Plan A Perfect Saigon Food Tour To Sample The Best Vietnamese Dishes

One of the reasons Vietnam is such as popular destination in Asia is its delicious cuisine. Here you will find the best tips for a fantastic Saigon food tour given by a local.

Take advantage of this great Ho Chi Minh food tour to sample as many Vietnamese dishes as possible. The local delicacies you will find here will make everyone happy, whether you are a vegetarian, a meat-eater or you want to go gluten-free.

Saigon street food
Saigon street food. Photo courtesy of Vina.com

**Guest post by Emily Pham from Vino, Vietnam-based travel blog

Sai Gon, whose current name is Ho Chi Minh City, is the biggest city in the South of Vietnam. This place is famous not only for its beautiful and modern scenery such as Landmark 81 and Bitexco building, but also for its diversity of food. This is why it has become an attractive destination for visitors around the world. Some people even said that Sai Gon is a large, open-air restaurant with many delicious and cheap foods.

Foods in this city are not only tasty and healthy but also carry a cultural meaning. Therefore, if you have the chance to travel to Ho Chi Minh, try doing a Saigon food tour around the city. It will definitely add value to your trip. Here are some special foods you can try in Sai Gon that will make you want to visit Vietnam again.

TIP: Learn to cook Vietnamese dishes on a Saigon tour with M.O.M. Cooking Class or at a cooking class by Hoa Tuc.

A Local’s Insight To Order The Best Dishes On Your Saigon Food Tour

1. Mixed Shredded Rice Paper (Bánh tráng trộn)

Mixed shredded rice paper appeared in Sai Gon in 2005 – 2007, and became a typical snack for students very quickly. People in Sai Gon buy rice paper, peppers, salt, dried shrimp, dried beef, persicaria, quail eggs, etc. and mix to form a dish called mixed shredded rice paper. This is not just street food; it catches the attention of people of all age and gender. They consume mixed shredded rice paper whenever they can, even for lunch or dinner.

Where to find it:

  • Chu Vien Mixed Shredded Rice Paper (Bánh Tráng Trộn Chú Viên), Nguyen Thuong Hien street, district 3, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Hung Phu Mixed Shredded Rice Paper (Bánh Tráng Trộn Hưng Phú), No. 621, Hung Phu street, ward 9, district 8, Ho Chi Minh City

TIP: Explore and sample local delicacies on this Saigon street food tour by night.

2. Southern Fried Crispy Pancake (Bánh xèo Nam Bộ)

Fried crispy pancake has become a specialty and seemed to be a symbol of the hospitality of people in the South of Vietnam. No one knows when fried crispy pancakes appeared. Some said that it originated from central Vietnam; especially from Binh Dinh province (Tỉnh Bình Định) as “Banh Xeo” has a medium size.

Pancakes from the central province are often small and crunchy, which are cooked on wood molds with lids. Southern fried crispy pancakes are, in the opposite, crispy and chewy. Through many years with the exchange of culinary cultures between region and region, southern fried crispy pancakes are nowadays urbanised and became a familiar dish for people in cities and other areas.

Where to find it:

  • Quang Ngai Fried Crispy Pancake (Bánh xèo Quảng Ngãi), No. 153, Street No. 3, Go Vap district, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Thanh Dieu Fried Crispy Pancake (Bánh xèo tôm nhảy Thanh Diệu), No. 164, Nguyen Thi Nho street, district 11, Ho Chi Minh city
  • Muoi Xiem Fried Crispy Pancake (Bánh xèo Mười Xiềm), No. 213, Nam Ky Khoi Nghia street, district 3, Ho Chi Minh City

3. Southern Beef Noodles (Bún Bò Nam Bộ)

southern beef noodle
Southern Beef Noodle one of the dishes to try on your food tour of Saigon

This is an attractive eating for both Vietnamese diners and foreign visitors as it is quite simple and in harmony with people’s taste. Southern beef noodle is entirely different from other traditional noodles of Vietnam. There is no use of water, it is just a mixture of vermicelli, fish sauce, fried onion, fresh vegetables, and some other ingredients.

It is slightly long and complicated to make this dish. Firstly, they have to cook beef with cooking oil, crushed garlic, and pepper. Then, mix fish sauce with garlic, lemon juice, chili, and pepper. This is a critical step as this fish sauce will decide the flavour of your plate of southern beef noodle. The final step is to put fresh vegetables, vermicelli, fried beef, green onion, and peanut into a bowl, and pour fish sauce into this bowl gradually. What you need to do is to mix all ingredients well and enjoy.

