HOME > Chowhound > China & Southeast Asia >
Do you create unique foods? Share your adventure
TELL US

saigon

e
erly Jan 6, 2007 06:07 PM

My list
Please help me eliminate, as it is our first time in Vietnam, and these are just suggested restaurants which seemed to be recommended by more than one person:

Temple Club
Ngons Nu Vien
Nguyen Du
Nam Phan
Vuon Pho
Square
Nam Bo
Nam Giao
Com Nieu Sa.Gon

Would love to have some input?
We will be in Saigon for one week, and would appreciate feedback.
Going with a husband who will not eat streetfood, and yes I am aware that that is where some of the best food is to be had, but..after being married more years than most of your ages, I will go along with it, and cheat for lunch.
Thanks

  1. j
    jwobkk Jan 11, 2007 10:21 PM

    Definitely visit Ngon.

    Other places to consider:

    Pho 24
    Pho Cao Van
    Cha Ca La Vuong
    Quan 94

    1. e
      erly Jan 15, 2007 05:16 AM

      Went to Ngon, and was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food.
      I had heard that it is a must "see", but good not special food.
      We were fortunate, as we we were seated in their air conditioned area.
      This consists of a large hose blowing cold steam from above.
      It was delighful.
      We had the shrimp on sugarcane, which was served with herbs rice wrappers and vermicelli.
      We made our own rolls. eally really good!
      Shrimp steamed in coconut milk served with a light spice sauce and a salt-pepper lime dip.
      This is the best dish we have eaten in Saigon.
      Very good and sweet steamed clams.
      Sticky rice.
      Stir fried mixed vegetables, very tasty
      We ended with disaster for us but great for some.
      I prefer a clear pho, but we experimented and ordered (Bun Mam)
      I think I spelled it correctly, but am not sure.
      Anyway this is a favourite of many, but we didn't care for the shrimp paste thick soup.
      Our bill including two beers was under $15.
      Great fun place.
      Loved watching the various vendors working inside.
      The place itself is very attractive.
      Might go back.
      Last night we ate at the Hue restaurant Ngu Vien, which has had the best reviews everywhere. Also very inexpensive.
      They are famous for their rice in Lotus leaf steamed in coconut milk with bits of things inside.
      It was a yawn.
      Reminded me of Canadian fried rice, but not as tasty.
      The rest of the food was good, but not as good by far as Ngon.
      Although not really hungry for lunch, are trying pho 24, and will report back.
      Of the threee restaurants you suggested, which is the absolute best, regardless of price?
      Thanks

      1. j
        jwobkk Jan 15, 2007 11:40 AM

        Looking forward to the report on Pho 24. Seek out Cha Ca La Vuong. I ate at the original in Hanoi and it was terrific. It has been around for over 100 years. According the the gentleman who writes the Noodlepie.com blog, the Saigon branch is even better. If this is true it must be really something special. Check out Noodlepie.com for further information. Would love to hear about Anthony Bourdain's favorite restaruant Com Nieu SaGon.

        1. e
          erly Jan 15, 2007 10:00 PM

          Well,
          had lunch at pho 24 and the pho was delicious.
          We had the everything Pho.
          Rich stock, and everything tender.
          The biggest difference for me was the soft yet firm texture of the noodles.
          Much better than at home.
          The chili dip was just right, and not fiery.
          The thick soy based dip was also a winner.
          For heat they has green and red chillies.
          Lots of scallions, basil beansprouts and saw.

          Last night we ate at Bourdain's favourite Com Nieu DaGon.
          Ordered the banana blossom salad.
          It was just ok. and the chicken was very tough.
          Not a winner.
          The clams were devine, and stir fried with scallions.
          Surprisingly shelled, and plentiful.
          Had the soft shell clams fried, and we had the (can't remember if they called them swimming or running crabs) as they have several kinds.
          This dish was perfect.Sprinkled with chili pepper and herbs.
          Hubbie cleaned every crumb from the plate. Best soft shells we have ever eaten, and generous portion. Served with the wonderful salt pepper lime.
          The clay pot rice tossed around the room was a nice gimmicky touch, but nothing special.
          We finished our meal with two giant prawns, in fact the largest I have ever seen.
          They were good, but not special. No comparison to Somboon in Bangkok for flavour.
          We didn't like the ambience, as staff were disinterested, and not very smiley.
          It is worth the trip for the crab and clams, as they were standout dishes.
          I guess they save their smiles for Bourdain.
          Having said that they went out of their way to get a cab for us as the area is fairly dark.
          Possibly will try Cha Cha to-night
          Thanks

          1 Reply
          1. re: erly
            j
            jwobkk Jan 15, 2007 10:57 PM

            Excellent report on Pho 24 and glad you enjoyed it. Hope you have time to visit Cha Ca La Vong. Since you love crab so much you might want to seek out Quan 94, they specialize in crab items. Address 94 Dinh Tien Hoang Street (District 1). Keep the reports flowing, I'm jealous here in New York City.

          2. e
            erly Jan 15, 2007 10:04 PM

            sorry typo that was soft shelled crab

            1. j
              jwobkk Jan 15, 2007 10:59 PM

              See the link for info on Quan 94.

              http://www.noodlepie.com/2004/04/cool...

              1. j
                jwobkk Jan 16, 2007 08:29 PM

                Another can't miss in Sai Gon is Trung Nguyen coffee. Get an iced coffee with condensed milk. Nothing is better!

