Eating in Sai Gon: Budget
Food stalls are scattered all over the city, but there’s a fair collection in the Ben Thanh market (see Money & Shopping). For local fast food, try the ubiquitous Pho 24 chain. Additionally, foreign fast food franchises Lotteria and KFC have established presences in the city. Interestingly, there doesn’t seem to be a single McDonald’s in Sai Gon.
Along Pham Ngu Lao there are many budget Westernised options, and venturing a bit further into the side alleys can uncover some better choices than on the main streets. This traveler, for instance, had an incredibly tasty bowl of pho at a small roadside establishment near Binh Tay Market in Cho Lon for 10,000 VND, much more flavorful than the stuff at Pho 24 or Pho 2000. It is useful to remember that the local Vietnamese do not necessarily have to spend 50,000 VND on a good meal, and explore accordingly.
- Milano Planet, 418A Vo Van Tan, Dist 3. It’s a restaurant-coffee. Located in the one of most animed street, you could enjoy vietnamese ambiance of the district 3. Milano Planet is specialised in fresh italian pasta, lasagna, paella and beefsteak, cake (pate � chou, fruit cake, chocolate cake), French wine. Also, you could enjoy in the special room the vietnamese coffee atmosphere, in drinking Vietnamese Coffee, Sinh To (Vietnamese milk shake) or eating Ice Cream. Prices are reasonable a meal is about 28.0000 – 60.000 vnd, and 27.000 for a Sinh To.
- Dong Ba, 110A Nguyen Du, Dist 1. This is a shop that sells Hue Food including Hue beef noodles and traditional banh beo rice cakes.
- Pao restaurant & caffe, 158 Bui Vien, Dist 1. This restaurant is just open on May 2009 but very unique decor with all small instruments, traditional dress, hats, of the minority ethnic group in North of Vietnam. Truly Vietnamese food like Spring rolls, Hot pot, Pho with reasonable price 35 000 -60 000 VND. They have live Vietnamese Instrument Show on every Friday, Sunday.
- Faifo, on an alley off Huynh Tinh Cua, almost to Ly Chinh Thang, about 2km from the center in Q3. A family-run restaurant featuring central-Vietnamese dishes at modest prices — a combination of value and authenticity not to be found directly in the tourist district. Dinner for two with beer or juice runs about 130,000 dong. It’s becoming so popular, getting a table is sometimes difficult.
- Pho Bo Vien Quoc Ky, 52 Ngo Duc Ke (near Nguyen Hué, District 1). A nice and cheap place for a soup. Try the sate version of the usual Pho or My: a spicy delicacy!
- Doner Kebab, 198 Bui Vien st., District 1. Inside the backpacker area, you could easily find this small hawk. 18,000d for each Turkish Kebab.
- Dream Cones, 16 Nguyen Thi Nghia St., Ben Thanh Ward, Dist. 1. What a great respite in such a hot and heaving city. Gelato ice cream for less than 16,000 dong a scoop. Nice quirky and cool neon atmosphere, with lots of white leather seating. Free unlimited (unsweetened) iced tea served with your ice cream they pour at your table.
- Falafellim, 97 Pham Ngu Lao St., District 1. Homemade falafel, tahini and hummus in soft pita bread pockets. Sadly it has closed, but has reopened (in a sense) in the guise of a small Kosher restaurant down the alley at 121/37 Le Loi. Open only Monday-Thursday 6:30-9:30 PM.
- Pho 2000, 3 locations, one sharing space with I Love Burger, one right next to Ben Thanh Market, and the last toward the end of Le Thanh Ton Street. Was honored by a visit from Bill Clinton. Has excellent pho (including a seafood version), along with the usual Vietnamese rice dishes, including a superb vegetarian curry.
- Pho 24, Clean modern chain found everywhere in Sai Gon. Excellent beef noodle soup, very cheap.
- BanhMiBistro, 76 Vo Thi Sau, District 1, across from Le Van Tam park. www.banhmibistro.com Great fresh gourmet sandwiches, especially the famous Vietnamese “Banh Mi”. Bread is baked fresh in the store. There are 3 other outlets around town.
- Cafe Lam, 175 Bui Vien, District 1. Excellent restaurant in backpackers area. Huge portions with rock bottom prices. 1 dollar for a big tiger, 2 dollars for a chicken curry w/ rice which is so large you wont finish. This is a very inconspicuous place but most of the customers are regular expats looking for cheap and tasty grub. The food is nothing special but the prices, portions, and drink options make it a good bet.
- Cafe India, 250 Bui Vien, District 1. Self-described as the “best south Indian food in city,” this place is one of the best budget options in the backpacker’s area. Their “happy menus” (thalis) – available all day – are 5 item meals that weigh in at 25,000 VND (vegetarian) or 50,000 for the chicken option. Truly, as they themselves proclaim, “thunder prices of competition.”
- Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt, 15-17 Phan Chu Triuh (Opposite west entrance of Ben Thanh market, near the corner to Nguyen An Ninh), www.tfyogurt.com. 8AM-10:30PM. If the heat in Ben Thanh market gets the better of you head over the street and have a snack or a nice cooling frozen yogurt in A/C. Mains from ~VND40.000, frozen yogurt VND25.000/100g. (10.772066,106.697674)