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Interview with a Saigon Foodie

| Words by Zoe Crane |

The food scene in Saigon has been evolving so we asked Trang, our Saigon office's resident foodie all about it.

We’ve been running small group tours to Vietnam since 1993, but over the past decade we’ve watched the food scene in Saigon come out of its shell, with a litany of new multi-cultural restaurants now attracting locals and tourists alike.

It seems that as fast as international chefs are showcasing new cuisines the Saigon locals are developing new tastes for them. A popular restaurant review website, foody.vn now gets eight million monthly visitors showing the hunger to discover new restaurants.

This influx of foreign-owned restaurants is also pushing Vietnamese chefs to start to thinking outside the box. The new restaurant scene has more of a focus on quality produce, but also on other factors like presentation, service and ambience. Saigon locals and visitors are the clear winners in this burgeoning pursuit to create better and better eateries.

What is your name?

My name is Trang Duong

Trang from Saigon

Trang from our Saigon office loves exploring the emerging food scene in Saigon

What do you like to do when you are not at work?

I loving trying new food and taking photos of … food

You grew up in Saigon city, has the food scene changed much over the years?

Saigon city is such a beautiful combination of modern and traditional Vietnamese life. There are always new things to experience here! I can see Saigon people catch up with food trends very fast. As the city grows, many food cultures from different countries are brought to Saigon too.

Where are your favourite places to go and try new food?

I would actually search on the internet first, mainly on Foody.vn, find reviews and see any new places attracting me. I found these restaurants on Foody and they have become some of my favourite places:

  • Beefsteak Ciao Vo Dep – The name means “Hi! Beautiful wife” and it is a small and cozy Italian restaurant
  • Pasta Paradise
  • Up Café – It has unique décor with everything placed upside down.

Up Cafe Saigon

Up Cafe in Saigon is like eating upside down

Is there one food you love so much you just order it again and again?

I love Pho – my all-time-favourite

Do you like to cook at home, or prefer to eat out?

I like both, especially finding a good dish in a restaurant and then trying to cook it at home. The most memorable was my homemade pizza dough. I thought pizza was the most basic food in the world, hahaha no, it turned out super ugly!

Bun bo

One of Trang’s creations, Bun bo, a beef noodle soup.

What is the weirdest thing you’ve eaten?

Fried crickets with butter, I felt weird at first but it turned out quite nice

What are some dishes that every visitor to Saigon should try?

  • Pho – Vietnam’s famous noodles, the best version is still the traditional beef or chicken Pho
  • Banh Xeo – A crispy fried pancake served with fresh vegetables
  • Vietnamese spring rolls – we have a huge variety to choose from

bowl of Pho

Perhaps Vietnam’s most famous dish, a steaming bowl of Pho

If you designed your own walking food tour, which restaurants/food sellers would be on your list of places to visit?

I’d choose a walking tour in District 1. There are many famous places to visit in Saigon, and we can easily combine as a walking tour. I would start at Pho Ong Hung. It serves traditional Pho with reasonable price and professional service. Next stop would be Wrap and Rolls, which has many kinds of spring rolls and pancakes. Then we’d go to Cuc Gach Quan. This one is very famous and popular among foreigners living in Saigon, it serves Vietnamese-family-meal dishes – great food with cozy and unique décor. I’d finish on Co Giang Street to try several kinds of street food and desserts.

Would you like to taste test some of the new restaurants appearing in Saigon for yourself? Our Vietnam small group tours include breakfast, but leave most lunches and dinner free so you can choose where to eat, with the guidance of our expert local guides.

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