                1. e
                  erly Jan 20, 2007 05:20 AM

                  Went to cha ca la, and unfortunately despite calling ahead they were out of both fishes, and only a catfish substitute.
                  I don't like catfish, and since they are a one dish restaurant, we left.
                  So no report.
                  Last night Nam Phan
                  Started out well, in beautiful garden setting.
                  Ordered the viet. pancakes, which had a rice flour texture, and filled with chopped pork shrimp, herbs and scallions.
                  Vey good.
                  Sugar cane shrimp. Very good but not as good as Ngon. Spring rolls, good.
                  Mains not good, especially the sea bass in soya.
                  Tasted like a chunk of rubber.
                  However, everyone elses food around us looked really good, so probably just ordered the wrong dishes.
                  We have had just the opposite experience in Chiang Mai, meal delivered in error to our table looked like poor quality chinese take-out. When our meal came it was outstanding.
                  Sorry for typo's. Have a sticky key on my laptop, and it is playing havoc with my typing.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: erly
                    j
                    jwobkk Jan 22, 2007 05:47 PM

                    How is the eating going in Chiang Mai? Do pass along any outstanding spots.

                  2. e
                    erly Jan 23, 2007 08:53 AM

                    had a couple of excellent meals in Chaing Mai.
                    Antique house was an example of ordering the right things.
                    Everything we ordered was great.
                    Their spring rolls were the best so far.
                    Scampi in a very delicate yellow coconut curry.
                    The one dish that really stood out was the fried boneless fish.
                    It was boned restuffed, by what tasted like more solid fish, with some lovely herbs.
                    Servie in a circular pattern and cut into succulent circles.
                    No fuss, and so crispy, yet moist and flavourful on the inside.
                    Best fish dish so far on this trip.
                    We licked up every last morsel on the plate.
                    We ate at Home, and it was fusion continenntal thai.
                    My scampi on black rice noodles was a real winner in appearance as well as taste.
                    But if for no other reason, this restaurant is a must for their creme brule (which is not listed on the menu).
                    Two pots, one perfectly flamed, and just the right temperature (I hate restaurants that chill it).
                    The second was topped with fresh rasberry pure, and a few rasberies inside.
                    This is the very best!!!!!!
                    Ate at Riverside, as we were told it is an institution, and didn't expect much.
                    Sat by the lake, and although the food wasn't spectacular, it was very good.
                    Better than anything we have in Torronto.
                    I would return because it is a very enjoyable evening.
                    Ate some very good oysters one evening at the night market,
                    My husband who won't touch street food loved the stalls there because they were spotless.
                    Our last meal was at Whole Earth, because it was next door to our hotel Yaang Com Village
                    Ate Indian, and it was quite decent.
                    All in all didn't have a bad meal in Chiang Mai..

                    1. t
                      topcatwawa Jan 29, 2007 10:04 AM

                      One of the best meals we had in Saigon was at Hoi An – 11 Le Thanh Ton St. 08/823-7694, email: hoian.hcm@hcm.fpt.vn

                      We had one of their tasting menus; the food and service were wonderful. Reservation is highly recommended.

                      1. singleguychef Feb 5, 2007 08:21 AM

                        Hi Erly

                        Have you already gone to Saigon? I didn't notice you say when you'll be there. I just came back from Saigon a week ago and just warning you, it's hot and humid, so be prepared for that. Because of the heat, I ended up eating at the nicer restaurants with air conditioning instead of a lot of the street food. I've been posting some of my reports on my food blog, so check that out (I'm posting reports on Saigon every Sunday and Monday for the next few weeks, I have so many reports to go!) at http://singleguychef.blogspot.com

                        But as a quick review, I have to say you definitely should go to Quan An Ngon (which is a block from the Reunificiation Palace). I'm posting my report on them later tonight. It has great fresh food and is very popular with the locals even though it's decor is pretty nice for a local destination. The Temple Club is a beautiful restaurant and very hip. It's definitely a reasonably priced restaurant for the quality. But if you don't want to sit down for a whole meal, definitely go for drinks at the bar. It's a cool hangout.

                        I also really liked the local dive I mentioned in this past weekend's posting, called Bo Bun Thanh. Check it out on my blog. Great noodles.

                        I ate at Bun Viet near the end of my trip and they're famous for their bun noodles. It's nice and thin, so very light. Also nice decor. It's a couple of blocks from the War Remnant museum. (Sorry I don't have addresses handy. I can post them later when I find my crib notes.) Wrap and Roll near the tourist area close to Dong Khoi street in District 1 has THE best lychee smoothie. I wouldn't have a full meal there, but it's a fun afternoon spot to grab some spring rolls and a smoothie. Anyway, this might all be too late for your trip, but maybe others visiting Saigon might find my reports helpful on my blog.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: singleguychef
                          e
                          erly Feb 7, 2007 12:42 PM

                          Thanks,
                          We are home now, but are already planning next year, so I will check out your site.
                          Didn't have a bad meal while we were there.
                          P.S. although it is "hip", we don't eat street food.
                          Did last year in Bangkok, because I was told that a certain chicken stall was a must, and was sick for 24 hrs.
                          Did eat at both restaurants mentioned by you, Temple Club and Quan An Ngon and highly recommend them as well.

                          1. re: erly
                            singleguychef Feb 7, 2007 02:46 PM

                            Welcome back Erly. Yep, you can't go wrong with eating in Vietnam. I think it's because Vietnamese broth is so much better than any other broths around the world. And in general, their cooking uses less soy sauce and more fish sauce, so to me it feels lighter and fresher when eating. But I have to say the highlight is also how CHEAP the food is. I didn't eat any street food too and stayed mostly with restaurants, and even then I think the most expensive meal I had was $27, and that was my final dinner when I went to Nam Phan. I think you said you were going there too huh? Nice decor but a bit snotty with the service. Food was good, of course. On average I spent between $6-7 for dinners.

                        Show Hidden Posts