Vietnam has the most amazing food, with so many fresh flavors, and far too many restaurants to try even if you had all year. We ate out 2 meals a day (as breakfast was often included in our hotel/hostel) so though I would share my favorite cafes and restaurants that I discovered during our trip.
Bia Hơi, 97 Phung Hung, 0912 475 252.
Side of the road Vietnamese restaurant, with an enormous menu, all in Vietnamese. Very cheap (dishes less than 50,000, but huge servings and probably one of our best meals there). Tap beer, fresh food, and a very friendly owner. His friend was the one who helped us order food on our first day in Hanoi (which was also our first day in Vietnam!) as we did not recognize a single thing on the menu. We ate mỳ sào (fried noodles), cơm zang (fried rice) and dâu phu zań (deep fried tofu).
House of Nem (“Nem n Nem”) 134 Doc Ngu, Ba Dinh or 43 Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung, website here.
We were taken here by two locals we met in Hanoi. I don’t know the Vietnamese names of what we ordered, but the menu was huge, lots of choice of spring rolls (nem), dim sum, sushi and other delights. The spring rolls came with noodles and a sweet and sour dipping sauce, alongside herbs, bean sprouts and chili and lime. The small fried spring rolls filled with a sweet glutinous rice was really different, a great thing to try.
A cafe that I don’t know the name of opposite 91C Hang Ma Street, with little wicker looking (but actually plastic) chairs and tables on the side of the road.
Great coffee and a huge range of drinks. Friendly owner. Try the strawberry iced tea for only 15,000 dong!
Quran An Ngon, 18 Phan Boi Chau, Hoan Kiem District, website here.
We didn’t end up eating here as misplaced the business card whilst in Hanoi, but met a Canadian woman who went with locals and raved about it. On my list for next time!
Hồng Mai, 110 Dinh Tien Hoang (one street over from the east citadel gate).
Hồng Mai serves one thing, dặc sản huế and bánh khoái. Make your own spring rolls with lots of fresh ingredients. A local restaurant with little plastic chairs and tables. Very little English spoken but it is ok because there is no menu, you are jut served food! See my post here for photos – we had to ask what to do, as were completely confused. So might pay to know what to do before you arrive!!
Confetti Restaurant and Art Gallery, 01 Chu Van An Street.
Very cute restaurant, quite upscale but without the high prices. Beautiful art on the wall, pink/purple themed restaurant. Food very well presented and the waiter was very friendly and helpful, and spoke a lot of English. Can recommend the banh nam (noodle, pork and shrimp wrapped and steamed in banana leaf).
Bale Well, 45/51 Tran Hung Dao Street (down a small alleyway).
Super busy with locals and tourists alike eating. Wonderful friendly staff. Quick and delicious food. Like the restaurant in Hue, you make your own spring rolls, but with more fillings, that are replenished throughout the meal. They specialize in grilled pork satay (nem nuong), rice pancakes (banh xeo), spring rolls (ram cuõń) and grilled pork (thit nuong), all of which act as rice paper roll fillings. Cheap and tasty!
My Le, restaurant number 4 on Cua Dai Beach
Cheapest restaurant on the beach and best value for money. Great flavors, huge portions and lots of choice. The grilled butter fish in banana leaf and chili lemongrass clams were delicious.
Green Bamboo Cooking School, website here
A great day out, with a market tour, followed by cooking 1 meal each (minimum 4 dishes per day). Huge selection of dishes. I wrote about my experience here.
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
Pho 2000, 1-3 Phan Chu Trinh Street, 0pposite the Ben Thanh Market, website here.
Bill Clinton ate here when he was President, and there is a photo of him and the staff up on the wall. They do pho, fried noodles and spring rolls, and the pho is the best I have eaten in the country. The pho ga (chicken pho) was huge (despite ordering the small serving size) and had a lot of chicken pieces in it. Fresh and hot, and only 50,000 for a bowl.
Sozo, 176 D Bui Vien, Phan Ngu Lao Area, website here
This cafe supports disadvantaged people and their families, by hiring people from poor families, and donating profits to charity. They have a nice selection of counter food (cakes, muffins, cookies etc) and a Vietnamese and Western menu. I had a bagel and a Vietnamese coffee, which was 30,000 each. The bagel even came with NZ Anchor Butter. A month into Asia, real butter is one of the most amazing things to come across.