Binh Quoi Village 2

This upscale venue includes a restaurant that serves Vietnamese specialities and a weekend seafood buffet. There are also bungalow rooms with river views and full amenities, ideal for an escape from the concrete tropical jungle of Ho Chi Minh City. For the best of rural Vietnam within a stone's throw Saigon, visit Binh Quoi Village 2 for a pleasant day with the family. Also experience Binh Quoi Village 1 a few kilometres away.

Binh Quoi Village 2 is set amidst verdant tropical gardens on Thanh Da peninsula just 20 minutes from central Ho Chi Minh City. The Village offers a spectacularly scenic retreat haven for weary urban travellers and Saigonese. Dine on a range of fish dishes and an extensive buffet set in surroundings of thatched cottages, monkey bridges and water coconut trees at Binh Quoi Village 2.

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Southern Vietnamese

Southern Vietnamese cuisine relies heavily on sugar and spices and an abundance of herbs and fresh vegetables. This is not a problem in Ho Chi Minh City, as the tropical climate nurtures a long and plentiful growing season, sometimes two. Dish preparation is simple with many cooking techniques borrowed from neighbouring Cambodia, China and Thailand. To sample a taste of the south, read below.

Banh Xeo: These fried pancakes are made of flour, egg and salt. They come stuffed with meat, vegetables, prawns and pork, accompanied by herbs and garlic/chili infused fish sauce.
Bun Mam: The sausage of Vietnamese soups made with everything but the proverbial kitchen sink. Ingredients include shrimp paste, aubergine, squid, prawn and much more. Be warned, it's not for the squeamish or those with a sensitive nose!
Canh Chua Ca Loc: This sweet and sour fish soup is a visual feast with red, green and white colours floating in a dark tamarind-flavoured broth. Typically Canh Chua Ca Loc is made with Mekong fish, pineapple, tomatoes and okra.
Hu Tieu: A soup-based dish consisting of long, thin, rice flour noodles served with barbequed pork, shrimp and fish.
Bun Thit Nuong: A delightfully fresh and simple dish. Vermicelli noodles blanketed in herbs, peanuts, sliced cucumber and topped with grilled, marinated pork. This is an easy one to eat. In fact, it's hard to eat only one! All of the above dishes can be enjoyed at most Vietnamese restaurants and street kitchens in Ho Chi Minh City.

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Viet Village

Viet Village serves authentic Vietnamese cuisine in a majestic atmosphere in central Saigon. Located in a beautifully renovated 50-year old French colonial villa, Viet Village offers a reasonably priced menu featuring mouth watering dishes that cover Vietnamese cuisine from North to South. The attentive staff is very knowledgeable and can answer any questions you may have about the food. Before you head back out into the Ho Chi Minh City heat, take time to browse the artifacts and photographs that decorate the walls.

With dishes from every part of the country, Viet Village's menu presents you with a lip-smacking array of choices. The restaurant takes pride in the authenticity of its traditional Vietnamese Cuisine. Viet Village offers a catering service, suitable for both corporate guests and intimate family meals. The traditional Vietnamese décor is subltle and smooth. Note the original brass temple bells and traditional Vietnamese musical instruments. When in HCMC head to Viet Village for an authentic Vietnamese food experience.

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Di Mai Restaurant

Di Mai is not what you would expect from a typical Vietnamese restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City: a sleek ambience, high-quality Vietnamese street food and great prices.

Most eateries fall under three categories – rural or colonial-inspired, high priced; mass chain, mid range; local corner eatery, budget – but Di Mai is in a category of its own: traditional Vietnamese street food in a sleek, modern environment. Di Mai’s creators, Capella D1, took the same approach they did with Sorae and San Fu Lou: smooth surfaces, dark, vibrant colours and excellent food. They also took a page from San Fu Lou and set reasonable prices.

