My Top 10 Favourite Street Foods in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) Vietnam

There are countless restaurants to wine and dine your way around in Ho Chi Minh City, but the heart of Saigon lies in the tiniest alleyways on top of miniature plastic tables and chairs. Understanding a country's culture often lies in its cuisine and Vietnam's can be found in the food stalls that cover every district, neighbourhood and laneway across the country.

Street food in Ho Chi Minh City is not only an easy and inexpensive way to quickly satisfy your cravings, but it's also a doorway to a whole new world of Saigonese deliciousness. Here are my personal top 10 favourite street eats to find in Ho Chi Minh City Saigon.

1. Bún Mắm (Fermented Fish Soup)

Brace yourself. Here we have a noodle soup with a fermented fish broth, seafood, pork belly, eggplant and fish cake. I know ... fermented fish broth, pffft pass ... but its sweet tangy base mixed with thick rice noodles and chunks of delicious meat has never disappointed my taste buds

How to Eat: Add some lime juice and assorted leaves and slurp away!

Where to Eat: Bún Mắm Phan Xích Long, 11 Hoa Sứ, Phường 7, Phú Nhuận District, Hồ Chí Minh

2. Bánh Xèo (Vietnamese Stuffed Crepe)

Vietnamese cuisine is always a game changer, take for example this huge sizzling crepe made from rice flour and coconut milk. Not your typical Sunday crepe, it's then stuffed with bean sprouts, taro, carrots, cooked shrimp and thin slices of cooked pork. More than a divine combination this will make your mouth explode.

Photo by: @caoduongtamlinh

How to Eat: Take a bit of the stuffed crepe, wrap it in lettuce, dunk it in the sauce and voila! Magic!

Where to Eat: Banh Xeo 46A, 46A Dinh Cong Trang, Tan Dinh, District 1,  Ho Chi Minh

3. Bánh Canh Cua (Crab Soup)

These thick, hearty, dreamy tapioca noodles are topped with a handful of crab meat, sliced pork, quail eggs, shrimp, and crab cake. A dash of green onions and black pepper top off this drool worthy dish. Yum!

How to Eat: Add some lime and chili and through in a couple Chinese donuts and eat up!

Where to Eat: Bánh Canh Cua 87, 87 Trần Khắc Chân, Tân Định, District 1, Hồ Chí Minh

4. Bún Chả  Ha Noi (Grilled Pork & Noodles)

Originally from Hanoi, bun cha was taken by the street food gods down the coast to Saigon. Spiced pork patties and thin slices of pork belly (grilled until crispy) are served in a delightful bowl of fish sauce, sliced young papaya, carrot and garlic. Plain rice noodles and a huge basket of fresh herbs accompany one of the best meals you can get for under $2.00.

How to Eat: I personally rip up the greens and dump them and the noodles into the large bowl filled with pork and fish sauce! Don't forget to order spring rolls to throw into the mix.

Where to Eat: Hải Hội Quán - Bún Chả Hà Nội & Nem Rán, 51 Xuân Thủy, Thảo Điền, District 2, Ho Chi Minh

5. Bún Riêu Cua (Fried Crab Soup)

This noodle based soup is taken to taste bud heaven using the deliciousness of crab (crab bricks, crab body, crab everything) and the bitterness of tomatoes. Bun Riêu is a tasty mixture of sweet copper crab meat, sour tangy broth and tangled vermicelli noodles, all topped with a congealed pig’s blood cube. Yes, this special ingredient complements the dish perfectly, and is basically like eating maroon jell-o!

Photo by: @pork_lego_guy

How to Eat: Often served with chopped lettuce and spinach stalks, you just throw some of those in there and add some chili as per your liking!

Where to Eat: Bún Riêu Gánh, 4 Phan Bội Châu, Phường Bến Thành, District 1, Hồ Chí Minh

6. Bánh Tráng Nướng (Vietnamese Pizza)

If you love pizza as much as I do then you'll need to cross Vietnamese pizza off your list. Starting off as a sheet of rice paper, it's slathered in butter and grilled on a coal brazier. Minced pork, shredded pork floss, dried baby shrimp, and chopped spring onions are sprinkled on generously. Quail egg yolk and a squirt of chili sauce help to bind everything together.

Photo by: @saigonesekitchen

How to Eat: Bite in or fold it into a taco and enjoy!

