Monday, July 20, 2015

Ho Chi Minh City: Seafood Heaven and other Yummy Restaurants

We went on a recent business trip to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. I had no food research plans this time, as we luckily had a Malaysian friend who lived there for many years. He has planned out the whole itinerary for us, for the business visits as well as the food trip.

I had no idea that it was such a seafood heaven place, where your dreams of lobsters and big shrimps can come true. Of course, more than just the seafood, there were other discoveries. Kick-ass drip coffee - both hot or iced, tons of coconuts and cheap massages. I was indeed in heaven (in between business stuff).

Highlights of must go places:

Song Ngu : our first destination. Kick-ass Lobster porridge was unforgettable. Along with an appetizer which I could not name ... it's definitely the place to kick start the trip. WOW WOW WOW!

70 - 72 Suong Nguyet Anh Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1Ho Chi Minh City 70000Vietnam

Lobster Porridge is a must!

Coconut and their beautiful plates

One of their famous coffee chains is called PHUC LONG (I know, I know... it sounds funny when you try to say it in English).

Popular with the young people, you could see that the place looked like "Starbucks" yet half the price of Starbucks. Very serious caffeine kick after I had my Vietnamese White Coffee. Must try when in town.

Try to say it in English : PHUC LONG

Dinner time came and we went to this popular restaurant which Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt went to. It looks like a home and they serve up home-cooked-style food. It was hugely popular and was full to the brim when we came in. You need reservations to ensure you have a good seat.

The interior design of CUC GACH QUAN was very simple yet nice. In a way, there were parts which were impressive, yet some parts remained humble and rustic.

I can imagine why it's so popular with the expats in HCMC, as upstairs they have a nice lounge bar which is again rustic in design. Make sure you are wearing pants for dinner so you can go up the high staircase, if you want to see all the hidden rooms they have upstairs.


10 Dang Tat | Ward Tan Dinh, District 1Ho Chi Minh CityVietnam
Beautiful rustic design

Home-cooked style meals for sharing 
What a revelation. I could not believe my hometown brand called Jollibee was actually in Ho Chi Minh City! They have several outlets there. I grew up with this brand back in Manila. It is literally the competitor of McDonald's, and they have same style offerings, except that they have perfected it to the Filipino taste, hence they have won over the hearts of Filipinos.

I had to give it a try -- as I was missing home. However, they didn't serve gravy with the chicken, something which is impossible back home in Manila -- it is a crime not to have gravy with chicken! We also tried the pork burger -- which is decent but really not my thing.

Jollibee at Ho Chi Minh City

Pork Burger and fries -- we didn't finish it.. .just had a small bite to remind me of home

The must try stop for some serious noodle soup: Pho Hoa. Funny, as there is a popular chain in Manila called Pho Hoa. It is very different from this one -- the design of the shop is authentic and very simple -- with tons of people : both locals and tourist throng the place. The crowd starts at breakfast time and the tables are all beautifully colored with garnishes such as veggies, spouts, lime and many more. Very Instagram-friendly table, as you can see from the photo below.

I stopped eating beef long ago, so I tried the Chicken Phoa Noodle. It was awesome!

Pho Hoa

Close up of our meal at Pho Hoa

Beautiful Spring Rolls

Our local friend brought us to another interesting place which is hidden from the street. You cannot easily find this restaurant as it is tucked away inside a small street. Before you can reach it you will see a row of nail bar (local style) and as you walk in, then only you can see the signage of the restaurant.

Our local friend described the dishes as something typical that they would eat. This was a totally new discovery for me, as this was not something I was familiar with and never did associate it to Vietnamese food.

It had many dishes which were so new -- like shrimp wrapped in rice roll type, another dish which was fried clams with rice paper crackers, spicy noodle soup thing was also interesting as the noodle type is different, coconuts to go with your meal, and the small plate rice-based once again. Everything went well with some fish sauce... haha. When in Vietnam, fish sauce for everything! Haha, that's the Filipino side talking -- as Filipinos love eating stuff with dipping sauce.


116 Suong Nguyet Anh | District 1Ho Chi Minh City,Vietnam

Other photos and unforgettable meals of Ho Chi Minh City....

Flaming shrimp with coconut husk and juice

Yummy clams with ginger sauce

Random street in Ho Chi Minh City

French influence is very strong in Vietnam and they have cute Creperie places there -- wish they had more in KL!

View from my Breakfast Place - Tous Les Jours is everywhere in HCMC

Busy streets of HCMC

Trung Nguyen is one of the local coffee chains -- you won't miss it. I had a wow Vietnamese Coffee with Milk

Traditional style and very strong caffeine kick

I didn't expect it to turn out into a food trip. HCMC is impressive for seafood lovers like me. Also note that their airport is modern and clean, their people are friendly, taxi are soooo easy to get and they are all pretty decent and honest, there are some malls to shop in (with many Malaysian brands there!). We visited the expat areas, which are beautiful and modern. Very easy to travel around and tons, tons, tons of Boutique Hotels in every corner!

Easy place to visit -- whether alone or in a group. Just make sure you research the food places that you want to eat at to avoid disappointment.

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