Guide to Dining in Ho Chi Minh City
1. Ask local people
It is said that the truth can only be told by the insiders. So it is a good idea for you to ask for recommendations from Saigonese people if you are looking for a good restaurant to eat. These people can be anyone from people you meet on the streets, staff in a hotel you’re staying, to the freshly made Vietnamese friends. However, the most common source you can get value information is probably the motor riders or street vendors along the street in Ho Chi Minh City.
Because they often go around the city and they have a lot of time observing customers from different restaurants. They can give you many good advices about specialty of a restaurant, general evaluation about the quality of the food in the restaurant. The one disadvantage is that not many of these people can speak foreign language so there would be some difficulties in communicating with them.
Another reliable source for your information is taxi drivers. Taxi drivers are also the very sociable people. They move around the city in their car, picking up a lot of different customers. And there are many tiny talks along the way between the drivers and customers to exchange knowledge. From these conversations, the drivers can have much information about places in Ho Chi Minh City from the customer’s point of view. And this is impersonal opinion about places. So you might want to ask for some recommendations about the restaurants from these taxi drivers.
Trust your instinct - not everyone will be angelic enough to recommend you somewhere that he or she truly likes instead of sending you to a place that promises them a commission, the revenue of which is from ripping you off with low quality food. Only go with reliable taxi service and use this tip in combination with others below.
2. Look it up
The technologies have changed drastically and it is getting easier for us to get information just about anything. So if you want to know about restaurant hotspots, you can just search it on the Internet. There are many websites that could give you useful information about this topic such as Trip Advisors, Vietnam Online Restaurant Guide or many expat websites.
Using these sources, you can find many reviews about the restaurants, the evaluation of each restaurant and what you should do in a specific restaurant such as place to seat, food to order and so on. These reviews can be written by a professional critic to provide you with some knowledge, tips and recommendation. However, it can also be written by fellow travellers who have had meal at a restaurant and discovered something good about it; so they want to share. It can also come from a regular customer of a restaurant who has many experiences in dining at that restaurant. These websites give you a general and impersonal view about restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City. You can read through to get some ideas.
3. Follow the crowd
Another tip when choosing restaurant in HCMC is to follow the crowd. The word of mouth is a powerful way of transmitting information. And as we all know, the better a restaurant is, the more people know about it. Just simply imagine, you had a delicious dinner at a restaurant. You are so impressed about the food, the atmosphere, the prices and so pleased with that restaurant that you told your friend and highly recommended her to try it. And then your friend kept telling many of her friends who would tell their other friends.
The circle keeps going on and the network keeps getting bigger every day. You can choose a restaurant because you have heard lots of good comments on that restaurant. That is not a bad idea and the percentage that you would have a good time here is pretty high. You can also follow the crowd by stopping by at any crowded restaurants you come across on the streets. It might be a risky decision but the chances of choosing the good one is also very high. Because when it is crowded, people might enjoy eating there so much that they keep coming back and bringing their acquaintances back. Be flexible: do not call your friends and ask the drivers all the time! You can just make a random decision by stopping at one on your walk to the hotel.
4. Don’t judge the book by its cover
One common perception is that the restaurant which looks old and small is not a good one. This is such a misperception and nowhere is this statement more valid than in Vietnam. There are many old and small restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City but the food is extremely good, probably better than any other restaurants serving the same food.
There are many restaurants of that kind in Ho Chi Minh. In fact, many of them are located in District 5, District 10, and rarely locates in the city center. So if you go around the city and see an old restaurant that catches your eyes, don’t underestimate it because you could taste the most delicious there.
5. Good restaurants often come in cluster
It is a surprising fact that many good restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City are located near one another. In Vietnam, when a restaurant thrives out of a cuisines, its neighbour will surely join to have side profits. When there are many restaurants adjacent to each other, it will raise the competitiveness among the food business. Both 2 restaurants want to attract customers more and which one is original might no longer be relevant.
The high level of competition will encourage the restaurants to raise its quality of services such as food, customer services, and sanitary condition Gradually, the restaurants will try to have the best food to attract more customers. These special tips will hopefully to help you save time, money and give you a tool to try all those delicious food of not walking too much to different places.