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Ho Chi Minh City Restaurants

Hoi An
11 Le Thanh Ton Street
Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam
Tel: 84 8 823 7694

This restaurant specializes in the intricate cuisine of the eponymous central coast town, which was influenced by progressive waves of settlers (Chinese and French). A delicious specialty is plump, buttery shrimp grilled in a banana leaf and dipped in a sauce of lime juice and salt. The cao lau is also superb: thin slices of pork, shrimp, and crumbled morsels of crunchy sesame cake tumbled on top of wide rice noodles, served with an aromatic bowl of marrow-bone broth.

La Camargue
191 Hai Ba Trung Street
District 3
Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam
Tel: 84 8 520 4888

After a 15-year downtown run, La Camargue moved one mile to the northwest, along the District 1–District 3 line, in early 2008. The longtime expat favorite didn't miss a beat. The villa-style ambience, with exposed rafters, roof tiles, and a greenhouse's worth of potted plants, echoes the original open-air space, though the address on a quiet lane is even more intimate. The loyal clientele fills the candlelit tables to dine on classic Continental fare like châteaubriand with foie gras or campanelle pasta with sliced pork in a creamy wild-mushroom sauce, as well as a few more inventive treats, such as duck confit samosas with a balsamic-vinegar-and-shallot dipping sauce. Service is attentive, yet unrushed. The new location is a bit out of the way for lunch, but perfect for dinner. Reservations are a must.

Open daily 11 am to 2 pm and 6 to 11 pm.

La Habana
6 Cao Ba Quat
District 1
Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam
Tel: 84 8 829 5180

This lively Latin-themed restaurant and bar is a friendly District 1 gem: Think Sunday paella brunches; Cuban cigars for less than $8; pitchers of well-made mojitos; and 40-plus tapas on the menu, from classics like Serrano ham and melon to meatballs in a chile-tomato Cubano sauce. At night, shy types retreat to the open-air patio out back; everyone else puts on their salsa shoes. There are free dance lessons on Tuesdays, live music on Fridays, and a welcoming vibe daily. Any place with sombreros on the walls can't take itself too seriously.

Open daily 10 am to midnight.

Le Bordeaux
72 D2 Street
Binh Thanh District
Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam
Tel: 84 8 899 9831
www.restaurant-lebordeaux.com.vn

Tourists don't seem to know about this lovely two-story restaurant a ten-minute taxi ride from District 1's Lam Son Square. The city's affluent foodies leaf through the latest editions of Paris Match in the stylish ground-floor lounge and then climb the sweeping staircase for superbly plated, unapologetically French entrées like scallops "St. Jacques" casserole and duck confit with sautéed potatoes. Less traditional options include seared sliced beef with an endive and ginger salad or a foie gras terrine with fig chutney. The tables are piled with hedges of fresh roses, while Chinese porcelain and vintage travel posters decorate the walls. Ratchet up the romance further by booking one of the three tables-for-two lining the narrow balcony. Reservations recommended for dinner.

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 11:30 am to 1:30 pm and 6:30 to 9:30 pm, Sundays and Mondays 6:30 to 9:30 pm.

Lemongrass
4 Nguyen Thiep Street
District 1
Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam
Tel: 84 8 822 0496
www.bongsencorporation.com

Tucked away on a side street just a block from the Opera House and Lam Son Square, this 80-seat restaurant serves a mix of locals, expats, and tipped-off travelers. The cozy dining room—tile floors, wood wainscoting—is attractive, and success hasn't spoiled the experience: The southern Vietnamese fare remains fresh and affordable. Don't miss the grilled-beef salad with mango, or chicken sautéed with chile and lemongrass. The waitstaff is sometimes stymied by the narrow, three-story layout—second-floor seating will ensure the best service. Reservations are recommended for dinner, which is more of a local affair than lunch.

Open daily 11 am to 2 pm and 5 to 10 pm.

Mandarin
11a Ngo Van Nam Street
Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam
Tel: 84 8 822 9783

Mandarin, a sister property to Hoi An, is a sophisticated place; there are Chinese screen paintings and timber beams, and often a live classical trio plays downstairs (call ahead to check the schedule). Chinese dishes are on the menu, but the most successful are those that strike the traditional Vietnamese chord of spicy, fishy, salty, sour, and caramelized notes. For starters, try the bay scallops grilled in their shells and dressed with chopped scallions, peanuts, and herbs. Main courses include costly abalone and shark's fin, as well as succulent beer-steamed crabs.

Quan An Ngon
138 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street
Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam
Tel: 84 8 829 9449

The owner of this popular restaurant scoured the streets for the best dishes he could find, then offered the sellers a gig at his new restaurant at a regular wage. Thus Quan An Ngon was born in 2001. Now 20 or more former street vendors stand in the restaurant's open-air dining area preparing specialties such as spring rolls, bun cha (char-grilled meat and peanuts over rice noodles) and bun bo hue (spicy soup with seafood and pork). The communal tables are packed with locals—always an auspicious sign.

Temple Club
29–31 Ton That Thiep
Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam
Tel: 84 8 829 9244

Tucked away on a downtown shopping street in an outwardly unimpressive building, the Temple Club actually occupies a former Chinese temple. The place has a languorous 1930s ambience, with a classic old wooden bar. Everything here is for sale, from the antique throw rugs and Buddhist tapestries to the retro designer furniture. The menu is Vietnamese, with dishes such as shrimp in tamarind sauce and fried monkfish. Finish your meal by stopping in downstairs at Fanny's. The wonderful ice cream flavors include local favorites like durian as well as the usual suspects, such as chocolate and vanilla.

Xu
71–75 Hai Ba Trung Street
Level One
District 1
Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam
Tel: 84 8 824 8468
www.xusaigon.com

Australian-born restaurateur Bien Nguyen made over the stolid office space of the Ministry of Information into this sleek, second-story hideaway that is light-years removed from a Chinatown pho dive. Vietnamese sophisticates kick back on the lounge's oversize ottomans, sipping lemongrass-infused sake-tinis, grazing on grilled grouper-stuffed pancakes with ginger dressing, and grooving to the Buddha Bar–style music. The adjacent 90-seat dining room is just as design-conscious and delicious, with a menu that mixes traditional fare, such as fresh coi guon rolls (prawns, pork, and noodles wrapped in rice paper), with contemporary Vietnamese, like a tangy salad of sliced beef and herbs with tamarind dressing or pan-roasted prawns with sambal oil and mango dumplings. At Xu's relatively expensive prices, however, we would expect more creative food presentation.

Open daily 11:30 am to midnight.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.