Ambience

A replica of a mid-20th century truck is parked in the middle of the restaurant, with “Made in Vietnam” painted on one of its doors. The truck is surrounded by sturdy wooden tables and comfortable seating, and the vehicle itself also seats a group of six. Black and patterned tiles line the floor, red tiles hugging the large open kitchen, immaculate behind a sheet of glass.

Di Mai restaurant

Black and red are the prominent tones, giving off a similar vibe to the Sorae and San Fu Lou interiors, with historical elements from 1920s to 1960s Saigon subtly infused alongside quality wood furnishing. Some tabletops sport newspaper ads from the era – a common practice back then – and dishware commonly seen in rich Vietnamese households lines a wooden shelf in the corner. It’s a smart setup.

Service

Staff are attentive and communicate well in English. Service and hygiene are important to the Di Mai team, and they take special care to ensure that both are kept up to international standards. The chefs work fast and you don’t have to wait long to get your dishes. Everything comes neatly presented with quality dishware and silverware.

Food & Drink

The colourful, photo-filled menu offers a choice of six ice teas (similar to the ones in San Fu Lou), five fresh American-style healthy juices, eight teas from Teapins and five beers from around Vietnam.

The fresh juices in glass bottles are the highlight here, and are all made on the spot: Wondermelon, with a refreshing watermelon-mint flavour, and Detox, a beet-infused cleanser, are excellent. Three house wines and a few cocktails round up the signature beverages. Portions and prices are small enough to order several dishes at once. Normally fatty dishes like mi quang and fried spring rolls contain sparse oil and fat, allowing them to highlight the excellent ingredients.

Here was our experience:

Bong Thien Ly Xao Toi (VND55,000): Vietnamese flowers stir-fried in light oil. A healthy starter and easy to finish.

Heo Nuong La Lot (VND85,000): This is a slight variation on the signature betel-leaf-wrapped street food, with three spicy minced pork patties and three noodle rolls.

Cha Gio Vit (VND75,000 for four): These crispy duck spring rolls are not as oily as their budget counterpart, and have a thin layer of dough that doesn’t distract from the duck and herbs.

Com Gao Lut (VND20,000): Simple, tasty and healthy brown rice. Goes well with veggie dishes.

Canh Bo Di Mai (VND95,000): This is similar to pho bo, but simpler and without the noodles. It comes in a medium-sized bowl that is perfect if you want a light breakfast or lunch. Similar to the original style of pho, there is a slight sourness as you sip the broth.

Mi Quang Ga (VND78,000): Chicken, quail eggs, shrimp and Hoi An chili make a wonderful bowl. The shrimp are juicy, the broth slightly spicy and full of flavour, and the side dish of veggies fresh.

Banh Gan: A common Vietnamese street cake, this is rarely seen in restaurants of this calibre. Delicious, professionally made, yet sticking to its roots, it’s a good complement to an after-meal tea or coffee.

Banh Khoai Mi: A tasty cassava and coconut cake that is not overly sweet, great as a finisher after a hearty meal.

What Could Be Improved

The excellent fresh juices still don’t have a takeaway option.

What People Say

While the restaurant had a shaky start, the clientele has increased ever since, and the reception is generally very positive.

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Ngoc Chau Garden

Ambience at Ngoc Chau Garden

The rustic style of recycled wooden planks used in the restaurant’s decor create a homey charm to the restaurant while touches of turquoise and citrus paint on repurposed antique shutters brighten the mood. The deep terracotta tones of the brick walls, bamboo lanterns and antique tables add just the right touch of cosy. All these elements will make you feel at ease. The atmosphere at Ngoc Chau Garden is as if you’re being invited into the traditional southern-Vietnamese home of a close friend.

ngoc chau garden

The Food at Ngoc Chau Garden Vietnamese Restaurant

Ngoc Chau Garden’s extensive menu of over a hundred items is a blend of the best of Vietnamese classics and in-house creations. The Ngoc Chau stir-fried beef with the addition of baby corn and snow peas is a light and perfect pairing with rice. We’re pretty sure it’s destined to be an international favourite.