Where to Eat: Bánh Tráng Nướng C002 - Chi nhánh 1,  23/49 Đinh Tiên Hoàng, phường 3, Bình Thạnh, Hồ Chí Minh

7. Bánh Mì (Vietnamese Sandwich) 

Nothing can beat the best go-to meal and most popular street food in this city! A fusion of roasted pork, rice pate, homemade butter, chillies, pickled carrots and coriander are wrapped inside a crispy French baguette. Some soy sauce and chilies are added for that extra kick!

How to Eat: No explanation needed here!

Where to Eat: Lò Bánh Mỳ Xuân Thu/ Bon Banh Mi, 27 Quốc Hương, Thảo Điền, District 2, Hồ Chí Minh OR a larger than life bánh mì with all the fillings: Bánh mì Huỳnh Hoa, 26 Lê Thị Riêng, P, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh

8. Hủ Tiếu Nam Vang (Nam Vang Noodles) 

If you are feeling daring, be sure to try out this mixture of: dried shrimp, liver, green onion, intestines, minced meat, Nam Vang noodles and pork heart! All folded together in a sweet and savoury soup how can you pass on this dish?

How to Eat: Pour the soup over the noodles and season to your liking!

Where to Eat: Hủ Tiếu Nam Vang Thành Đạt, 25 Cô Bắc, Phường Cầu Ông Lãnh, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh

9. Phở (Beef Noodle Soup)

Vietnam’s claim to culinary fame boils down to a rich, fragrant broth made from simmering beef, subsequently spiced with anise, cinnamon, onions and ginger. It's a must and if you don't know, now you phở!

How to Eat: Pick the leaves off some fresh herbs and chuck them into your soup, I like to add hoisin sauce and chili to liven it up!

Where to Eat: Phở Hoà Pasteur, 260C Pasteur, Phường 8, District 3, Hồ Chí Minh

10. Bún đậu Mắm Tôm (Fermented Shrimp Paste With Noodles)

Three main ingredients come together to make up one of my favourite dishes in Vietnam. Vermicelli noodles, golden fried tofu and the star of the show fermented shrimp paste. Although this may be the smelliest food in Vietnam, you need to leave room in your foody bucket list to try it out!

Photo by: @quynhhsiniee

How to Eat: Add a spoonful or two of sugar, lime juice and chili to the purple sauce. Mix until frothy. Dip your noodles, tofu, pork and herbs into the sauce and nibble away!

Where to Eat: Bún Đậu Mắm Tôm & Bún Chả Hà Nội - Trần Trọng Cung, 9 Trần Trọng Cung, Tân Thuận Đông, District 7, Hồ Chí Minh

There is so much more out there than just this list of 10 street foods! And to be honest narrowing it down was nearly impossible. So stop wasting time and get out on the streets of Saigon.

Tomatito Sexy Tapas Bar: The Best Spanish Food in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

It’s true what they say, that the best things come in tiny packages! Well, at least as far as tapas goes, that is. 
If you’re anything like me and enjoy crafted-to-perfection tiny parcels, which are perfectly positioned AND also edible, then Tomatito’s Sexy Tapas Bar is about to haul your taste buds to the buzzing bars of Barcelona! Think, bite size portions with explosive flavours, accompanied by a large glass of Sangria. Toto, I don’t think we’re in Ho Chi Minh City anymore. 
We can all agree that tapas allows the indecisive to thrive. And some of the best Spanish food in Ho Chi Minh City can be found right in its very core. Downtown district 1 is home to the sexiest tapas bar in the city, Tomatito, where the rustic style of Spanish flavours and festive presentations stay true to an authentic tapas experience!
If there was one place I could unapologetically order the entire menu, Tomatito has my heart. Luckily for you, I am here to offer up some of my absolute favourite dishes! 

Salmón TNT 

This tasty smoked salmon parcel is stacked on top of a honey explosive just waiting for you to sink your teeth into. Pop this little guy in your mouth and let the fireworks go off because the flavours will make your eyes roll back! This is a must try!

Pulpo a la Tomatito

Next up was the char-grilled octopus piled on top of delicately cooked Iberian ham and a heavenly confit potato. Smothered in paprika oil, this little skewer is an experience you will never forget!

El Nido

People may like chorizo, but everyone loves Iberian chorizo escorted by a quail egg baked in a miniature bun, right? What's not to love? And served in a miniature nest? That was game over for me!

Ensalada con Brie

Tossed leaves in truffle honey dressing and sprinkled with warm brie, this is how you revitalize a salad! Did I mention the brie comes fried with warm walnuts inside? Now I understand why people enjoy salads.

