Vietnamese cuisine is distinct, mouth-watering and bursting with flavour. A divine concoction of sweet, salty, sour and hot flavours, not overly spicy, with rice, noodles, fresh vegetables and herbs all playing a big role; there’s no wonder that over the years it has become more and more popular around the world. With a staggering 500 traditional dishes to indulge your taste buds, Vietnam is the perfect destination for foodies.
Crumbling old quarters have been transformed into fine dining eateries, headed up by globally respected chefs, and the street food scene is flourishing as ever. But with thousands of restaurants up and down the country, it’s almost impossible to decide which restaurants to go to for the best in providing quality Vietnamese food, a great atmosphere and a luxurious flare. Here we have rounded up the best, and our favourite, restaurants in Vietnam by region…
One of Vietnam’s finest establishments offering a range of traditional cuisine, rich in flavour and colours. However, it has been very tastefully designed, and the architecture is almost as interesting as the food. With comfort and relaxation in mind, the designers have done a wonderful job using colours and shapes to create an environment into which one can immediately feel settled.
The Green Tangerine
This restaurant offers a menu of innovative and delicious French and Asian fare in a fantastic location. Set back from the busy streets in a lovingly restored 1928 colonial home in the Old Quarter, Green Tangerine is the best for its lunch menu.
Seasons of Hanoi
A classic Vietnamese restaurant with an intimate and romantic ambience. Serving the finest in Vietnamese cuisine, the candlelit interior of this beautifully restored colonial villa is tastefully decorated throughout in warm earth-tone colours and authentic locally produced furnishings.
Ho Chi Minh
Follow the trail of lanterns up the dimly lit stairs to this elegant restaurant. This is one of the top spots in the city, and white tablecloths, whirling fans and antique silverware to accompany chopsticks create a colonial atmosphere. But the menu is distinctly Vietnamese; favourites include grilled beef on lemongrass skewers and fish wrapped in banana leaf.
Quan An Ngon Restaurant
An open-air restaurant where Ho Chi Minh City’s finest street chefs create their masterful specialities. Locals and in-the-know foreigners jostle at night time, waiting for their favourite Vietnamese classics like bun cha (vermicelli with minced pork balls and fresh herbs) and green papaya salad with shrimp. Fortunately, there are a lot of tables, so the line moves quickly.
Xu Restaurant Lounge
Xu Restaurant Lounge serves both traditional and modern Vietnamese food, using new techniques often simplifying complex dishes to emphasise a particular ingredient. Recommended dishes to try are banh bot lọc, rice cracker banh he beef, and Vietnamese cang cua salad followed by a chocolate kumquat truffle.
An unusual and hip little restaurant that was started up by Texan-Vietnamese chef Duc, who has successfully fused the flavours of Vietnam, America and hints of Japan to create some delicious and unique dishes. The open kitchen allows you to see the chef at work with all his flair, creating a great dining experience.
The Cargo Club restaurant at Morning Glory not only provides clean, fresh and delicious food, but they also share the charming stories behind traditional Vietnamese cuisine and culture. Cooking with love and passion, many dishes that you just won’t find on other menus are all available here and are perfection on a plate! They also offer great cooking classes which involve a visit to the market with the chef. Book a table on the terrace and enjoy watching the sun go down with a cocktail or two!
Full Moon Town
Located on the banks of the Co Co River along a street leading to a beautiful sandy beach, Full Moon brings together traditional and modern architectural styles in a romantic setting. Serving typical Vietnamese dishes, this is a great place to explore local flavours and soak up Hoi An’s renowned atmosphere.
This is the best local restaurant in Hué. A collection of original Royal ancient houses, with decor that evokes an authentic ambiance of a Royal Palace. Delicate sweet and spicy flavours, and an abundance of fresh produce and seafood, this opulent restaurant showcases the best authentic dishes from the region, as well as a wide range of innovative fusion cuisine.
Le Parfum at La Residence Hotel
Le Parfum chefs use the freshest market ingredients to create delicious local, regional and international dishes. The airy high-ceiled dining area enjoys views across the Perfume River to the Imperial Citadel, and the well-clipped garden of La Residence make for a fantastic ambience.
Whichever area of Vietnam you decide to visit, you’ll certainly enjoy trying all the local delicacies. If you’d like help planning your visit to Vietnam, please leave a comment below.
James Jayasundera is Founder and Managing Director of Ampersand Travel. Ampersand Travel create bespoke and luxurious travel experiences to Asia, the British Isles and Southern Africa.