Banh Xeo Muoi Xiem

Centrally located, Banh Xeo Muoi Xiem restaurant offers traditional Southern dishes such as Banh Xeo, Banh Khot and Che. These 100 year old recipes were handed down to the restaurant’s namesake: Madame Muoi Xiem.

GALLERY

Quan Bui Restaurant

Not far from the monolithic Deutsches Haus and the French and American consulates, along the same tree-lined street where you’ll find the Saigon botanical garden, sits the newest Quan Bui restaurant. Spanning the corner of Le Duan and Dinh Tien Hoang, Quan Bui Central is a welcome local addition to a neighbourhood filled with international chains such as Hard Rock Cafe and Starbucks.

Bui Restaurant

Rather than sitting down to a mundane burger, guests at Quan Bui Central can experience Vietnamese comfort food in style. Deep terracotta tones merge with hardwood and artfully selected ceramic tiles to create a homey atmosphere from a different era. Indochine-style art graces the walls and the warm lighting puts a soft focus on everything. This is the perfect place for a business lunch or a dinner date because the restaurant can accomodate intimate get-togethers as easily as it does large groups.

Bui Restaurant

Traditional Cuisine Done Well

The dishes at Quan Bui are meant to be shared “family-style”. Start with a spring roll platter so that you can taste the differences in flavours between northern Vietnamese spring rolls (filled with crab and prawns), the central version (stuffed with minced pork and sausage), and fried Saigonese rolls, which are a mix of both worlds and feature shrimp and pork equally.

A classic green mango salad is a nice side dish to pair with the restaurant’s signature basa fish with passionfruit sauce, but for those who prefer beef, chicken or vegetarian food there are options for every palate. One of the reasons that Vietnamese food has become a beloved world cuisine is the combination of flavours that excite even the most refined tastes. Quan Bui’s chefs know how to utilise the punch of lime and chili with the depth of fish sauce and a touch of sweetness to create dishes that are traditional yet sophisticated. The fact that no MSG is used in the restaurants can take away any worry about indulging in the delicious food.  

Bui Restaurant

Pair the meal with a tra da (iced tea) in the afternoon or in the evening partake of one of the restaurant’s signature cocktails. The cocktail list changes monthly, which makes this a perfect place to come for repeated visits.

Prices ranging from VND69,000 for spring rolls to VND360,000 for a special fillet of seabass remain reasonable for the area.

Other Locations also Ideal for Events

Quan Bui Original on Ngo Van Nam is the most well-known location in the Quan Bui group and the first to have opened after the beloved flagship restaurant previously located in Saigon’s “little Hollywood”. The group includes two other locations as well, Quan Bui Bistro centrally located at the junction of Hai Bai Trung and Ly Tu Trong in District 1, and Quan Bui Garden, which features an open-air patio in District 2.

Bui Restaurant

The rooftop at Quan Bui Original or the Garden in District 2 are perfect for events such as birthday or corporate parties or a small wedding reception, while an intimate wine tasting or business dinner can be organised at the Bistro or Central locations.

Events can be created sur mesure and the Quan Bui team will work with you to find the perfect combination of food, drinks and ambience. International and Vietnamese guests will equally appreciate the restaurants’ attention to detail and high quality Vietnamese food combined with modern style.

What Others Say

The restaurant group scored an excellent 4.5 out 5 on TripAdvisor with 787 reviews at the time this article was written. Many reviews talk about the quality of the food and the fact that diners can try dishes from regions across Vietnam in one location. The general consensus is that while the restaurant is more expensive than street-food, it is less expensive than most restaurants in the area. The price is worth it for the delicious flavours and comfortable atmosphere. No tiny plastic stools here!

What City Pass Guide Says

Easily one of the best sit down Vietnamese restaurants to be found in HCMC. Excellent professionalism, presentation and selection, with well thought out decor. It is everything one hopes to find in a Vietnamese restaurant when visiting the country, and is a great choice for residents to return to again and again.

 

GALLERY

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.

GALLERY

Song Ngu Restaurant

Seafood runs deep in Vietnam’s roots. It’s everywhere and in every form, notably in coastal cities like Nha Trang and down south in the Delta. Ho Chi Minh City gets more than its fair share from both ends.

While street joints fill with all manners of fried and skewered sea life, distinguished Vietnamese restaurants specializing in crustaceans and fish fare are not as abundant as one might think. Fortunately, those with some cash to burn and a craving for refined seafood in a comfortable environment have Song Ngu as an option, which won TripAdvisor's Certificate of Excellence award for 2015.

Song Ngu Restaurant

For nearly 20 years Song Ngu has been serving traditional seafood recipes, grouping Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Malaysian and a number of other cuisines into a nuanced menu.

While the focal point of Vietnamese eateries has been “fresh” seafood ad naseam, the statement appears kitschy coming from a country where processed food is more expensive. Song Ngu takes a step in the right direction by instead highlighting technique, timing and preparation rather than the evident freshness of its food; the restaurant’s hygienic kitchen is also a more palpable selling point.

