Being such a vibrant metropolitan city, it’s no surprise that Ho Chi Minh City offer all sorts of exciting flavours from all around the country, from universal staples such as phở and sidewalk coffee to regional specialties such as Hue-style beef noodles. That of course doesn’t mean the city comes up short when it comes to local delicacies, so without further ado we shall present to you the five must-try signature dishes in this southern town.
Cu Chi Beef Rolls
A variation of the ever-popular fresh spring rolls, this dish puts a spin on the original by replacing stir-fried beef brisket with thinly sliced beef trotters, accompanied by signature Southern-style shrimp dipping sauce and a boatload of greens. The fried beef variation is offered too and often served on scorched rice.
Where: While many downtown eateries do offer this, none can be compared to that found in its origin Cu Chi, same as the historical site Cu Chi tunnels, at Bò Tơ Xuân Đào along National Highway no. 22.
Crushed Cutlet Rice
The standard set lunch option in HCMC – similar to how grilled pork noodles is the signature of Hanoi – it features crushed rice (once relegated as food for the poor since broken grains are not considered premium) together with pickles and a variety of meaty mains: pick from pork, chicken, beef or lamb, grilled or fried, belly or ribs and so on – you can definitely have it your way whichever.
Where: Cơm Tấm Ba Ghiền, 84 Dang Van Ngu Str. Order your fix with a glass of thirst-quenching iced green tea or trà đá for the ultimate authentic Saigonese experience.
A well-loved delicacy coming from the coastal districts, shellfish is an umbrella term referring to the huge variety of mollusc dishes from steamed lemongrass clams, cheese baked snails to charcoal grilled oysters that appeal to both street-style foodies and urbane epicureans alike. Truly an essential part of HCMC’s snacking culture, it goes especially well with a cold beer brew on the side of the street.
Where: Ốc Đào, 132 Nguyen Thai Hoc Str. Opens nightly.
Keo Fish Hotpot
A fusion dish bearing Thai and Chinese influences, this hotpot combines freshwater kèo fish with a sour soup base and noodles or rice, topped off with a very generous serving of assorted greens. Together with another variant that is the fish sauce hotpot, it has now evolved into a staple of Southern Mekong cuisine.
Where: No. 4 Nguyen Thi Dieu Str., or 87 Ba Huyen Thanh Quan Str.
Nam Vang-style Hu Tieu Noodles
Another fusion fare, this time combining Chinese yellow noodles with Cambodian influences (hence the Nam Vang part, which refers to the capital Phnom Penh), hủ tiếu is also another signature must-try dish, remarkable for its fragrant and sweet minced pork broth and huge toppings variations from shrimp to quail eggs.
Where: 84 Ho Thi Ky. Also, most stalls also offer many other noodles varieties such as Quang-style noodles, wanton noodles and the likes.