didn’t expect that I would love eating Ph? (noodle soup) and drinking cà phê s?a ?á (Vietnamese Iced Coffee).
Vietnamese cuisine was a sweet surprise because in the Philippines I didn’t like this caramelized porkloin rice toppings that I ate in one of the Vietnamese food chains. That was my first taste of Vietnamese food. I gave it a second chance. This time, it’s authentic Vietnamese cuisine in Ho Chi Minh City.
Here’s my list of places to eat when you’re in Uncle Ho’s city:
1. QUAN AN NGON (160 Pasteur St., Dist. 1, HCMC)
If you’re looking for great food, ambiance, and value for money, then Quan An Ngon should be on the top of your list. This was recommended by fellow Pinoy Travel Bloggers. Thank you PTB!
The French colonial-inspired facade of Quan An Ngon might seem intimidating. It looked like an expensive place and you might skip it if you’re on a budget. But don’t let that “rich-ambient-looking” facade fool you.
At the entrance, the staff would readily assist you to a vacant table. We were so happy that we tried eating at Quan An Ngon despite walking, crossing in between motorcycles up to the point of getting lost. The food was worth the sweat!
When the staff handed the menu, we asked about their specialties. The staff recommended the following:
- Bún cá thì là (Vermicelli in Soup with fish and dill)- sour and spicy taste
Cost: 48,000 VND /Php 100 / $ 2.00
- Cha gio (Fried spring rolls with vermicelli, fresh herbs and the fish sauce dip)- The fish sauce was soooo delicious! hahaha. I kept on dipping the spring rolls until it absorbed the fish sauce. Their fish sauce (or patis as we call it in the Philippines) was different. It’s not that salty unlike what we have back home.
Cost: 52,000 VND/ Php 109.00 / $2.50
- It’s also a healthy dish since you eat the spring roll together with herbs and vermicelli. Based on my observations, most Vietnamese prefer eating noodles than rice even if this country is the 2nd world largest exporter of rice.
- Bánh xèo (Vietnamese rice pancake)- At first glance, I thought that it’s an omelet with shrimp and bean sprout (togue) stuffing. It looked like an omelet and so I ate it like an omelet. I sliced it.
Cost: 50,000 VND/ Php 105.00 / $2.40
- But then, there’s something wrong. What are the basil and mint leaves for? We then asked the staff and learned that we were eating it the wrong way. hahaha. Blooper of a first-timer. She then showed us how. She picked one leaf and wrapped the pancake.
Total Dine-in cost: Php 400.00 (with the drinks included) for 3 people.
2. PHO 2000 (1-3 Pan Chu Trinh, adjacent to Ben Thanh Market)
-If you’re looking for good-tasting Ph?, then Pho 2000 is your best bet. Its location is strategic. It’s adjacent to Ben Thanh Market.
Pho 2000 was again a recommendation by a Filipino friend who lived in Vietnam for a time. Thanks Amiel! This Ph? food chain is also popular because former US president Bill Clinton once dined there. Since then, they marketed the place as “Ph? for the president.” They displayed photos of Clinton on their walls.
- Ph? bo (beef noodle soup)- After buying souvenirs at the night market, we stuffed our stomachs for dinner. So far, Ph? 2000′s Ph? bo was the best that I tasted in my pho quests in HCMC. It tasted like the Filipino cuisines, Bulalo and Nilagang Baka. The serving can be good for two.
Cost: 45,000 VND /Php 94.00 / $ 2.16
- Seafood noodle soup- Papa ordered this type of pho, which was hot and spicy.
Cost: 55,000 VND / Php 115.40 / $ 2.64
- Cà phê s?a ?á (Vietnamese Iced Coffee)- Their Vietnamese iced coffee has a strong taste compared to the others that I’ve tasted in HCMC.
Cost: 17,000 VND / Php 35.65 / $0.82
Note: The waiter would give you wet wipes along with what you ordered. When you use it, you would have to pay for it as well. Wet wipes here are not for free.
3. Nhà hàng MIMOSA (88 Bui Vien St.)
-Nhà hàng means restaurant. We were so hungry after the Cu chi tunnel tour and was walking along Bui Vien St. to find a place to eat. A staff of the restaurant invited us to try out their food. Because we’re really hungry, we entered the small resto.
- Stir- fry shrimps (I wasn’t able to take note of the local name due to hunger): Among what we ordered, this was what I liked most. Tasty.
- Pho bo- Yes we wanted to try and compare the phos. But the Pho bo at Pho 2000 was still the best.
Cost: 35,000 VND / Php 73.40 / $1.68
- Com chien hai san (Vietnamese Fried Rice) -This was the most expensive among what we ordered. The serving was small. It tasted good but I would still prefer the Chinese’ yang chow.
Cost: 75,000 VND/ Php 157.32 / $3.60
- Chicken curry- Not that satisfying. The Indian curry is better.
4. Ph? 24 (Ben Thanh Market)
- On our last day in HCMC, we tried Ph? 24, a popular fast food chain in Vietnam. Compared to other pho places, this has a more modern look and ambiance. As much as I wanted to try their pho, my taste buds were craving for rice. Yes, rice! Pinoy ako e. Naumay din sa pho. hehe
- Com tam bi suon (broken rice with shredded pork and porkchop) – Nothing special. It’s just average.
Cost: 50,000 VND /Php 104.88 / $ 2.40
And now after writing this, I miss Vietnam and its food. In the Philippines, I know of three Vietnamese restaurants (Pho hoa, Pho bac, Pho24). Still, the authentic taste is different.
What are your favorite Vietnamese food? What other restaurants would you recommend?