Unique Ho Chi Minh restaurants

A highlight of any travel for The Fairlie Entourage is dining at a variety of establishments. From local restaurants through to fine dining, we like to mix it up to try out the best a city or town has to offer. In this post, I round-up just some of the eating experiences we had in Saigon. Eleven unique Ho Chi Minh restaurants, each quite different.

Great HCMC restaurants: www.feetonforeignlands.com

Temple Club

Great HCMC Restaurants: www.feetonforeignlands.com
Address: 29-31 Ton That Thiep Street, District 1
Neighborhood: District 1
Cuisine: Fusion Asian
Website: www.templeclub.com.vn
Phone: +84 8 3829 9244

The Temple Club is named because it was once a guest house for visitors to the Hindu temple which is directly across Ton That Thiep Street, and it is one of our HCMC favourite haunts. In fact, we headed straight there for lunch on our first day in Saigon on this visit. The dining rooms, with their exposed brick walls, tiled floors and velvet upholstered seats conjure images of a bygone Saigon. And it’s easy to imagine yourself in the Indochina era as you sink into one of the comfy sofas in the rear lounge. The cuisine reflects the broad range of cultural influences on Vietnamese food, and the service is attentive.

Noir. Dining in the Dark

Great HCMC Restaurants: www.feetonforeignlands.com
Address: Lane 178 Hai Ba Trung . Dakao
Neighborhood: District 1
Cuisine: Choice of Western or Eastern 3-course set menu
Website: www.noirdininginthedark.com
Phone: +84 8 6263 2525

I’ve already posted about our experiences at Noir, Dining in the Dark. (Click on the link for the full description.) I won’t repeat myself too much other than to say that this is a totally unique experience which should not be missed by any visitors to Saigon! The Noir experience sees diners being led into a pitch black dining room by blind or visually impaired staff who have been trained to impeccably aid and serve their guests. We chose to experience the ‘Western’ menu…and were a bit surprised by our experience!

Hoa Tuc

Great HCMC Restaurants: www.feetonforeignlands.com
Address: 74/7 Hai Ba Trung, District 1
Neighborhood: District 1
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Website: http://www.hoatuc.com/
Phone: +84 8 3825 1676

Located in a former opium refinery, Hoa Tuc never disappoints. We’ve been there multiple times over four visits to Saigon, for both lunch and for dinner. There is lovely outdoor seating in an open courtyard, or indoor seating in a restaurant with hand-painted floral decor. There was a new mural being painted while we were there for lunch one day. Some of our favourite dishes include the fresh pan-fried tofu (đậu hũ trứng) and the chargrilled beef in betel leaves (bò lá lốt ) which is an entertaining roll-your-own dish – tricky initially, but soon mastered. I ordered the sticky rice ball soup for dessert one night (see the photo centre bottom row above) and despite my best efforts at selling it to the rest of The Fairlie Entourage I found no takers. Bonus. More for me. And if you want to learn how to recreate the dishes at home, the restaurant offers a cooking school (Saigon Cooking Class) and also runs some food tours of Saigon.

Ly Club

Great HCMC Restaurants: www.feetonforeignlands.com
Address: 143 Nam Ky Khoi, Nghia, District 3
Neighborhood: District 3
Cuisine: International and Vietnamese
Website: www.lyclub.vn
Phone: +84 8 3930 5588

We’ve visited Ly Club three times – once for dinner, and twice for lunch. We definitely preferred the atmosphere for lunch, but to be fair, for the dinner we were seated in a glassed room outside the main building as we were a larger group (it was all of us, plus Britannia and her family). We found that during the day, the Ly Club offered the perfect sophisticated venue for a relaxed Sunday lunch. It’s on the dearer end of the Saigon restaurant-pricing scale, but would be a great place for a special occasion lunch or dinner. The service is excellent, and there is a small plate menu which offers set-choice pricing options (VND 159,000 for one dish through to VND 525,000 for four dishes – about $8USD to $24 USD). For four of us to have three courses, complimentary friandises and Vietnamese tea/coffee plus a couple of cocktails, the total bill was VND 3,683,450 ($173USD). The same amount and quality of food in a similar setting in Australia would be at least double that.  The menu encompasses both Vietnamese and international options.


