Vietnam ranks fifth in the Happy Planet Index results, and second in the Asia Pacific region, according to the UK-based think tank New Economics Foundation. If happiness and food are really highly connected, we can understand why Vietnam ranks so highly in the Happy Planet Index.
On a short trip to Ho Chi Minh City recently, we visited so many different restaurants and cafes. Some were Vietnamese fine dining places, some noodles shops, cafes and food courts. The arrange and quality of food available certainly made us very happy. We were fortunate to have local hosts to bring us around but it meant that sometimes we did not really know where we were and sometimes we did not know the costs of the meal. What we have are photos of the restaurants, cafes and other eateries for memories.
Breakfast at Hotel Continental Saigon
Hotel Continental Saigon (or known called the Hotel Continental Ho Chi Minh City) is housed in an old colonial building which reminded us of the Raffles Hotel in Singapore.
Breakfast at Hotel Continental gave us a glimpse into the history and the diversity of the food available in Ho Chi Minh City. The restaurant, ironically named Le Bourgeois Cuisine Francaise in a Communist state, looked liked a stately French restaurant in a bygone era. The food is a mix of continental style breakfast sites, local noodles and fruits and some international cuisine.
Coffee in Vietnam
Vietnam is famous for its coffee and Trung Nguyen Coffee is the top coffee chain in Ho Chi Minh City. However, there are many hip indie cafes and other chain stores. There is no lack of places to have a cup of traditional Vietnamese coffee or an Americano or latte.
Saigon Cafe is a chain store which is hip and modern. They offer traditional Vietnamese coffee as well as the usual Western cafe fare.
Pho is one of those essential Vietnamese foods everyone should try. We decided to try pho is a fast food chain which seemed popular with the locals – Pho 24.
Pho 24 serves a variety of pho as well as sides dishes and even desserts. The prices are very reasonable and the pho we tried was not bad – not gourmet stuff but tasty and satisfying.
Traditional Vietnamese Food in Casual Dining chain – Mon Hue
Mon Hue is a casual restaurant chain which offers authentic royal Vietnamese cuisine, known locally as Hue food. They serve rice cakes, rice rolls, noodles, congees, pork pies and a variety of other interesting dishes. They ave very affordably priced combo sets.
Authentic Vietnamese Restaurants
SH Garden is a terrace restaurant with a great view of old Saigon and a good variety of delicious traditional Vietnamese dishes.
Many typical dishes found in Vietnamese homes are on the menu. Interesting items include Deep fried little anabas fish with tamarind sauce, “SH” Banana spring rolls, Steamed rice paper with deep fried prawn, Grilled Prawns with Bàu Đá Wine andSoft-shelled-crab Pan-fried with Garlic.
Nha Hang Ngon
Nha Hang Ngon Restaurant is housed in a beautifully restored French villa with ponds and courtyards. It has an extensive menu offering a wide range of classic Vietnamese dishes.
Some of the interesting items served in Nha Hang Ngon Restaurant – besides the well-loved, spring rolls, papaya salad and pho – are Grilled Pounded Shrimp Paste on Sugar Cane served with Rice Vermicelli & Rice Paper, Pork with Rice Paper and Vermicelli in Soup with Snails and Tomatoes.
Street Stalls and Food Court
There are plenty of street food vendors. For those not used to standing on road sides and eating amidst traffic generated smoke and dust, you can now find most of the traditional Vietnamese street food in air-conditioned food courts.
We found a food court in Parkson Saigon Tourist Plaza where there were a good number of stores selling Vietnamese food. There was even a store specializing in Singapore noodles called Uncle Yee’s Singapore Food.
We tried their Vietnamese rice cup cakes and their version of chendol Both were very good.
Japanese Restaurant in Vietnam
We were brought to a Japanese Restaurant with an interesting name – Juugoya 15 Nights is Japanese Legend. There must be a story behind the name but we never found out.
The inside looked like a typical Japanese restaurant except that it was very large and spacious. The Japanese food offered was of good quality and delicious.
Eating in Vietnam can be a wonderful and memorable food trip. The number of eateries and cafes is staggering – you see them everywhere. The variety of food is extensive – from the familiar to the exotic – and restaurants cater to a wide range of budget. Finding delicious food in Ho Chi Minh City is not a problem – deciding what to eat with the limited time there is the real problem but that is a happy problem.