Eating in Saigon - Ho Chi Minh City is really special. It is no exaggeration to say that if you want to enjoy all of Saigon's delicious dishes, a lifetime is not enough. Because of that reason, let us suggest some delicious, authentic Saigonese dishes at reasonable prices in this article.
“On a typical morning in Vietnam, Hanoians will eat Pho, Hue people eat beef rice-noodle soup and Saigonese will eat Hu Tieu. Hu Tieu (a kind of noodle in Vietnam) is a dish which makes locals embarrassed because of its diversity in origin, cooking style and taste.”
In origin, if we talk about Hu Tieu recipe in the Chinese style, we will have satay noodles with a strong aroma of chili pepper and an eye-catching red-orange broth, while another Hu Tieu in Chinese style - Ho people's Hu Tieu has a thick and fragrant with oriental herbs broth. If we cook Hu Tieu in Cambodian style, we will have Hu Tieu Nam Vang (another name is Saigon Shrimp and Pork Chop Noodle soup), which has a mild sweet broth and is eaten with seafood. Besides, in Southern Vietnam, we also not only have My Tho Hu Tieu with chewy noodles and a fragrant smell of fried garlic but also Sac Dec Hu Tieu with milky, soft and light crispy noodles. We also shouldn't miss “Hu Tieu Go”, which is present in every corner of the city. Saigonese also skillfully cook Hu Tieu with some special ingredients such as fish, beef balls or braised beef to make the dish never getting boring. Normally, local people eat Hu Tieu with a broth but sometimes they change to Dried Hu Tieu (Hu Tieu is eaten individually with noodles and broth) so as not to get bored. When you come to Saigon, eating a bowl of hot Hu Tieu with a plate of green vegetables, sprouts and then picking up a few slices of fresh and spicy chili will be a memorable experience that is hard to describe on paper.
At noon, if Saigonese get bored with a typical meal, we will replace it with Vietnamese spring roll. The highlight of this dish is not only no grease but also has a variety of ingredients such as meat, shrimp, vermicelli, green vegetables, which all is wrapped in a thin layer of rice paper. So that Vietnamese spring rolls are very easy to eat for all people. The experience eating Vietnamese spring rolls with sweet and sour sauce or Vietnamese fermented anchovy dipping sauce with a little spicy chili will immediately awaken all your taste. In addition, local office workers prefer this dish because it is easy to buy, convenient and affordable. Vietnamese spring rolls are also processed in a variety of ways like Hu Tieu. Local people also roll it with other ingredients such as pork skin, basic spring rolls, chicken and then dip it with cinnamon leaf sauce, peanut sauce or sweet and sour tamarind sauce.
No one knows the exact time when broken rice appeared but this dish has been associated with the childhood of many generations of Saigonese. In the 70s of the 20th century, both Thuan Kieu and Kieu Giang brands became famous for their broken rice with grilled pork chop, shredded pork skin and steam eggs with domestic and foreign food lovers. Now, broken rice is a specialty of Saigon. Especially at night, broken rice restaurants all over the city light up, emitting the smell of fragrant grilled meat in front of the facade to invite people to eat.
“ The dish is served on a large plate, using a spoon and fork like Western eating style. The chef scoops the hot rice in the middle of the plate and arranges sequentially the fragrant charcoal grilled ribs, omelet, shredded pork skin, steam eggs and cucumber. Finally, the chef sprinkles a spoonful of fragrant scallion oil to get the completely broken rice. The sauce is made from original fish sauce, sugar, lemon, garlic, chili, pickles and tasted with a sweet and sour taste, moderate flavor. In particular, the sauce must be poured into the plate of rice and then eaten, instead of dipping into the sauce.”
“Eating snails” is the way that locals say when they want to enjoy seafood such as snails, oysters, clams, shrimp and crabs. Eating snails and seafood while sipping a glass of cold beer is truly Saigonese enjoying food style. This eating style is also extremely diverse because there are dozens types of fresh seafood, with more than a dozen processed ways at popular restaurants. The most popular seafood restaurants are on Vinh Hoi Street in District 4 and along the embankment of Nhieu Loc - Thi Nghe canal, which are always crowded and bustling. In order for diners not to get bored, the restaurants are also extremely creative when adding snail dishes prepared with salted eggs, cheese or garlic butter to eat with interesting and strange bread.