TIP: You can taste Beef Noodle Soup on a great private Saigon tour for foodies where you will explore the city and its local markets. In this Ho Chi Minh food tour you will also visit some of the main city landmarks.
Click here for more info on price and availability.

Where to find it:

  • Gia Han Restaurant (Quán Gia Hân), No. 241C, Cach Mang Thang Tam street, ward 4, district 3, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Delicious Restaurant (Nhà Hàng Ngon), No. 160 Pasteur street, Ben Nghe ward, district 1, Ho Chi Minh City

4. Saigon Sweetened Porridge (Chè Sài Gòn)

Saigon is said to be the place of many types of sweetened porridge. As many people choose Sai Gon to settle down, sweetened porridge is in different colours and flavours to serve the need of a diverse population. While Hanoi sweetened porridge is famous for its taste and Hue sweetened porridge is good at ingredients, Saigon sweetened porridge is overwhelming with multiple colors.

Where to find it:

  • Thanh Tam Sweetened Porridge (Chè Thanh Tâm), No. 28, Phan Van Tri street, and No. 98, Bui Huu Nghia street, ward 7, district 5, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Ky Dong Sweetened Porridge (Chè Kỳ Đồng), No. 153/7, Ky Dong street, ward 9, district 3, Ho Chi Minh City

5. Grilled Rice Cake (Bánh Tráng Nướng)

Some people call grilled rice cake Vietnamese pizza or Dalat pizza as its ingredients are similar to those of a pizza. The main difference is the pie crust. While pizza crust is made from flour, grilled rice cake pie crust is made from rice paper – a traditional Vietnamese ingredient. To make this dish, they have to fry a thin rice paper in charcoal blast until crunchy, add some fried green onion, oil, and salted shredded meat. Then, break an egg to this cake, add some additional spices and continue to grill. When it turns into yellow, it is ready to eat.

There are many things to add to a grilled rice cake, depending on your taste, such as dried beef, format, chicken, pate, sausage, etc. You should tell the seller what you like and he will add that ingredient to your cake.

Where to find it:

  • Dalat Corner (Góc Đà Lạt), No. 386/43B, Le Van Si street, district 3, Ho Chi Minh city
  • Cao Thang Grilled Rice Cake (Bánh Tráng Nướng Cao Thắng), No. 61, Cao Thang street, district 3, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Dalat Pizza (Pizza Đà Lạt), No. 31, street D2, Binh Thanh district, Ho Chi Minh City

TIP: If you are craving vegetarian food, this vegan food tour of Saigon is for you. You will go on a real foodie adventure exploring local markets, stopping at restaurants to try vegan dishes and also visiting some iconic landmarks.
Click here for more info on price and availability.

6. Crab Soup (Súp Cua)

Crab Soup, a delicacy to try in your Ho Chi Minh City tour

It is not so difficult to find a restaurant with different types of soups in Sai Gon. You may not believe, but crab soup in this city is considered one of the most delicious snacks for every tourist. A bowl of mixed crab soup is the combination of multiple colors and ingredients such as corn, shrimp, crab, cilantro, mushroom, pepper powder, etc. and especially egg yolk, which gives the yellow color of this dish. People say that this eating is as delicious as any other traditional foods for its colour, aroma and taste.

Apart from the mixed crab soup, visitors can also enjoy oyster soup, crab soup with swim bladder, and so on when they arrive in Sai Gon. All of them are very pleasing to taste and worth trying.

Where to find it:

  • Hanh Crab Soup (Súp Cua Hạnh), No. 517, Su Van Hanh street, ward 12, district 10, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Mac Dinh Chi Crab Soup (Súp Cua Bông Mạc Đĩnh Chi), No. 59C, Mac Dinh Chi street, district 1, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Dung Crab Soup (Súp Cua Dũng), No. 40, plot O, Vinh Hoi residential area, ward 9, district 4, Ho Chi Minh City

7. Fresh Rolled Salad (Gỏi Cuốn)

Sai Gon fresh rolled salad has defeated many other traditional Vietnamese foods in the list of the top 15 most delicious Asian food. Some people said that fresh rolled salad was originated from popiah (Bò Bía) by Chinese people. The reason why people love this dish is that it is made from original and natural ingredients. Fresh rolled salad may include fish, meat, and vegetables, but the traditional version is made from boiled pork and shrimp, fresh vermicelli, sliced cucumber, cut fresh onion, cut carrot or mango, herbs, lettuce, and rice paper.

