Chowing Our Way Through Ho Chi Minh City – Our Favourite Restaurants

Skewers, Saigon

Ankit and I tend to rate cities and towns on the quality of the food that we find there. So the equation goes something like this: great food + city = amazing city. It’s the main reason why we loved Siem Reap, but took a dislike to Krabi (and why we also love Hoi An, Udaipur, Paphos etc).

According to that equation, we love Saigon. All food lovers love Saigon. There’s literally food everywhere; street food stalls can be found on every pavement of the city, and the aromas emanating from the woks and pans are just begging for you to walk over and have a taste. Great for the taste buds, not so great for the waistline.

Then there is also the incredible restaurant scene here. As long-term visitors, the great thing is that there are not only brilliant Vietnamese restaurants – there are plenty of international options, too, for when we’ve overdone the pho and caramelised fish dishes. We’ve been to a lot of places over the time we’ve been in the city, but there are a number of restaurants that we simply cannot get enough of, so I thought I’d take my aforementioned taste buds down memory lane and put this blog post together.

Quan Bui

Authentic Vietnamese cuisine from around the country is served up here in a laid-back setting; there’s also a lovely rooftop terrace that you should definitely check out during the evenings. The food is delicious and comes in generous portions – some must-try dishes include the braised baja fish in a clay pot, fried tofu with lemongrass and chilli, and the mixed platter of Quan Bui starters, which mainly consists of delicious Vietnamese spring rolls.

A whole frame of yumminess

A whole frame of yumminess

The aforementioned portions are ideal for fatties like us – real homely portions that you’d expect to find in an Indian/Cypriot household. Plus, they don’t use MSG, which is definitely a plus.

Morning glory with garlic

Morning glory with garlic

Don’t miss: braised baja fish in a clay pot.

Click here for their website.

Cuc Gach Quan 

Another great Vietnamese restaurant, Cuc Gach Quan is housed in one of the city’s most beautiful buildings. The restaurant was once a French colonial mansion that has now been restored and boasts an interior fish pond as well as other interesting decor touches, like a four-poster bed that has been transformed into a seating area. Now, onto the food: traditional, Vietnamese countryside cuisine is served here. The menu is huge and overwhelming, but the waiters are more than happy to make their suggestions. This is also an organic restaurant, meaning that they only serve fertiliser-free rice and preservative-free veggies and meat.

Dishes at Cuc Gach Quan

Some suggestions of things to try: the beef sautéed with lemongrass and chilli is one of my favourite dishes, while Ankit loves the tofu variant of this. Their fresh spring rolls are also among the best we’ve munched on in the city.

Oh and for all you celebrity voyeurs out there – Brad and Ang dined here when they were in town.

Don’t miss: beef sautéed with lemongrass and chilli.

Click here for their website.

Saffron 

One night, we had reached our limit. We could no longer stomach the idea of going out for Vietnamese food. We both love the cuisine but every so often we simply crave a taste of something from closer to home. My home in this case. I really needed a bite of something European. We did a bit of research and Saffron kept getting mentioned as a great place for those non-Vietnamese cravings. So we got as dressed up as we could given our wardrobe restrictions and headed out.

Lamb kofta

Lamb kofta

The restaurant is very small but what it lacks in size it makes up for in atmosphere. Usually I absolutely hate it when tables are packed together but in this place it actually works; the gentle hum of other diners adds to the ambiance. You’re greated with a free glass of Prosecco each – yes, I was sold – as well as a generous bread basket and various dips.

Greek salad at Saffron

Greek salad in Saffron

The menu encompasses Middle Eastern, North African, Greek, Italian, Spanish and southern French Mediterranean food, which means there really is something for everyone here. Greek selections include pork souvlaki, moussaka and calamari. While not cheap, the portions and tastinness more than justify the price. We’d recommend Saffron to anyone who’s in town and looking for a special place to have some great Mediterranean food.

Don’t miss: the chicken shish taook. Also, if you’re craving a Greek salad like I was, then this is the place to have one – it was delicious! 

Click here for their website.

Ganesh 

I’ve been with Ankit for two and a half years now, which means that whenever I enter an Indian restaurant I instantly feel like I’m at home. Hence, we were very happy to find that our curry cravings are well catered for in Saigon at a place called Ganesh. The restaurant serves up hearty portions of Indian food for reasonable prices. The setting isn’t anything special, but the food more than makes up for the lack of an aesthetically-pleasing setting. Ganesh has both north and south Indian specialties, but the northern dishes are definitely their strength.

Some of the dishes we’ve made our way through and loved include the Ganesh fish masala (Ankit’s favourite) – chunky fish cubes cooked with garden peas in a deliciously thick gravy; the paneer butter masala; palak paneer; and Ganesh makhani daal.

The masala chai – the most beautiful way to round off any meal –  is also one of the best in town.

Don’t miss: Ganesh fish masala.

Click here for their website.

Skewers

Ankit first took me here for Valentine’s Day this year and we were mightily impressed by the quality of the food. The menu is Mediterranean – think grilled meats, pastas and fresh salads. The setting is warm and smart – all exposed brick walls and dim, inviting lighting.

Bruschetta

Bruschetta

We absolutely love the pastas here, which is saying something – we barely ever eat pasta. We were also so happy to see baba ghanoush on the menu, as we haven’t had much Arabic food since we left Dubai. The service at Skewers also surpasses that of most places we’ve dined in over the months that we’ve been here.

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Spicy garlic shrimp pasta at Skewers

Don’t miss: spicy garlic shrimp pasta 

Click here for their website.


What are your favourite restaurants in Saigon?


 

  • when we went to Cuc Gach Quan, I was absolutely floored! We spent 6 weeks in Vietnam and this was the best “western” style restaurant we ate at. Heck, this is the best proper restaurant Vietnamese food I’ve had ever, and definitely makes my top 10 restaurant meals in all life. 🙂

    • Andrea

      It’s delicious, isn’t it? We really love that place.