Great HCMC Restaurants: www.feetonforeignlands.com

Address: 19 – 23 Lam Son Square, District 1 (in Caravelle Saigon hotel)
Neighborhood: District 1
Cuisine: International fine dining
Website: www.caravellehotel.com
Phone: +84 8 3823 4999

Reflections is the fine dining restaurant within the Caravelle hotel (which was the fifth of our Saigon hotels). Located on the third floor of the original section of the hotel, the view over Lam Son Square and the Saigon Opera House is spectacular. There is always action going on in the Square, so a window table is certainly recommended!  The menu is modern fine dining encompassing a wide range of international cuisines, offers an extensive range of choices, and changes monthly to showcase the best of seasonal ingredients. There’s also a comprehensive wine list.  And a particularly fun feature was that my camomile tea at the end of the meal was served in a Ronnefeldt tilting teapot.  It’s a relatively expensive menu, but this is a restaurant that could be good if you were celebrating a special occasion while in Saigon. Although the decor is looking a bit dated now, I believe it will be renovated over future months. (Disclosure: The Poolboy and I dined at Reflections as guests of the hotel. The photo overlooking the Opera House is supplied by the hotel.)

 Le Cafeteria De L’Usine

Great HCMC Restaurants: www.feetonforeignlands.com

Address: 151/1 Dong Khoi St, District 1 (first floor)
Neighborhood: District 1
Cuisine: Cafe
Website: lusinespace.com
Phone: +84 8 6674 9565

The first time we visited Saigon, we found a mention of L’Usine in the HCMC Luxe Guide, but were a bit perplexed how to find it. All there seemed to be at that Dong Khoi address was an Art Arcade. But we persevered, walked right down the arcade to its end, turned a corner to the right and discovered a staircase with signage pointing up to L’Usine on the first floor. L’Usine is a concept store – gorgeous fashion and gift items from around the world, plus L’Cafeteria which offers an extensive menu throughout the day. It’s a super-stylish venue, and quite a revelation when you find it. The contrasts of Saigon are, for us, one of its biggest attractions. L’Usine is a great spot at any time of day, but we tended to go there for lunch. There’s a second L’Usine on Le Loi, which is also great, but doesn’t have quite the same atmosphere at the original Dong Khoi location.

SH Garden

Great HCMC Restaurants: www.feetonforeignlands.com

Address: 98 Nguyen Hue, District 1 (Top floor)
Neighborhood: District 1
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Website: http://shgarden.com.vn/
Phone: +84 8 6680 0188

Every time I have given a list of restaurant recommendations to friends visiting Vietnam, SH Garden has been included as a must-go. We have fabulous memories of a meal we had there in 2012 with our English exchangee, Britannia and her family. On that occasion, (after we had reached the top floor via the ancient wooden elevator) we had to queue and wait for a table, as the place was packed. But the wait was worth it – we were given a table right on the corner of the open terrace, overlooking the roundabout at the intersection of the grand boulevards of Nguyen Hue and Le Loi. On this recent visit, we were keen to go to SH Garden again…but what a different experience it was. The renovation of Nguyen Hue to create a new pedestrian precinct, and the closure of Le Loi while the underground rail system is built, has effectively cut SH Garden off from all the Saigon action, and when we went for dinner, there was just a couple of other tables filled. The food, however, was magnificent and very reasonably priced. The cơm chiên sen (lotus nut fried rice) and the bông bí chiên (deep fried pumpkin flower) were particular favourites.  The view over the construction site was actually quite fascinating, as work goes on around the clock, and the area is floodlit, which provided us with a bird’s eye perspective of the scale of this project. I just hope the restaurant can hang in there until access is restored and that the crowds re-find it, as it is a Saigon gem.