This kind of salad is eaten with sweet and sour fish sauce or soy sauce with chili and crushed peanuts. Foreign tourists like this dish because of the fresh taste of vegetables, combining with shrimp and pork. It is delicious and nutritious and never causes overweight or obesity.

Nowadays, fresh rolled salad appears in every street corner and luxurious restaurants in Sai Gon. In some countries, it is used as an appetizer.

Where to find it:

  • LLQ Fresh Rolled Salad (Gỏi Cuốn Tôm Nhảy LLQ), No. 424, Lac Long Quan street, ward 5, district 11, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Delicious Fresh Rolled Salad (Gỏi Cuốn Ngon Ngon), No. 322/13, An Duong Vuong street, ward 4, district 5, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Tu Loan Resturant (Quán Tư Loan), Ban Co market, ward 3, district 3, Ho Chi Minh City

8. Popiah (Bò Bía)

Popiah is a traditional Chinese food. When being imported into Vietnam, popiah was changed a little bit to fit Vietnamese people’s taste. Some people may confuse fresh rolled salad or spring rolls with popiah; however, they are different dishes and cooking popiah is much more complicated.

In Sai Gon, popiah is made with six main ingredients, including dried shrimp, sausage, shredded cassava, egg, lettuce, and rice paper. This is a kind of salty popiah. Salty popiah is dipped into soy sauce and then enjoyed.

In Hanoi – the capital of Vietnam, there is sweet popiah, which is made from rice flour, flour, shredded coconut meat, sugar, egg, black sesame, and so on.

Where to find it:

  • Tran Binh Trong Popiah (Bò Bía 3k Trần Bình Trọng), No. 240, Tran Binh Trong street, district 5, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Ly Popiah (Bò Bía Lý), Nguyen Van Giai street, district 1, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Popiah in Tan Dinh market (Bò Bía Chợ Tân Định), No. 127, Nguyen Huu Cau street, district 1, Ho Chi Minh City.

9. Sai Gon Bread (Bánh Mì Sài Gòn)

saigon bread
Saigon bread

Along with “Pho,” Sai Gon bread is a familiar food for tourists arriving in this city. You can see many “banh mi” carts in every corner of Sai Gon street. The bread here is made with different ingredients, but mostly, it includes pork, shredded cured pork skin, luncheon meats, Vietnamese radish, pate, sliced cucumbers, carrot pickles, sprigs of coriander, and fresh pounded chilies.

With these ingredients, “banh mi” in Sai Gon is a glorious food that visitors should not ignore. Some even said that they did try to eat as much bread as possible when they were in Vietnam. Nowadays, it becomes a favorite food for breakfast of students, worker, teachers, etc.

Where to find it:

  • Huynh Hoa Bread (Bánh mì Huỳnh Hoa), No. 26, Le Thi Rieng street, Ben Thanh ward, district 1, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Hong Hoa Bread (Bánh mì Hồng Hoa), No. 62, Nguyen Van Trang street, district 1, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Hoa Ma Bread (Bánh mì Hòa Mã), No. 53, Cao Thang street, district 3, Ho Chi Minh City

How To Get To Saigon

To arrive in Sai Gon, take a flight to Tan Son Nhat International Airport (Sân bay Quốc tế Tân Sơn Nhất). In this city, there are many ways for you to move from one place to another, including taxi, motorbike taxi, bus, and pedicab.

Above is the list of 9 best foods you must eat once in a lifetime, especially when you have a chance to travel to Sai Gon, Vietnam. We would like to emphasize that Vietnam cuisine is diversified.

There are some other specialties such as Hue beef noodle, Hanoi Pho, kebab rice noodles, stuffed pancake, and so on. So, visiting Vietnam only once is not enough to enjoy all of these foods.

Author Bio: Emily Pham is the blogger behind Vina, a Vietnam-focused travel blog. Born in Vietnam, a country with many unknown beaches, historic sites, and tourist attractions, she opened her blog to help travellers understand her country and introduce the elegant beauty of Vietnam around the world. If you are planning a trip to Vietnam, her blog will provide you with essential information on where to go and what to do in her country.

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