Entraña de Angus con Guisantes

There’s nothing like mouthwatering, juicy steak to wet the appetite! From their sexy BBQ comes a succulent Australian Angus flap steak over a bed of roasted vegetables and pea puree! There is no doubt I could have easily licked this plate clean, but I do have some manners...

Paella de Mariscos

It's difficult, if not impossible, to find a good paella in Ho Chi Minh City. So, for all of you who love Spanish cuisine (and let's face it, who wouldn’t) just close your eyes and picture a scorching cast iron dish simmering together chicken, seafood, rice, vegetables, saffron and much, much more. If you haven’t experimented with different paella’s, I think I had you at simmer.

Paella is usually referred to as Spain’s national dish, however, it is a dish that has been authentically created here in Ho Chi Minh City by Tomatito! Be sure to choose wisely as they offer up five different amazing paella fusions! From their Catalonian Black Paella mixed with cuttlefish and squid to their most famous Mixed Seafood Dry Paella, every option is muyyyyyy bien!

Crema de Limón

Finally, for dessert we dug our spoons into the sexy lemon cream, piled high with basil-lime sorbet and berries. If there was ever a time I wish I weren’t sharing a dessert, it would be now!

Spanish Flair & Live Music

Diversity breeds happiness! And in a city, which lives and breathes its food scene, trying something new is the best way to expose yourself to the diverse food culture that is Saigon!

Stepping into Tomatito took me right back to Barcelona’s weaving cobble stone streets. Eating ice cream and enjoying that European sun. The pitchers of ruby red Sangria, the perfectly hung patio lights and the eccentric décor, not to mention the cutest red polka dot scooter put you on the coast of the Mediterranean instantly! With live music every Friday and Saturday night you don’t need to jump on a plane to feel like you’re in Spain. Olé!

Essential Information

How To Get There: Located above Maison Marou on the second floor, you will find Tomatito’s outdoor stairway to the right of EC Farm Café!
Find Them: at or on Facebook and Instagram
Menu: Take a look at their Sexy Food Menu, their Express Lunch Menu and of course their Drink Menu!

If you have any questions please reach out! There's nothing more I'd love to do than help you plan your Tomatito experience!

Benaras Gardenia: A Taste of India in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Want to hear an Indian joke? Sorry, but I got naan. I'm here all day people, but let's just keep calm and curry on shall we?
What is no joke, is the burst of flavourful Indian cuisine served up at Benaras Gardenia in Ho Chi Minh City's Thao Dien, located in District 2. If you're looking for those authentic Indian aromas, this is your place as they offer up some of the best vindaloo, paneer, and curry in the city. It doesn't stop there: countless Indian street foods, tons of vegetarian and vegan options, heaps of naan, and tasty cocktails are also on what seems to be a never-ending menu!
With Saigon being a city with an endless array of food to choose from, finding genuinely good Indian food can be quite overwhelming. So, whether or not you know anything about Indian food, or you're just not sure where to find the most authentic meal that will transport your taste buds to the streets of New Delhi, then that's where Benaras Gardenia comes in hot and spicy!

My complete five course meal at Benaras Gardenia begins now. 

We started off with a Peanut Chaat, which was similar to a take on salsa … only better. This delicious street food is typically a mix of raw peanuts boiled with turmeric and tossed with chopped onions and tomatoes. Can you say yum!
After eating our way through the chaat, we started things off with a Sizzler, which combined perfectly cooked veggies with various types of marinated meats. The platter came straight from kitchen and quite literally was served to us sizzling hot on top of a cast iron pan.
Then we dipped our spoons into our Hot & Sour Chicken Soup, which we cleaned out in a matter of seconds. This generous, homely soup is what will get us all through Vietnam’s dreaded rainy season.

We're all creatures of habit, especially when it comes to food. It’s so easy to stick to the tried-and-true dishes that I know are out of this world. With Indian food, that means ordering and re-ordering the regular, butter chicken and tikka masala. But, this time I left my destiny in the hands of Benaras Gardenia’s staff and I never looked back!

Also FYI: all of Benaras’s curries are made in 80% less oil compared to many Indian recipes!

For dessert we devoured our Gulab Jamun, a classic Indian sweet (basically an Indian Timbit for my Canadians out there). Made with milk solids, sugar, rose syrup, cardamom powder and accompanied by coconut ice-cream, it was the perfect way to end an incredibly tasty night!