If stir-fry is not your cup of tea, the signature beef and lime leaves salad is quintessentially Indochinese. Crunchy white onions and semi-ripe wild starfruit add an amazing tanginess that readies your palate for more dishes, a splendid appetizer!

ngoc chau garden

Up for more salads? The dried gourami fish and mango salad combines the natural sweet and savoury flavour of dried seafood with the crunch and addictive astringency of unripe mango.

For fans of fruity flavours, there is also a revitalising display of Vietnamese fruit wines made with an assortment of ingredients such as mulberry, strawberry and persimmons.

Ngoc Chau Garden allows diners from and beyond Vietnam to sample the best dishes of the South, Central and North of the country. Perhaps the best item on the menu to represent Hanoi is Ngoc Chau Garden’s Cha Ca La Vong, fish marinated with turmeric powder and sizzled lightly in oil with a good dose of dill and green onions. This unique Northern Vietnamese classic is irresistible when tossed with fresh rice vermicelli, a spoonful of toasted peanuts and a dash of fish sauce or for truly hardcore culinary absolutes, a few drops of pungent and purple mắm tôm (fermented shrimp paste).

ngoc chau garden

Southern dishes are well represented here with Ngoc Chau Garden’s wide range of claypot simmered menu items. The grass carp simmered with galangal and caramelized fish sauce brings the Mekong Delta culinary traditions to a whole new level. Non-seafood choices including simmered young pork ribs or cow’s tendon are also available.

Ngoc Chau Garden’s extensive range of fried rice is also mesmerizing. The rare Chinese-Vietnamese classic, Hoang Kim Golden Rice, offered here requires the chef to carefully coat individual grains of rice with a thin layer of egg yolk before frying it to perfection…too much or too little egg yolk often results in an imperfect serving.

Ngoc Chau Garden’s signature fried rice exudes a mysterious green hue but comes with a completely natural and appetising backstory. Just like many Indonesian and Malaysian desserts and cakes, pandan leaf juice is used to color the fried rice and also give it an alluring fragrance. For a healthy choice, opt for Ngoc Chau Garden’s brown fried rice.

No Vietnamese meal is completely without hot soup. In what we consider to be the true star of Ngoc Chau Garden, the sour soup with snakehead fish and Egyptian river hemp (Sesbania sesban) blossom is both delicious and exotic. These delicately sweet and bright yellow blossoms cultivated primarily in southwestern Vietnam are also a feast for the eyes, a must-try.

ngoc chau garden

Service at Ngoc Chau Garden

With a team of polite and enthusiastic young locals dressed in traditional beige-toned southern Vietnamese garb, guests are unlikely to encounter issues with language since many of the staff at Ngoc Chau Garden are experienced with interacting with foreigners and are proficient in basic English. Feel free to ask members of Ngoc Chau Garden’s service crew for recommendations and the freshest ingredients on any given day.

ngoc chau garden

What People Say about Ngoc Chau Garden

With a consistent 4.5 out of 5 rating on both Google reviews and TripAdvisor, we’re quite certain that consistency, in terms of both flavour and service, is highly valued by the proprietors of Ngoc Chau Garden. Light bites such as spring rolls and pork skewers were particularly popular with reviewers.

What City Pass Guide Says about Ngoc Chau Garden

All in all, the uncomplicated yet non-repetitive character of each dish offered at Ngoc Chau Garden offers an eye-opening glimpse into the world of Vietnamese gastronomy. Regardless of whether guest are first-timers or seasoned veterans in terms of Vietnamese cuisine, Ngoc Chau Garden is able to deliver!

 

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Bun Rieu Nha

Bun Rieu Nha is the perfect place to sample some of Vietnam’s most delicious street delicacies, which have remained under-the-radar for far too long. Located in Saigon’s bustling District 1 and a mere 150 metres walk from the vibrant backpackers’ and nightlife streets Bui Vien and Pham Ngu Lao, truly tantalising local flavours are literally a hop away.

