A 3-Day Tour of Saigon for Foodies

food - Saigon/HCMC: today

With recent heated debate about why fast food is losing its edge in the labyrinth of Vietnam’s vibrant local food scene, it’s never too late to discover (or rediscover) Saigon’s surprisingly good blend of old school and new world gourmet spots.

#iAMHCMC challenges you to undertake our intensive three day food schedule to live life like a food expert.

Vietnamese foodImage source: ids.uni.edu/vietnamesecuisine

Saigon Food Tour - Day 1

Start the day by savouring Phở Phú Vương’s noodle soup where the beef cut and style of broth are essentially Saigonese: meaty, robust and flavourful, served alongside fragrant herbs. Be sure to order the special bowl with oxtail.

For lunch, Cơm Niêu Saigon offers a truly local experience where food bonds closely with the performance arts. Freshly steamed and toasted rice, still piping hot in clay receptacles is tossed across the dining hall and smashed, an action that purportedly rids the toasted rice of overly charred contaminants. The rice is then tossed with fragrant shallot oil and enjoyed with your choice of Vietnamese stir-fries.

Vietnamese foodImage source: facebook.com/comnieusaigon.restaurant

End the night at Le Méridien Saigon’s Bamboo Chic restaurant where modern Cantonese meets Japanese flair: peking duck and wok-fried beef shank alongside creative sake cocktails. Come early between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., Mondays to Fridays to enjoy 50 percent off all cocktails, wine by the glass and beer.

Vietnamese foodImage source: Bamboo Chic restaurant - Photo by Mervin Lee

Saigon Food Tour - Day 2

Catch a glimpse of housewives going about their daily business at Tân Định Market, one of Saigon city centre’s most bustling hotspots for early-morning fresh produce.

Take a short stroll to Trần Quốc Toản street to grab a bite of a banh mi sandwich like no other: a dense, French-style baguette stuffed with jambon and cold cuts, which are made fresh daily at the Bánh Mì Ngọc Xuyến.

After an extended coffee break to dodge the relentless sun, head over to Hủ Tiếu Triều Phong on Võ Văn Tần street in District 3 to sample of one Saigon’s most popular noodle dishes: Hủ Tiếu Nam Vang, Cambodian-style chewy rice noodles with minced meat, shrimp, quail eggs and innards.

Vietnamese foodImage source: songmoi.vn

Witness Saigon’s growing ethnic diversity at Ralf’s Gelato, a no-frills ice cream parlour run by German-Italian expat Ralf Ehresmann. One should expect nothing short of pure artisanal gelato made without semi-finished starters; simply just high-quality French milk, micronised raw ingredients and state-of-the-art equipment fit for a self-proclaimed gelato otaku. Don’t forget to sample his nuoc mam-flavoured gelato. Don’t worry! It’s just a really intense sea salt caramel.

End the day on a literal high note at SOHY Sky Lounge & Dining where cocktails, whiskies and beers become perfect pairings with a 360° view of Saigon’s fast-growing skyline. Still famished? Don’t forget to sample the raw oysters served with steeped onion oil, quail eggs and caviar, freshly caught in Nha Trang City.

Vietnamese foodImage source: SOHY

Saigon Food Tour - Day 3

They say three’s a charm and what’s a better excuse to pamper yourself?

Start your day late but in time for lunch at La Villa, an authentic French restaurant set in a gorgeous garden villa in Thao Dien, District 2. Chef Thierry’s menu privilege tantalises seasoned tastebudsthrough a creative mix featuring the best of both the new and old world: duck confit ravioli, Japanese scallops, royal transmontanus caviar and choices of other delights such as Wagyu beef tenderloin from the highlands of Victoria, Australia. Don’t forget to leave some room for La Villa’s cheese platter.

Vietnamese foodImage source: La Villa

Relax over hot chocolate at Maison Marou, one of the only true artisanal chocolatiers in Asia that handcrafts chocolate using locally grown cocoa beans roasted to perfection by skilled experts. Remember to grab some of Maison Marou’s dark chocolate bars originating from a wide range of locations in Vietnam. The 74% Lam Dong dark chocolate is rare and delicate, grown just like specialty coffee along the hilly slopes of Vietnam’s central highlands.

Vietnamese foodImage source: Maison Marou

A light Vietnamese dinner is a great way to rest overworked bellies. Drop by Ngọc Châu Garden, a stone’s throw away from Bitexco Tower, for a taste of Indochinese home cooking. The traditional sour soup with snakehead fish and dien dien blossom, known in English as Egyptian river hemp, is both exotic and tantalising in flavour.

Vietnamese foodImage source: Ngọc Châu Garden

They say alcohol is good for digestion so we reckon you’d end your three-day mission by sampling some of the region’s best craft beers. Pasteur Street Brewing Company’s Jasmine IPA (6.5% ABV) featuring American hops and dried jasmine flowers is enjoyably tangy and floral, while the intense Cyclo Imperial Chocolate Stout (13% ABV) made with cacao nibs from the Mekong delta has achieved serious accolades abroad, achieving a gold medal in the prestigious annual World Beer Cup.

Vietnamese foodImage source: Pasteur Street Brewing Co.

Where to find the best Vietnamese street food and international food in Saigon

Addresses:

Phở Phú Vương - 120 Nguyen Thai Binh, Nguyen Thai Binh Ward, District 1

Cơm Niêu Sài Gòn - 27 Tu Xuong, W. 7, District 3

Bamboo Chic - 3C Ton Duc Thang, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1

Tân Định Market - 48 Ma Lo, Tan Dinh Ward, District 1

Bánh Mì Ngọc Xuyến - 41 Tran Quoc Toan, W. 8, District 3

Hủ Tiếu Triều Phong - 338 Vo Van Tan, W. 5, District 3

Ralf’s Gelato - 39 Dang Thi Nhu, Nguyen Thai Binh Ward, District 1

SOHY Sky Lounge & Dining - Floor 25-26-27, 72 - 74 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, W. 6, District 3

La Villa - 14 Ngo Quang Huy, Thao Dien Ward, District 2

Maison Marou - 14 Ngo Quang Huy, Thao Dien Ward, District 2

Ngọc Châu Garden - 116 Ho Tung Mau, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1

Pasteur Street Brewing Company - 144 Pasteur, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1

Banner Image source: Bamboo Chic restaurant - Photo by Mervin Lee