The Mach House

Great HCMC Restaurants: www.feetonforeignlands.comAddress: 75 Pasteur St, District 1
Neighborhood: District 1
Cuisine: French
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/TheMachHouse
Phone: +84 8 3827 3829

The Mach House was directly across Pasteur St from the temporary entrance to our second Saigon hotel, The Rex. The Mach House embraces the ‘concept store’ idea of combining a boutique downstairs with a lovely small cafe/winebar upstairs. It is like a little corner of France in Saigon, although it also combines some Vietnamese food options. We were there for lunch, and enjoyed a delicious charcuterie platter and a cheese plate, as well as a couple of fabulous French desserts. Bread is homemade, and The Mach House also specialises in coffee roasting, and has a reasonable French wine list. We were very impressed by the unusual crockery used in The Mach House, and unexpectedly stumbled onto the supplier in District 2, so were able to bring home our own set to recreate this wonderful styling.

Eon 51

Great HCMC Restaurants: www.feetonforeignlands.comAddress: Level 51, Bitexco Financial Tower, 2 Hai Trieu, District 1
Neighborhood: District 1
Cuisine: International fine dining
Website: www.eon51.com
Phone: +84 8 62918751

We ended up at Eon 51 kind-of by mistake. We had originally intended going to Cafe Eon which is on the 50th floor of the Bitexco Tower (the highest building in HCMC), but in going on-line to make a booking, The Poolboy ended up booking Eon 51 instead (I don’t think the Cafe has its own website, the link above is to a Facebook page and the web link ends up at Eon 51). Anyway, so we booked at Eon 51, which is an international fine dining restaurant (while Cafe Eon, one level below, is a bit more casual). The views from the restaurant were spectacular – right over the whole city. I always feel though that night time views are not as interesting at daytime ones. Pretty lights, but you don’t see as much action as you would during the day. The prices were comparable to what we would pay in a Melbourne fine dining restaurant – which by Vietnamese standards makes it super-expensive. The food itself was nice enough, but nothing particularly memorable.  If it’s just the view that you’re after, you can get that by paying 200,000 VND (about USD$10) to visit the observation Saigon Skydeck in the same tower, or you could try Cafe Eon (if you can work out how to book it!).

Red Door

Great HCMC restaurants: www.feetonforeignlands.com

Address: 400/8 Le Van Sy St, Ward 14, District 3
Neighborhood: District 3
Cuisine: Modern Vietnamese
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/reddoorrestaurant
Phone: +84 120 880 5905

We visited Red Door on our last night in Saigon, which was a shame, as had we found it earlier, we would probably have gone to it more than once.  Red Door is a relative newcomer on the HCMC restaurant scene, opening only in August last year. It’s located down a small alleyway in District 3 (ask your taxi driver to go to the address above, and you’ll see the entrance to the alleyway). Behind the red door entrance, the decor of this small restaurant is a quirky take on Western/Asian fusion. But what we really loved about this restaurant is that the menu consists of dishes that are inspired by traditional Vietnamese flavours and cooking methods, but are presented in modern combinations and with beautiful plating. Don’t go there expecting traditional Vietnamese cooking – approach Red Door with an open mind and be prepared to be enthralled.

Nhà Hàng Ngon

Great HCMC Restaurants: www.feetonforeignlands
Address: 160 Pasteur St, Phuong Ben Nghe, District 1
Neighborhood: District 1
Cuisine: Vietnamese street food
Facebook page:
Phone  : +84 8 3827 7131

Be prepared to queue (at least for a few minutes) at this incredibly popular establishment. The atmosphere inside this restored French-colonial villa is noisy and bustling, with a wide variety of street-food options on the menu. The seating is restaurant-style, but around the perimeter of the seating area are a number of food stations where your orders are cooked. If your table has a view of one, it makes for some entertainment while you wait for food to arrive. Despite the popularity with tourists, the prices are very reasonable, and if you’re a bit cautious about trying out street food literally on-the-street, this offers a decent alternative. We thought the Banh Xeo (crispy pancakes) were fantastic.

What restaurant appeals to you the most?

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