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Pho Thai Son, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam,

3 Places to Eat in Central Saigon

Saigon is a metropolis in southern Vietnam with over 7 million people; some say there are upwards of 9 million in the area. Although often referred by its present-day name of Ho Chi Minh City, many still call the place by its old name of Saigon.

A big attraction in a short trip is always about the food. The out-of-this-world traffic points to everybody in a big hurry on the go, and it seems the entire population is on their motorbikes. This also suggests everybody is hungry, all the time.

Naturally, there are many places, stalls, and street-side carts, but if you’d like to sit down under cover and see what others are eating, you might give these three places in central Saigon a try.

1.   Pho Thai Son

Everything in the pho here points to the cow. There’s long-simmered beef broth with herbs, thin rice noodle, thinly sliced beef, beef ball, beef tripe, beef marrow, chili peppers, fresh basil & cilantro. You may be the only non-resident dining here, and that’s because people know this is superb stuff. A bowl of pho costs between 30 and 40 thousand VND, or about $1.5 to $2 USD. If you’re daring, the cow’s blood soup is smooth, savory, and delicious.

Pho Thai Son, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam,

Pho, side condiments

Pho Thai Son, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam,

Pho, delicious contents

Pho Thai Son, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam,

Cow’s blood soup

2.   Xoi Ga Number One

At about 5pm, this humble “hole-in-the-wall” with cold metal chrome tables and cheap plastic seating is frequented by a wave of residents who want a bite after work. Many stop to sip on a cold beer, accompanied by a snack of summer rolls, a small bowl of noodles, and/or a light salad.

Wrapped in thin translucent rice-flour skins, summer rolls are made on the spot with fresh ingredients. I get one roll with Vietnamese sausage, dried shrimp, manioc, and vermicelli; and a second roll with pork, shrimp, lettuce, cilantro, and vermicelli. Each roll has its own dipping sauce. The salad consists of deep-fried beef strips on a bed of papaya; the thinly chopped papaya looks like vermicelli from afar.

Xoi Ga Number One, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam,

Summer rice-paper rolls with Vietnamese sausage, dried shrimp, manioc, rice vermicelli

Xoi Ga Number One, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam,

Summer rice-paper rolls with fresh shrimp, pork, rice vermicelli

Xoi Ga Number One, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam,

Sweet and savory salad of shaved papaya and blackened beef

3.   Nhu’ Lan

Nhu’ Lan occupies a large chunk of the northwest corner of Ham Nghi and Ho Tung Mau. Among a wide variety of food, shoppers can pick up fresh bread, fresh barbecued or roasted meat. For hungry customers, they can also dine modestly and sit with others at long tables. The noodles are good and filling; the banh mi is very good; the fruit smoothies are cool, smooth, and delicious. You will not be able to stop at one of anything, and I swear by the orange-strawberry-mango smoothie … or the orange-strawberry-pineapple smoothie …

There are three kinds of ingredients to keep in mind at Nhu’ Lan: fresh, fresh, and fresh.

Nhu Lan, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon,

Nhu’ Lan

Nhu Lan, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon,

Banh Mi

Nhu Lan, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon,

Fruit smoothie (left); noodle with fried beef, sweet-sour sauce (centre, right)

Disclosure: No Connection, Unpaid, My Own Opinions. I have not received any compensation for writing this content and I have no material connection to the places mentioned above. I made all of the above photos with a 4th-generation iPod Touch on 25 and 27 June 2012. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as

4 Responses to “3 Places to Eat in Central Saigon”

    • fotoeins

      Hi and thanks, Jen! I think you should go to Vietnam, too. The great thing is the abundance of places to eat – I am completely understating the case! I feel like I only got a brief overview of the sights in Saigon and the Mekong delta, and a brief taste of all the food that’s available. I *must* come back to Vietnam – I think a period of a few weeks is required to cover the country.


  1. Nancie M

    I live close to a Pho restaurant that I want try once the weather gets a bit cooler. I had some Vietnamese spring rolls this past weekend at an event that I attended. They were so good. Yours look delicious!

    Liked by 1 person

    • fotoeins

      Hi, Nancie. I look back at this post, and two things happen: I have very fond memories of my brief time in Saigon, and I get very hungry. No matter what, freshly made pho with fresh ingredients as well as fresh summer rolls (non-fried) are some of the simplest yet tastiest food one will encounter. 🙂 Thanks for reading and for your comment!


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