Restaurants in Vietnam
Cuisine is just as much a part of the Vietnam experience as culture, history, and nature—and, as with everything else, the style of restaurants in Vietnam varies between regions. In the north, for example, you'll find dishes that feature black pepper over chilies and lots of freshwater fish, crabs and prawns, while in the south, a preference for sweeter flavors means you'll taste lots of coconut milk and sugar in savory dishes.
In cities like Hanoi and Saigon, you'll find plenty of street side cafes at which you can join locals for bowls of noodle soup, stir-fry and rice, as well as high-end restaurants serving French Colonial-inspired fare. At the Metropole Hanoi, you'll find locals and guests alike enjoying the refined French dishes at Le Beaulieu, the Italian-Mediterranean menu at Angelina, and the upscale Vietnamese fare at Spices Garden. One of the trendiest cities for cuisine is Hoi An, where you can sample a wide array of creatively-prepared street food specialties at Morning Glory, or splurge at one of celebrity chef Duc Tran's three eateries, including the riverside Mango Mango.
A Ho Chi Minh City institution, Quan An Ngon employs ex-street vendors, who prepare a selection of traditional, regional fare.
Northern Vietnam’s signature seafood dish takes a star turn at this Old Quarter canteen. Firm white snakehead fish is marinated in galangal, shrimp paste, and turmeric, then sautéed at your table over a charcoal burner and served with vermicelli noodles, fish sauce, and a mountain of dill.
Open 24 hours and usually packed for nearly all of them, Nhu Lan is one of the city’s most accomplished bakeries—but the real draw are the banh mi thit paté.
Run by Bien Nguyen, a 30-year-old Australian Viet Kieu, this high-priced upstart is both a see-and-be-seen nightspot (serving well-made cocktails at the street-level bar) and a high-end restaurant with ambitious, mostly assured nouvelle Vietnamese cooking.
Previously located downtown, this French-Italian restaurant moved to a more intimate space inside a restored villa in 2008.
For 13 years, Monday through Saturday, the Lunch Lady has set up shop on a patch of pavement on Hoang Sa Street near the zoo—working from 11 a.m. until she runs out of food, which happens quickly.
In the leafy enclave of Kim Long, lunch at this open-air canteen, which serves two dishes only: banh uot thit nuong and bun thit nuong. The former, dim sum–like ravioli stuffed with grilled pork, are terrific.
Conveniently located on Lam Son Square near the Caravelle Hotel, in a secluded courtyard beside a German-style brewhouse, this casual coffeehouse (still referred to as the ç) serves the best lattes in town.
A veritable fantasia of white leather and Lucite copped from Philippe Starck, this all-day café serves good lattes and smoothies with a lounge-y soundtrack, from early morning to late at night.