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BEST CAFÉS & RESTAURANTS IN HO CHI MINH CITY

During my visit to Ho Chi Minh, I was impressed by the variety of different restaurants and cafes. Whatever you're looking for, Ho Chi Minh has it. It was my pleasure to walk virtually through the streets and check out the best cafés and restaurants and I wish that I had more time and even tried out more places.


CAFÉS

Since Vietnam is the second largest country for producing coffee, there are cafés kind of everywhere and the interior design in some of the cafes is just satisfying. I did enjoy hopping from one cafe to the next.


Additionally, Vietnam is known for its specialties, such as coconut or egg coffee, and is worth giving a try. While I was in Ho Chi Minh I found some great cafés, that were perfect for either trying out the hundreds of coffee variations, hanging out with friends, taking a break from sightseeing or just working on your computer. The following were my personal favorites:


Soo Kafe

Right next to the Ben Thanh Market is a café that gave me sort of Harry Potter vibes. The interior reminded me of the old library in Hogwarts. It’s a small cafe, on the upper floor, a bit hidden in a decayed building. The ambient music makes it perfect to work for a while on your computer or read a book. I did enjoy my stay, had the perfect environment to work on this blog and the coffee was great too.


COMA Coffee

Like the previously mentioned café, COMA is also located next to the Ben Thanh Market and has in contrast to Soo Kafe a futuristic-looking interior, with chairs made out of stone and a tree growing in the middle of the room. They do have a great variety of coffees and teas. The wifi password is displayed everywhere and invites you to hang in there for a while, do your research about Ho Chi Minh for example.


Highlands Coffee

You can’t miss this one, because wherever you go, Highlands Coffee will somehow meet your path. It’s the Vietnamese version of Starbucks and embodies a similar menu. Although, I’m keener on supporting smaller cafe stores, visiting one of Vietnam’s most famous chain cafés is a must-do. Be aware that Vietnamese people do like their coffees and teas sweet and you probably need to tell them, to not add any sugar or just less.


Mellower Coffee

Do you want to enjoy a cup of coffee right in front of the famous Notre Dame of Saigon? Well, this coffee has the best location for it and does serve good coffee too! With their wide range of coffee beans from all around the world, you find something that meets your taste and additionally, the place offers a chic, modern, and spacious interior. You can either sit outside or inside.


RESTAURANTS

As I already mentioned in the introduction of this blog, I was deeply surprised by the variety of restaurants, especially vegetarian ones, in Ho Chi Minh, and coming from the Philippines I was not used to it. You can just write down on Google Maps the keyword “vegetarian” and lots of localities pop up on your map. I was so thrilled about the opportunities, that I dig very deep and found some fantastic restaurants to dine in. Honestly, none of them did disappoint us and definitely want to share the best ones with you:


Veggie Saigon

When we arrived in Ho Chi Minh, we were starving and just wanted vegetarian food right away without walking too far. Eating in a full-vegetarian restaurant makes it also easier, to order anything, particularly, when you don't understand a single thing.


Well, we were fortunate and had an amazing and cheap restaurant just around the corner. Veggie Saigon does offer a wide variety of Vietnamese and other Asian-inspired dishes and as the name already tells, everything is vegetarian. We ordered a lot, and every single bite was a pleasure. Of course, we had to try out our first Pho, had some fresh Spring Rolls, a clay pot dish with rice, and some stir-fried noodles as well. It was so good, that we revisited this place two times.


Shamballa

Looking for the best place for chic place with a great atmosphere for a date night? Shamballa might be your place. Speaking of the atmosphere; everyone spoke quietly, light meditative music was playing and incense sticks reminded me of a sacred place. Surely a place to wind down from the hectic daily life in Ho Chi Minh.


Besides the great atmosphere, Shamballa offered an almost endless vegetarian-only menu, which made deciding almost impossible. In the end, we ordered roasted eggplants stuffed with vegetables accompanied by rice and some stir-fried noodles. Everything was well-presented and tasted delicious. Although, it was a bit pricey in comparison to other places, definitely worth the experience.


Rau Oi

This one was another great place for eating vegetarian, especially if you’d like to eat hot pots without any meat. They do have different kinds of hot pots, and plenty of veggies, such as mushrooms, different kinds of lettuce, and protein sources like tofu or other soy creations. We paid 250’000 Dong for a hot pot that was super filling and nourishing.


BROS BBQ

I want to be transparent, and don’t want to hide this experience, just because I always praise eating vegetarian. I’d never eaten a Korean BBQ before and it was always on my to-do list. When I looked up for good restaurant I found BROS BBQ which has a 5-star rating with over 12k reviews and thought, that probably is the place to do a meat cheat, so we visited this place. Honestly, the meat cheat was worth it!


Having a Korean BBQ is a unique experience, and I enjoyed every bite I took. There’s an employee that grills the meat until perfectly done, the atmosphere is loud, lots is going on around you and making it a great environment for having a fun social evening. Everyone is sitting around a grill, enjoying the food, and drinks. Everyone seems to have a great time together.


The 5-star rating for BROS BBQ is well deserved, as many others before and after we had a memorable time, and can recommend eating at this place. You can either choose to order à la carte, but I do recommend you for having an all-you-can-eat buffet. You pay a fixed price (around 300'000 Dong per person) and don't have to worry about anything anymore.


How to eat Korean BBQ
If you've never been to a Korean BBQ, like me, and always wanted to try it and probably ask yourself how it works. Well, you won't be the only one, and I'd asked myself too. For this reason, let me share my experience and give you an insight, into how Korean BBQ works for a foreigner.

Step 1: Order your type of Korean BBQ
It depends on the restaurant, either having the all-you-can-eat buffet options or ordering from the menu. As a total beginner, look up an all-you-can-eat buffet. That way you can have all the experience and zero knowledge about different kinds of meat is needed.

Step 2: Waiting
After ordering your plan, you get seated at a round table that is surrounded by many side dishes, like Kimchi, salad, seasoned soybean sprouts, rice, and many more. In Korea, the side dishes are called "Banchan" and should not be mistaken as appetizers. Do better and don't be greedy and wait until the Korean BBQ begins. That makes you probably wonder, what the next step could be. No worries, you don't need to do the cooking (you can if you want to). The waitress of the restaurant will prepare everything for you, from grilling your meat until it's perfectly done to changing and cleaning the grill. You can just relax and enjoy the show.

Step 3: Eating
Presumably, there's an empty bowl somewhere on the table, where the waitress will put the meat in it. That will be your sign, that it's done and ready to eat. Take some lettuce and wrap the meat in it, add some side dishes, and wrap the whole thing. Now you can dip your wrap into a dipping sauce and that's it - enjoy!

My Banh Mi

The last place I’d like to recommend is a restaurant with its main focus on the famous sandwich: Banh Mi. It’s a baguette stuffed with meat, tofu, or egg as a protein source and accompanied by pickled vegetables, salad, herbs, and sauce. At My Banh Mi, you have the choice of different sauces, we had the garlic sauce and highly recommend the sauce. The bread is crunchy outside and soft inside, everything was well-balanced and without any doubts, I can say, one of the best Banh Mi we’ve tried so far.

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