What to eat in Ho Chi Minh City – Food in Saigon

It’s the first time you are in Saigon, aka Ho Chi Minh City – or the first time you have wondered what to eat in Ho Chi Minh city – and you are hungry. You can see street food everywhere: that lady with her stall in the small alley, or that old man selling some strange-looking but attractive dish right on his motorbike, etc. – all is so new and confusing! What should you eat, and how do you distinguish what from what?

My Saigon Friend is going to introduce you with the best dishes in Ho Chi Minh city. Below are the 10 most well-known dishes that are worth trying. Let’s discover what to eat in Saigon!

1. Pho – Number 1 of “What to eat in Ho Chi Minh city”

Pho is considered the most popular dish of Vietnam – it is brought with Vietnamese immigrants to almost all parts of the world. It is usually served with Vietnamese herb/vegetables and is best enjoy when still hot.

What to eat in Ho Chi Minh
Pho – with beef

The broth is described as a fantastic mixture between beef stew and herbs and special ingredients. That’s why Pho is translated as “Vietnamese beef noodles” in some websites/forums, although the translation can be misleading. Pho with chicken is also  a specialty – and spectacular too.

What to eat in Ho Chi Minh
Pho – with chicken

2. Banh my

One of the best dishes in Ho Chi Minh city is Banh my. Banh my (the baguette) is stuffed with various ingredients ranging from pate, sliced pork, pork skin, etc. to vegetables and cucumber and some special sauce depending on the cook. Properly made, the dish looks and tastes very delicious.

What to eat in Ho Chi Minh
Banh my

3. Bun Bo

To some people, Bun Bo lies in the top of “What to eat in Saigon” list. For Bun Bo, beef is the key ingredient. The stew is thick with beef flavor, beautiful scented by the herbs and other well cooked ingredients. As this dish has its origin in Hue – the ancient citadel located in Central Vietnam, it is usually addressed as Bun Bo Hue (Hue beef vermicelli).

What to eat in Ho Chi Minh
Bun Bo

4. Com tam (Broken rice)

Com tam is a fantastic combo of broken rice, a nice slice of grilled pork, omelet, cha (a paste of egg and pork), pork skin, some cucumber and possibly Vietnamese pickled vegetables. Together, the ingredients make a flavor hard to forget.

What to eat in Saigon
Com tam

5. Bun rieu

Bun rieu not only tastes good, it looks beautiful and attractive because of the various interesting ingredients: crab, blood jelly, tomato, pork, etc. To the locals, Bun rieu has its unique flavor not only due to the special crab flavor, but also due to the supplement of Mam ruoc (Fermented crab paste), or Mam tom (Fermented prawn paste) – either is fine depending on the restaurant. On the other hand, the paste has a strong fishy scent, therefore many tourists choose to pass it.

what to eat in Saigon
Bun rieu

6. Bun mam (Vietnamese fermented fish noodle soup)

Bun mam is another sparkling star in the list of best dishes in Saigon. This fantastic soup originates in the Mekong delta which is the hometown of “Mam” (Fermented fish paste). While Mam adds the strong and unique flavor of the soup, the various toppings like cooked prawn, squid, fish, eggplants, etc add more to its deliciousness.

what to eat in Saigon
Bun mam

7. Hu tieu Nam Vang (Pork and Prawn Clear Noodle Soup)

For fans of rice noodles, this is a must-try. Just as the English name indicate, this dish has a “clear” favor – not so many herbs and seasoning in it, meanwhile the sweetness of pork and prawn is definitely persuasive.

what to eat in Saigon
Hu tieu Nam Vang

8. Bun cha Hanoi

What to eat in Ho Chi Minh city on rainy days? Grilled pork served in a bowl of soup, vegetables (lettuce and herb) and bun (rice vermicelli) can be a great, great option. This dish is named Bun cha – enjoyed and praised by president Obama when he visited Hanoi city in 2015. To enjoy it, we dip vegetables and bun in the bowl of soup and take the taste from there. This tasty dish is originated in Hanoi city, but has presented everywhere in Saigon. Anyway, Saigon is where you can eat almost anything.

what to eat in Saigon
Bun cha

9. Bun thit nuong (Vermicelli with grilled pork)

This dish comprises grilled pork slices in smaller pieces served with bun (rice vermicelli) and raw vegetable, sprinkled in Nuoc mam (fish sauce) to make the flavor full. You might consider this is a “dry” version of the Bun cha, but the two dishes taste very differently, both very delicious.

what to eat in Saigon
Bun thit nuong

10. Banh cuon nong (Steamed rice pancake)

To make this dish, rice flour is spread and steamed in a special way that forms hot thin and soft pads, which wrap the mashed pork and mushroom nicely. Banh cuon nong is most delicious when it’s still hot, together with some chopped cucumber and herbs and dipped in seasoned fish sauce (which some famous shops have their secret recipe).

what to eat in Ho Chi Minh
Banh cuon nong

Although above are the best dishes in Ho Chi Minh city, we strongly believe you are the one who decides what to eat in Saigon, as well as your mental list of the best food in Saigon. After all, Ho Chi Minh is a great city for adventure and friendship!

In case you are looking accommodation in Saigon, please consider our recommendations of Apartments for rent in Ho Chi Minh City.


You can also discover more about the People of Saigon here.

It’s the first time you are in Saigon, aka Ho Chi Minh City – or the first time you have…


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