A personalized guide to our corner of the city
Tried and true places in our Da Kao neighborhood:
1) Gỏi Đu Đủ (Green Papaya Salad with beef jerky and roasted peanuts). A delicious snack, and executed especially well at this little hole-in-the-wall.
2) Where to eat Phở if you’re vegetarian? Phở Chay Như at 54 Truong Quyen St is a must. See one review with photos here
3) Phở Hòa is famous around the world for some of the tastiest phở broth around. If you are on the look-out from some great beef phở, however, we recommend you skip it and head straight to #4, Phở Hiền
4) Phở Hiền may not be as atmospheric as other places, but the broth is spot-on and the servings are generous. We are never disappointed by Phở Hiền, and it’s an added bonus that they’re open till 11pm
5) Gỏi Cuốn (literally “rolled salad”) is the best at Hoàng Ty. There are seafood platters, pork platters, beef cooked in vinegar, beef rolled in Lot leaf, and even grilled fish to stuff into the rolls you make yourself. If you’re going with 4 or more people, definitely get the fish (it’s large!). The beef and pork plates are better for smaller groups. If you don’t love jelly fish or squid, best to pass up the seafood option.
6) Tib is a another vegetarian option for those with deeper pockets. We’ve not eaten there yet, but had to include it given the extensive positive reviews.
7) Cục Gạch Quán is a bit of Vietnamese comfort food set in a beautifully-architected setting. It’s not inexpensive, but it has something for everyone and serves up food to make any Vietnamese mama cluck in approval.
8) A Vietnamese favorite: crab udon (Bánh Canh Ghẹ) has been refined to near-perfection on Đinh Tiên Hoàng, just across north of the canal. Small plastic tables overflow out into street, making it a difficult spot to miss.
9) Famous since her debut on Anthony Bourdain’s show, the ‘Lunch Lady’ cooks up a new lunch menu each day of the week. First come, first served so try to make it before noon.
10) For fresh and authentic Japanese, and $5 nigiri sushi sets, visit The Sushi Bar (one location shown here, but other locations are also found in District 1 here)
11) My favorite Bún Bò Huế place is just a 5-minute walk south of us. (This lady started as a small stand and now seats nearly 50 breakfasters in there at a given time.) This place also has family history as Luan’s father and his siblings grew up eating at this same spot.
Evening / night only
12) At night, this street fills with the smells of grilled beef from the multiple stands serving snacks of Bò Là Lốt. Spiced beef wrapped in wild betel leaves look deceptively like Greek stuffed grape leaves, but are far more tasty.
13) 5ku is a fun and lively beer garden done in proper Vietnamese style. Grilled dishes range from okra to octopus, and a nifty retracting roof makes the open-air atmosphere work in rain or shine.
14) Great Cơm Tấm is available at Thu Tu, where the staff all wear yellow T-shirts. Food is on display, so pointing works great here. Pick which 2-3 dishes you would like and it’s served up on a heaping bed of broken rice. This might be Vietnam’s closest equivalent to late night diner food, just so much better.
15) After night cơm tấm, and if you have space for more, head around the corner for sticky rice with chicken (Xôi Gà). It’s popular so you may have to wait 5-10 minutes, but it’s well worth it.
Not only food
16) Chợ Tân Định market is a typical Vietnamese market, similar to the Da Kao market near our house, but 5 times the size. Along with the regular groceries and household items, Tân Định also has a large selection of cloth stores and tailors for stitching an áo dài (the traditional dress), or even western clothes. During the day, regular lunch places serve typical food, local style. When the market closes at night, late night food joints take over entirely. (See #14 and #15)
17) Techcom Bank’s no-fee ATM