Simply put, it’s great seafood at dignitary prices (think VND 800,000++ or more per person).

Inset past a pair of green walls are two bridged French villas. The interior is quoted to resemble the style of the Cham people, although it’s more reminiscent of the Viet-Franco art deco you see in Dalat than a Cham hut. The crowd is polite – mostly Asian and American businessmen or upper-middle class families (hence the abundance of private rooms that seat 8-50 people). Unless you’re sat by a company dinner party, expect a quiet meal. Prepare for a formal atmosphere and dress business casual, though the restaurant accepts most manners and styles of dress. Beginning at 7 p.m. a live band navigates the restaurant playing traditional Vietnamese songs on classic instruments such as the t’rung, a type of bamboo xylophone.

Song Ngu Restaurant

The staff is accustomed to dealing with high-profilers – prime ministers and other dignitaries have eaten at Song Ngu on occasion. So expect courtesy, prompt service and a professional attitude. The wait staff speaks little English but pointing to an item on the large menu should suffice. A fair warning: water is not served here in any other form other than bottled, which is a bit of a setback. On a more positive (read: boozy) note, cocktails are around the VND 70,000++ mark, which is oddly affordable for the fine establishment. And yes, they are quite good, as are the mocktails. They also have free Wi-Fi.

Seafood is the heart, soul, blood, bones and marrow of Song Ngu. In other words, you’re coming here because you are determined to splurge on crustaceans made with the precision and skill of a samurai swordsman. This doesn’t mean skimp out on the other offerings. We began with a Song Ngu Style house cocktail, consisting of vodka, orange curacao and pineapple juice, and two fresh spring rolls. The cocktail was balanced, not overly sweet and (we had to do a double take) VND 70,000++, while the rolls (VND 40,000++ a piece) went down clean with homemade peanut sauce. You can also order fried spring rolls of your choice for VND 40,000++ each. If we had to choose one, we’d pick the seafood spring roll four times over. The roll is breaded and fried, a tad crunchy and filled with squid, shrimp, scallops and banana bits. The banana gives the filling a soft texture and semi-sweet savor. The roll pairs well with a mayonnaise dip. After the appetizers, we moved on to the three main courses of seafood.

Song Ngu Restaurant

Drunken Tiger Shrimp (VND 250,000++):

As our host pointed at something behind us, we turned our necks to a waiter promptly lighting a bowl of skittering shrimp on fire, then sliding the critters into a clear pot of Chinese cooking wine over a dancing flame. The shrimp were then taken back to the kitchen to be boiled in water. The wine adds some bitterness to the shrimp while the boiling water takes the acridity to a more balanced level. A short while later we were brought the finished tiger shrimp on a platter. The best way to eat these guys is to take the rostrum (the horn-like part atop the head), pull upwards to break the upper shell and suck out the juices.

Mantis Shrimp (minimum VND 400,000++):

This giant shrimp is quite rare outside its peak season (between the first and second quarter of the year). They’re typically VND 2 million++ per kilogram, so expect to pay a minimum of VND 400,000++ per dish. Mid-season, try and ask for a mantis with eggs – they’ll be the ones with coagulated red “yolk” inside. The recipe is quite basic. The shrimp is fried in garlic and served with a side of salt and lime. But as our host explained, the art lies with timing and preparation. You may want to ask one of the waiters to show you how to eat a mantis shrimp. We were able to get a mantis shrimp with the eggs still inside. The coagulated red substance was waxy, like hardened yolk, and quite protein-rich – it may be an acquired taste for some. The meat was soft and buttery, with a subtle hint of garlic, which cooked through the shell evenly. With a bit of lime and a dash of salt, this was our favorite meal of the afternoon.

Song Ngu Fish Hotpot (VND 235,000++ for small pot with 1 tilapia and VND 335,000++ for a large pot with 2 tilapias):

The tilapia is cooked in pork and chicken stock, radishes and onions. While the fish is soft and relatively flavorless, the stock is reminiscent of a somewhat spicy tomato and vegetable soup, and has a rich, smooth mouthfeel. If you’ve had fish soup in central Vietnam, this is a less intense, more accessible alternative, and quite addictive. By this point we were full, but ordered a fruit platter to clear the seafood smell. Complimentary green tea is given at the end of each meal as well.

From over 40 reviews, Song Ngu averages 4 out of 5 bubbles on TripAdvisor. Reviews praise the excellent seafood, in particular the mantis shrimp. There are few complaints, and even those are minor. People don’t seem to mind the high prices, asserting that the quality of food is worth it.

GALLERY

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.

GALLERY

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!

 

GALLERY

  Thank you for Signing Up
Please correct the marked field(s) below.

IS THERE A STORY OR TIP

YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH US?

GET IN TOUCH