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.
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.
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.
With a prime position above Le Thanh Ton, one of Saigon’s premier shopping streets, this irrepressibly cute tearoom with grandmother’s-parlor décor and tasty cakes and cappuccinos is a huge hit, especially with Japanese tourists.
Come in the early morning or late afternoon (after the second baking) and the bread is still warm. Phuong wraps her creations in newspaper if you want them to go.
In Vietnam, restaurants with incandescent lighting generally serve dull food, while fluorescent-lit joints with toilet-paper dispensers for napkins turn out the tastiest cooking.
Pho, Vietnam’s national dish—a rich beef consommé spiked with clove, star anise, and ginger and laced with noodles and fresh basil and cilantro—gets the fast-food treatment at this popular chain, with surprisingly inspired results. Follow the Vietnamese and go for breakfast.
Americans have gone crazy for this ingenious French-Vietnamese sandwich, but you haven’t really tasted banh mi until you’ve tracked down the venerated Gai Banh Mi cart in Ho Chi Minh City’s First District.
Housed in a former furniture store, the I-Box Café is a casually chic restaurant serving a wide variety of
Into an outsize wok the chef tosses a fistful of bean sprouts, pork, shrimp, and/or mushrooms, then pours in a slick of marigold-yellow batter, rich with coconut milk. The resulting crêpe is the size of a Monopoly board—so large it overwhelms the table, let alone the plate.
This rough-and-tumble joint with metal tables and plastic chairs serves the very best crab in town.