The Verdict 

If you're looking for a spicy bite in the city, Benaras Gardenia is the one that will transport you on a journey through the old Indian streets where the aroma of spices welcomes you and mouthwatering flavours leave you wanting more!

Essential Information

Find Them: at or on Facebook or Instagram 
Menu: Have a look at all your food options here!
If you have any questions please reach out, there's nothing more I'd love to do than help you plan your Benaras Indian experience!

Travelling Ninh Binh: The Most Beautiful Place in Vietnam?

When I used to think of myself living in Vietnam, I thought I would be living here, in the midst of a rice field in Ninh Binh petting my buffalo as I walked to work. Wrong. So wrong. Instead I have to travel (only a few hundred miles...) to find these breathtaking views from my apartment in the metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City.
Ninh Binh gives you all those quintessential Vietnam vibes you've dreamt about. This is where you get to see the true beauty of Vietnam for miles upon miles. Ninh Binh just can't be beat, simple as that. So whenever someone asks me what my favourite place in Vietnam is, this is my answer.
That being said, I am about to convince you Ninh Binh is your favourite as well...

How to Get There...

It's pretty easy and straight forward if you're already in Hanoi. Hop on one of the many buses that leaves daily. One word of advice is to book your transportation to Ninh Binh City while you're in Hanoi. Booking online only seems to be more expensive and with so many buses going to and from, your bound to find a better deal just by asking the concierge at your hotel, guesthouse or hostel to help you out. 

Remember: this is Vietnam, there is always a way to get somewhere no matter what. Trust me, we sat on plastic stools (the ones they expect you to sit on while eating pho) in the middle of a packed coach bus for an hour. Fun times, fun times. Needless to say, our squat game was not that strong, so we got off and took the public bus to Ninh Binh from Hải Phòng. And Vietnamese people don't even take the public bus.

Where to Stay...

Stay in Tam Coc Village. When people say "go to Ninh Binh" they really mean you're going to be dropped off in Ninh Binh City, but you want to stay in Tam Coc Village. Tam Coc Village has beautiful and affordable homestays, guesthouses and dorms right in the middle of the rice fields. Isn't that what you came for anyways?

We stayed at the Tam Coc Friendly Homestay and couldn't have asked for anything better. The staff were absolutely lovely and extremely helpful. They had bicycle and motorbike rentals, as well as a tiny restaurant and that's all we needed.

 What to Do...

Rent a Bike

Tam Coc itself is a sight to see. Whether you rent a bicycle or motorbike the land is for the most part flat, making it easy to get around without getting too sweaty or too exhausted. Getting lost among the small paths of the Tam Coc rice patties is the whole point of exploring this place! 

Visit Bich Dong Pagoda

Simply gorgeous, this 15th century pagoda is a set of three temples enclosed in the mountain side. Surrounded by lily pads you must cross the narrow path to explore further. How mysterious. 

Climb Hang Mua Peak

One of the most amazing sites you'll take in, is from 500 steps above Tam Coc. Once you make it to the top and take a breather from that gnarly climb, these are some of the most stunning views you'll see in Vietnam. And congrats for making it to the top!

Try Some Goat Meat

Ninh Binh’s cuisine offers up some delicious dishes made from, that's right, goat. Goat meat here is a specialty because the goats are fed naturally on the limestone mountains making it more delectable than other areas of Vietnam.

Boat Around Trang An

Known for its scenic water ways, floating along the Sao Khe River through indescribable caves and past beautiful towering limestone pillars is an unforgettable experience. 

Boat trips from Trang An usually last about 2 hours, which makes it an easy visit for the day.

Grab a Drink at Chookie's Beer Garden

An absolute fave. This is the spot to grab a beer, a burger or smoothy, all while overlooking the gorgeousness of Tam Coc. They also have some delicious vegetarian and vegan options!
The nightlife scene in Ninh Binh is nearly non-existent, but this is a good spot to chill if you're looking for something to do in the evenings.

Photo From TripAdvisor
Photo From TripAdvisor

Visit Southeast Asia's Largest Buddhist Complex

Consisting of several temples and over 500 intricately carved statues of Buddha, the Bai Dinh Pagoda is definitely a place to see for temple lovers. Quite far from Tam Coc and Ninh Binh this Buddhist complex offers more breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.

So, have I convinced you, you need to visit Ninh Binh's Tam Coc?