If you are living in Ho Chi Minh City, you would no doubt have tasted some of the local delicacies that are on offer, however, many expats who live here are still unsure of what to ask for when eating out, or stick to eating what they feel comfortable with.
Vietnamese food is considered to be one of the tastiest and healthiest cuisines worldwide. Most dishes feature a blend of five fundamental taste elements and usually include a host of fresh herbs and vegetables balanced with meats and spices to reach a fine taste.
Below are 5 local dishes you must try while living in the city.
This is one of the most popular and common dishes in Vietnam. It is simple yet complex at the same time. Taking several hours to prepare, the dish is served with rice noodles in a beef broth and topped with onions, beansprouts and coriander leaves.
Many of the restaurants that serve Pho will give you a choice of meats to choose from. The basic selections are usually sliced or ground beef, beef flank, or beef meatballs. Accompanied with the broth is a selection of garnishes which include lime, beansprouts, scallions, chilli sauce, basil and sliced chillies.
Expect to pay around VND 30,000 – 35,000 for this tasty dish.
No matter which way you walk through the city, you will eventually bump into someone selling Banh Mi. These tasty and filling baguettes are perfect for the fast paced city life because they are very quick to prepare.
The type of bread will usually vary in different regions of the country but in Ho Chi Minh it is usually light and crusty in texture.
There are many different meats to choose from as the main filling. These often include steamed pork, roasted pork belly, fried fish with turmeric and dill, meatballs, pate, boiled chicken, grilled pork loin and Chinese barbequed pork.
There is also a choice of side fillings which include pickled daikon sprouts, carrots cucumber, coriander and soy sauce.
It will usually set you back around VND 20,000 -25,000 for this Vietnamese goodness.
This hearty dish is served for breakfast, lunch and dinner and literally translates to “broken rice”.
The dish originates from humble beginnings when Vietnames farmers used to serve the rice at home as it was not suitable to be sold at the market. These days it is a popular dish in the city and is served with a wide selection of meats such as barbequed pork chop, shredded pork skin or steamed pork. You also have the option to add a fried egg on top.
Sprinkled on the meat is some diced green onion and a side of sliced cucumber and pickled vegetables finish the plate.
Expect to pay around VND 30,000 when eating on the street. It will cost a bit more in restaurants.
Bun Thit Nuong
This brightly coloured noodle dish is very fresh in flavour and is great alternative to the heavier com or pho dishes. Unlike many other Vietnamese dishes that come with additional garnishes, this one doesn’t.
The Saigon version of the dish uses fresh vegetables which have been produced in the neighbouring Mekong Delta and Dalat regions.
Grilled pork shoulder is the most common meat used on top of the vermicelli noodles and this is then topped with lettuce, cucumber, pickled daikon, beansprouts, basil, carrot, mint and some chopped peanuts.
A small dish of Nuoc cham is served on the side and this is to be added to the main bowel to enhance the flavour.
A bowl of Bun Thit Nuong will set you back between VND 25,000 – 30,000
Although Pho is the more common soup dish in Vietnam, hu tieu is a soup that must be tried.
It is named after a tapioca noodle and there are many variations of the dish found throughout Ho Chi Minh. The dish is light in flavour and quite sweet. The broth is made from pork rather than beef. The main ingredient is often pork ribs, however, many restaurants and stalls create their own specialities. These can include toppings that consist of sliced pork shoulder, whole pork chop, meatballs, wonton dumplings, shrimp, squid, or fish.
Eating this dish on the street will cost you around VND 28,000, but expect to pay up to VND 35,000 inside a restaurant.