Binh Quoi Village 1

Binh Quoi Village 1 is ideal for celebrations with its lush gardens and riverside dining. The village is located just 20 minutes from Saigon's central district. On weekends, try the evening buffet of Southern delicacies and bask in traditional settings with musical accompaniment provided by local folk musicians. There are also rowing boats, fishing and games, enough activity to keep the entire family entertained. You may also want to visit Binh Quoi Village 2 in the neighbourhood if you're making the trip out from HCMC.

Binh Quoi Village features a range of Vietnamese fare all under one roof. The restaurant is a short 20 to 30 minute drive from the centre of Ho Chi Minh City, depending on traffic conditions. On weekends try the excellent buffet or more traditional cuisine such as banh xeo, grilled squid and even rat! The atmosphere of Binh Quoi Village makes for a nice change of pace from Saigon. The venue is located on Thanh Da Penisula, a small oasis of greenery and fresh air.

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Riverside Cafe

The Riverside Cafe is a popular venue for all day dining, serving International and Vietnamese dishes. Its tantalizing seafood offering is a favorite amongst all diners.

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Dau Homemade

Dau Homemade brings the best of Hanoi’s traditional culture to guests of all origins. Enjoy amazing fried tofu and rice vermicelli cakes with an added treat—a classical water puppet performance—all in the heart of Saigon’s city centre.

dau homemade

When one discusses Vietnamese food, especially that of northern origin, dishes like beef Pho and Bun Cha, a barbecued meat vermicelli dish made famous by ex-president Barack Obama and late gourmet extraordinaire Anthony Bourdain, are often mentioned. However, unbeknownst to many travellers, Bun Dau Mam Tom, which translates simply to “vermicelli, tofu and shrimp paste”, might actually take the top spot in the hearts of many locals.

Dau Homemade: Hanoian Gastronomy and Performance Arts in the Heart of Saigon’s District 1

Ms Giang, a true-blue Hanoian and cabin crew member for 15 years, decided to open Dau Homemade in Saigon to appease the demanding taste buds of local foodies and gourmet travellers. The restaurant has now expanded to a total of six branches. Every location of Dau Homemade features stunning Vietnamese-style imagery and wall art depicting the lives of locals, especially those of Hanoi.

dau homemade

“You’ll find a Bun Dau place in almost every alley and market in Hanoi”, Giang said proudly.

Bun Dau Mam Tom is a gourmet Vietnamese fried tofu specialty for many reasons. Frying perfect tofu isn’t child’s play. Dau Homemade makes its tofu in-house because it is practically impossible to acquire so it is suitable for the dish. It is traditionally made in Mo village, 20 km from Hanoi’s mesmerising Old Quarter.

Tofu at Dau Homemade is always fresh and never refrigerated: its centre becomes rigid when chilled. The chefs at Dau Homemade also assure that the oil’s temperature stays between 70°C and 100°C. No deep-fryers are used here, only traditional woks. The resultant masterpiece is pleasingly crispy yet both sweet and fluffy inside. Fragrant herbs and vegetables such as Vietnamese balm, perilla and cucumber—essential pairings that balance well with the fried tofu—are grown at a select farm in Lam Dong province. The dish is also enjoyed with sliced pork leg and pressed rice vermicelli cakes, something considered unique to Vietnam. The star of the show, Mam Tom, or Vietnamese fermented shrimp paste, is an extremely savoury dipping paste that has been considered the blue cheese of Vietnam, meaning it is an acquired taste.

dau homemade

Giang explained the process of creating a perfect dipping sauce based on fermented shrimp paste: “Squeeze kumquat juice into it, [and] a little sugar, it has to be brown sugar! [And] also hot oil and a little bit of rice wine. Add some chillies if you like. That’s our secret”.

It’s a true food culture experience.

For diners who prefer a lighter dipping sauce, Dau Homemade also offers soy sauce and a light sweet and sour fish sauce mix. Vegetarians may request the chefs to fry the tofu in a new batch of oil so that they can dine in comfort with no worries about cross-contamination.

Exotic Vietnamese Delicacies at Saigon’s Dau Homemade Restaurant

Lau Rieu, a slightly sour and highly savoury freshwater crab hot pot with beef is yet another gourmet dish served at Dau Homemade, a testimony to Giang’s dedication and love of food. Naturally-sweet freshwater crabs are ground, boiled, filtered and lightly sauteed with spices to create a pure and tasty base—most other places use fillers such a tofu and eggs. The impressive Vietnamese crab hot pot broth is finally completed with pork bones and special northern-Vietnamese vinegar. Enjoy this dish with fresh rice vermicelli, Vietnamese sausage and slices of beef.

dau homemade

Other exotic delicacies such as steamed escargots with pork, mushroom and ginger leaf as well as cha ruoi (grilled chopped clam worm), are an absolute favourite amongst Japanese and Korean guests. Finish your meal here with the pickled dracontomelon drink, yet another exotic beverage that could be described as a cross between plum juice and lemonade. Dau Homemade’s Special Sweet Soup appears in its dessert menu: the soft chilled tofu served with jasmine syrup is a delight.

Water Puppet Theatre and Delicious Vietnamese Food at Dau Homemade Near Ben Thanh Market

Beyond food, Giang’s commitment to the preservation of traditional culture has led her to study traditional Vietnamese water puppetry with grandmaster Mr. Phan Thanh Liem, the seventh-generation descendant of a renowned Hanoian puppeteer family clan. Liem pioneered the mini-theatre for the traditional art and has thus performed in multiple countries abroad. He chose Giang as the only student outside of his family—the clan has never before accepted apprentices beyond the bloodline.

dau homemade

Giang also organises performances at primary schools on a regular basis, a core activity that has led her to become a member of Vietnam’s prestigious Center for Research Conservation and Development of National Culture (CRCDC), which strives to preserve and disseminate the beauty of local performing arts including the likes of Cai Luong theatre and music of ethnic minorities.

Guests at Dau Homemade can enjoy the shows for free at 8 pm every sunday at Dau Homemade’s outlet at 52 Le Lai, 50 metres from Ben Thanh Market.

 

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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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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.

 

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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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