I love this city! As soon as we landed I had arranged for us to be taken on a food tour around Ho Chi Minh, what better way to get to know the area and try out all of the local delicacies and street food from the best stalls. We did this tour from Airbnb Experiences and its also available to do via motorbike where you cover a larger area. We booked the walking tour, which takes you into the depths of District 3, the entire place is like a maze of alleys with lots of food stalls and random markets including a stunning flower market. Oh, I was taught how to fold a lotus flower here and despite what the kind lady said on the stall … it was pretty terrible. Anyway, this tour bought us delights such as Banh Xeo (which we would later make in Hoi An), a crispy rice flour pancake filled with all kinds of goodness, fresh seafood in the form of crispy garlic scallops (they are so tiny here!) and the best thing that was saved till last …. Vietnamese pizza! On a sesame seed rice paper base, the lady on the stall places this base on the grill, and creates an egg mixture with all sorts of delicious goodies (sweetcorn, shrimp, chillies, herbs) and places it on top of the rice paper stirring it as it cooks.. finally topping it with a drizzle of chilli sauce and melted cream cheese … we washed this down with a large glass of fresh sugar cane flavoured with a little fresh kumquat. Perfect ending to our first evening!
Over the days we spent in Ho Chi Minh City, going to the War Museum and the Opera House we decided to check out some other placed which had been recommended to us. My husband loves a good pizza, I’m pretty sure if he had to live off one type of food forever it would definitely be pizza! So it would be totally wrong not to visit Vietnam’s most famous pizza chain, Pizza 4P’s. There I discovered some crazy pizza combinations (Japanese HotPot Pizza anyone?) but in the end I chose Camembert and Ham just out of curiosity… I have never thought about putting Camembert on a pizza – and it was damn good!
Also, they have an absolutely fabulous burrata salad which I could have totally finished on my own, but most of it was stolen by the hubs :(. Its ok though, he more than totally made up for it by taking me to DOSH Donuts in Ho Chi Minh’s hipster 42 Nguyen Hue. Once an apartment building now converted into a maze of clothing shops, cafes, restaurants and bars – this is one place you want to check off your bucket list. The donuts here are just incredible, some even with syringes full of vanilla cream, syrups and all sorts of sugary goodness. Normally I would totally go for a salted caramel or something appley but this day… it was the peach/raspberry combination that was calling to me and it was just delicious!
I went vegan earlier this year for a while, and being an avid meater I thought it was going to be really difficult but I really enjoyed it! It really opened me up to so many other new ingredients and ways to prepare food that I wouldn’t have normally thought of. As Vietnam is a mainly Buddhist country, I assumed they would have some incredible vegan/vegetarian restaurants (there are literally hundreds!) and this one was one of our faves, Hum Vegetarian Cafe & Restaurant in District 1. The menu for this place was detailed and listed the benefits of each dish, even the cocktails, which I thought was actually really helpful! I’ve attached pictures of some of favourite dishes from this restaurant bar one, the Tom Yam soup, I mean, I am a huge fan of hot and sour things but this just blew me away! My mouth is watering just thinking about it! The lotus root crisps were amazing, I’ve never tried them before but hey I guess if you chuck anything in cheese it tastes amazing eh? The dessert, despite it being super simple was definitely my favourite dessert ever in Vietnam… toddy palm in cold coconut milk. Sweet and soft toddy palm with the cool creaminess of sweet coconut milk in each mouthful – seriously delicious!
We went to a couple of other restaurants whilst we we were there, one being Propaganda restaurant. A place filled with artwork representing its namesake, serving local delicacies like Banh Xeo and a duck curry with their own cheeky twist. Then there’s Den Long, this was also recommended to us by a friend. They also serve local dishes, my faves being the caramelized chicken with lemongrass and the crunchy spring rolls. They also have an extensive soft drink menu, lots of spritzers and fresh herb and fruit juices which were incredible – I highly recommend trying them out! The waiters are super friendly and if they know you are a tourist they will come and give you a handwritten note of some local restaurants/bars to try, dishes to try, places to visit and some helpful phrases – talk about service!
We also hit up a few bars, hidden gems like Snuffbox. A speakeasy straight out of the 1920’s with a cool, hipster crowd and great dirty martinis. Social Club, on the roof of the Hotel Des Arts (a seriously cool hotel!), lavishly decorated this seems to be the place where Saigon’s elite head for pre-drinks, fabulous views, delicious gin cocktails – what more could you want? We paid a visit to Bui Vien walking street… not for those who enjoy some peace and quiet! Bar after bar after bar fills the street with blaring music, dodging the chairs and tables scattered all across the street where you try to avoid getting hit by the dried squid trolleys wheeled around by the locals. BUT – great vibes, great atmosphere and drinks are cheaper here than anywhere else! Or if you feel like splashing the cash, head on over to Chill Skybar, a mere stones throw away from Bui Vien. Some of the best views over Saigon can be seen from here if you’re not too busy dancing to the great music (comm r’n’b) or chugging down their hefty gin cocktails – open till late, I guarantee you’ll be the last to leave.