One of the best ways to find great food while traveling is to eat where the locals eat. Nhà hàng Biển Dương, a centrally located seafood restaurant, is always packed with local customers drawn by the huge variety of items on the menu. The specialty here is sea snail, steamed with chili and lemongrass. The seafood hotpot is also a favorite, as well as the selection of baked dishes and salads made with your choice of seafood items.
Nhà hàng Biển Dương, 45 Nguyen Thai Học, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. +84 91 610 40 00
BLOOM stands for “Because Love Overcomes One’s Misfortune”, and BLOOM is more than a restaurant; it also runs a training program for disadvantaged Vietnamese youth, who pick up important vocational skills while preparing traditional, strictly MSG-free delicacies. Housed in an old French colonial villa, the restaurant offers dishes like caramelized fish cooked in a clay pot, and heart of palm salad with pork and prawns. The great view from the roof terrace goes perfectly with a glass or two from the restaurant’s large wine selection.
BLOOM Saigon Restaurant, 3/5 Hoang Sa, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, +84 8 3910 1277
It’s impossible to talk about Vietnamese food in Ho Chi Minh City without mentioning this old favorite. Pho Lê is open late into the night, and the ideal place for people-watching over a comforting, large bowl of noodles and hot broth. Try the phở tái nầm, which comes with tender brisket and rare beef slices. Portions are generous, and a free flow of condiments (herbs, bean sprouts, chili sauce) comes with every order.
Also known as “Bo Tong Xeo”, this centrally located barbecue joint is beloved for its exotic meats and friendly, alfresco ambiance. Dishes on offer include sauteed eel with fresh milk, marinated locally-farmed beef, and even stewed snake. Luong Son Quan also functions as a beer garden, and you can expect to see a more local crowd here, compared to more tourist-oriented restaurants.
Luong Son Quan, 31 Ly Tu Trong, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, +84 8 3825 1330
An oasis of elegance in the middle of bustling, noisy Saigon, Mandarine offers a uniquely Vietnamese fine dining experience. Expect personalized service, and treats like sauteed beef in bamboo, crab meat spring roll, and grilled pork ribs with cinnamon. The restaurant regularly updates its menu, with new set menus inspired by seasonal ingredients or traditional holidays.
Mandarine, 11A Ngo Van Nam, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, +84.8 3822 9783