Vietnam – A Foodie’s Wonderland

This post dedicated to all the foodies out there! If you haven’t already, you need to make a trip to Vietnam!

We really didn’t know what to expect in terms of food when going to Vietnam. Our exposure to Vietnamese food previously was limited to Phở and some of the sweets at local shops in Little Saigon in San Francisco. Over the whole trip, Vietnam has been one of most pleasant surprises!

Below are a few of our favorite memories of places we visited and foods we ate.

We only went to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), and Hoi An — the foods were fairly different, and we were told that going to the North to Hanoi is also very different. Can’t wait to try it next time!

Seafood — Vietnam has this in abundance and HCMC has so much variety!

Ốc Đào
Hẻm 212B Nguyễn Trãi, Nguyễn Cư Trinh Wd, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam

Seafood Restaurant Restaurant Seating Mussels

This was such an amazing seafood place. Expect to get a local experience as this is not near any tourist locations but was recommended to us by our AirBnB host. It is apparently the main place that all the locals go to. So we should have realized that no one would speak English! That was the charm though – walking through the fresh seafood stands and picking out items that others were eating!
We actually don’t even know what exactly it was that we were eating… One dish was scallops, another was full of massive tiger prawns (The picture at the top of the page is from this place). Some of it looked like barnacles to be honest. There were snail looking shells, which you eat like escargots, but they weren’t… Same, Same but different… Delicious though.

Ben Thanh Night Market – in District 1

Saigon Night Market SONY DSC

Delicious! Take your pic of seafood — but be warned, it was almost 5x the price of Ốc Đào above! If I were to go again, I’d be hard pressed to choose! This place was definitely much more inviting to tourists so it is a good ‘safe’ restaurant to try. The best part was that our waiter even de-shelled all of our crab and lobster meat for us! Felt like royalty 🙂

Vietnamese Coffee


I couldn’t get enough of this. I’ve had it before, but never has it tasted as great as it did in HCMC.  Basically it is drip expresso in the top metal part, with condensed milk in the cup below. After the coffee has dripped through, you stir it all together. It is an exercise in patience though – expect to wait about 5 min as it drips from top to bottom – and then keep stirring between sips.

Phở – Phở Real!

RaymaPho Pho

So this is usually the first sample of Vietnamese food that people have tried. While it is good in Little Vietnam Toronto and Little Saigon San Francisco, they simply can’t compare to the Phở you can actually get in Vietnam! You could probably just to a Phở tour across the country. Every place we went to, had a different style – some with wider noodles, different flavored broth, and different herbs. In Hoi An, it had a serious kick to it as well.

The Bahn Mi in Hoi An

If ever there was an argument to allow people to experiment and create new foods, – this is it!

The _only_ place to go is:  Bánh mỳ Phượng – Anthony Bourdain featured them almost 10 years ago, but they haven’t lost their personal touch — the place is still run by the owner and her sisters who originally didn’t even know they had been featured on Bourdain’s show! The food is great, but the warmth and personality is what makes this place better! We went on a daily basis!

Beef Bahn Mi

Day 1: Try the special — Beef Bahn Mi, topped with hot peppers and a fried egg — wow!! It is incredible how they make the vietnamese baguettes to be so crispy on the outside and perfectly soft on the inside.

Bahn Mi Fish

Day 3: By this point, I had convinced them to make a special ‘fish’ Bahn Mi — they specially purchased some tuna for our second visit – loaded it up with hot peppers and other veggies — amazing.


By Day 4 and 5 – by this point, we were old friends! This is definitely going on the list of one the places we will miss most.

What would a trip to a foodie place be without a cooking class?? That’s right, we made this:


Tamarind Prawns, Chicken Satay with Egg, Spring Rolls, and Fish Curry.  Stay tuned… we’ll be reenacting this one back in SF.

10 days isn’t hardly enough for Vietnam, let alone even just the two cities we visited. We can’t wait to go back — there are so many foods that we missed out on!

Contacts and Address: 

Ốc Đào Seafood – Hẻm 212B Nguyễn Trãi, Nguyễn Cư Trinh Wd, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam

Bánh mỳ Phượng: Hoàng Diệu, Sơn Phong, tp. Hội An, Quảng Nam

Secret Garden Restaurant and Cooking Class – We’ve done a few cooking classes in the past – this one was definitely worth the money. Don’t expect a hardcore ‘training’ course, but more of a ‘cooking with us’ type class where you are joking and having fun with the chefs and they have you try making some of the foods, teaching about the ingredients and techniques. We really enjoyed it.

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