Bun Rieu Cua is a rice vermicelli noodle soup made with whole freshwater crabs. The protein essence from the crab rises to the top of the broth during the cooking process, and this delicious and savoury layer of crabby goodness is known in Vietnamese as rieu. The addition of tomatoes is also an important component in an impeccable bowl of bun rieu cua, adding a light yet unprovoking tangy touch to complement the addictive broth. This contrasts heavily with Vietnam’s most popular soup dish, pho, through a broth that is based on the natural sweetness of seafood instead of beef or chicken. Bun rieu also contains no five-spice; an important component of the famous pho aroma.

bun rieu nha

At Bun Rieu Nha, guests can enjoy tasty traditional food in a casual environment, which combines a rustic wooden setting with a touch of modernity. During typical lunchtime hours, young, local office professionals fill most of the seats at the restaurant; a good sign of great taste and authentic Saigonese cooking. Bun Rieu Nha’s team of waiters and waitresses include a good number who can communicate in English, ready to assist foreigners who may be sampling this dish for the first time in their lives.

Bun Rieu Nha’s signature bowl of Special Bun Rieu features al-dente, medium-sized rice vermicelli, crab, shellfish and a sizable cut of melt-in-the-mouth pig trotter and Hanoi-style tofu, which is best enjoyed with a customisable dip containing shrimp paste, chilli, lime and a small serving of sugar. Smaller options are also available with only shellfish and/or crab. Guests who desire heat will be pleased by Bun Rieu Nha’s homemade Vietnamese-style satay chilli sauce, which is fragrant but be warned - very spicy!

If noodle soup is not your thing, be sure to try the special deep-fried, square spring rolls stuffed with an irresistible mix of minced pork, shrimp, crab and carrots for added crunchiness. These rice paper spring rolls are served with vermicelli, fresh vegetables and a tangy dark sauce. As with many Vietnamese classics such as bun cha and bun thit nuong, this dish is best enjoyed tossed together in a bowl for a symphonic burst of flavours.

bun rieu nha

For hungrier or larger crowds, Bun Rieu Nha offers a hot pot where guests can dig in together for an Asian do-it-yourself party vibe. Beef shank, Vietnamese pork roll and an assortment of vegetables are cooked in Bun Rieu Nha’s signature crab broth. When the broth grows richer in flavour with the help of the ingredients that are being added, be sure to soak up all the goodness with a serving of rice vermicelli or Hanoi-style banh da, flat rice noodles.

Guests who are looking for a light, yet exciting, option may opt to try the Nom Cuon rolls, a culinary innovation that is unique to Bun Rieu Nha. These large summer rolls, stuffed with root vegetables, green papaya, eggs, pork, toasted rice powder and various herbs are served with an irresistible tamarind and peanut based dipping sauce. Vegetarians may also opt for meatless and/or eggless Nom rolls. Another equally delicious and exotic side dish is Bun Rieu Nha’s Northern Vietnamese style steamed escargots stuffed with minced pork and mushroom, which are served with a homemade, sweet, preserved ginger sauce.

Last but not least, Bun Rieu Nha’s wide selection of desserts are homemade on a daily basis. The popular sweet corn congee made with glutinous corn, coconut milk, rock sugar and pandan leaves is an indulgence for anyone with a sweet tooth. Healthy drink options including lime juice with chia seeds and black jelly drink with chia seeds are also a great pairing with Bun Rieu Nha’s traditional cooked delights.

bun rieu nha

Owner Ms Yen is a self-proclaimed fan and addict of bun rieu. She decided to open Bun Rieu Nha because she struggled to find a stall that served a bowl of bun rieu that was equally tasty and hygienic at the same time. This classic dish is mostly found on the street, sold by local vendors. It is exceptionally rare in restaurants perhaps for the simple reason that it is traditionally known as “street food”. Ms Yen shared her vision with us: to serve high-quality, healthy and delicious Vietnamese street cuisine in a clean, comfortable setting at reasonable prices and at a highly-accessible location to locals and foreigners alike!

 

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