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crellston Dec 3rd, 2005 09:55 AM

Restaurant recommendations -Vietnam
We are flying out to Saigon on Christmas Eve and then travelling north to Hanoi via the central highlands, Hue, Hoi An to Hanoi. From Hanoi we will move on to Sapa and then drive the loop to Dien Bien Phu I would appreciate any recommendations for restaurants in any of these places. Any cuisine but primarily Vietnamese. I am not especially interested in hotel restaurants(unless they are particularly special in terms of location, views etc) as we generally prefer to eat in local restaurants.

Neil_Oz Dec 3rd, 2005 01:03 PM

If you enter vietnam +restaurants into the search box above you'll find quite a few threads on this. I'm with you on hotel restaurants, although I'm a sucker for buffet breakfasts. Don't miss the Cha Ca Va Long in Hanoi's old town - cheap and cheerful and serves only the local fish speciality, cha ca. And it's in Cha Ca Street...

Juju2 Dec 6th, 2005 08:13 AM

We enjoyed the Cargo restaurant in Hoi An, second street up from the waterfront street and 1/2 block west of Le Loi St. It has a back entrance from the riverfront street, but I am not sure the name is prominent on that side. The Vietnamese and Hoi An specialties (do have both the White Rose and the fried wonton appetizers) were excellent.

Our worst food experiences were in Hue, the supposed food capital of Vietnam. La Carambole restaurant was good, though.

Florida1 Dec 6th, 2005 11:50 AM

Last November I ate at a restaurant in Saigon called Mandarin and it was very good. Tried to go to Lemongrass in Saigon as well, but couldn't get a reservation, but it's supposed to be very good too.

Neil_Oz Dec 7th, 2005 01:05 AM

The only poor meal I had in 3 weeks in Vietnam was a place in Nha Trang, on the main esplanade - didn't think to note the name. Our shrimp in coconut milk turned out to be a bunch of said crustaceans swimming in thin coconut juice (the liquid naturally contained by the nut, not the creamy stuff made from the flesh) and was tasteless. Or subtle, if you prefer. My roast chicken in five spice was the toughest bird I've ever encountered. almost impossible to cut or tear apart. I explained to our waitress in a mixture of a bit of English and much mime that the creature had obviously collapsed and died of a heart attack in advanced old age. The poor girl fled from the foreign madman in terror and we didn't see her again, but the surrounding tables enjoyed the show. The Vietnamese like a good laugh as much as anyone.

Don't let that put you off - you don't have to go to poncey overpriced palaces designed for cashed-up expats and nervous tourists to get a great meal in Vietnam. I just wish we'd patronised a few more of the very modest establishments.

Try Koto, near the Temple of Literature in Hanoi - run by Jimmy Pham, a Vietnamese-Australian hero, to train street kids in the hospitality industry, and they do a great job. When we visited, the French chef from the Sofitel was running the kitchen on a volunteer basis while the boss was in Melbourne. Later saw a seriously moving doco on Australian TV about the enterprise; for once you can feel like you're doing something useful by pigging out in a restaurant.

There's another place in Hanoi run on a similar basis, but I forget its name - probably in one of those past threads. It's also very good and offers a nice basic French menu as well as Vietnamese I had a pretty reasonable confit du canard washed down by a rather mediocre French red bought as a result of 3 weeks of wine deprivation. Pleasant courtyard setting.

connette Dec 8th, 2005 03:56 PM

We just returned from these cities. Here are some restaurants that we really enjoyed. In Hanoi Emperor and Indochine. Went to Indochine twice in fact. The food was so good and the atmosphere dining outside in the courtyard was really fun too. Tried Bobby Chinn and while the restaurant and service are devine, it was really pricey and the food not quite as good as the others. In Hoi An most any of the river restaurants would probably be great. All for about $10.00 total for dinner and drinks for two. The seafood was so amazing here. We particularly liked Hong Phuc where the ferries depart, and near our hotel - the Victoria - is a new restaurant called Fullmoon Townes. It is a $2.00 cab ride from town. It is just a bit more expensive but really really nice. The woman who owns it spent 5 years gathering the materials to built it, including a tea house, and moved it all to Hoi An. It is also right on the river. A couple in Saigon that were really good was Lemontree and Vietnam House. Both about $15.00 - $20.00 total for a huge meal with drinks for two.

Kathie Dec 8th, 2005 05:19 PM

I'll second Neil's nominations of Koto in Hanoi. A worthy cause and good food.

We ate at Emperor, but thought the food was inconsistent, some dishes were excellent others wre bland. We liked its sister restaurant Club L'Opera much better. We also enjoyed the Brothers Cafe, a buffet in the courtyard of an old monstery. You choose meats and fish that they will grill for you, as well as a wide variety of Vietnamese foods. I agree with connette that Bobby Chinn's was overpriced.

Neil_Oz Dec 8th, 2005 05:52 PM

Just located the other training-school restaurant in Hanoi mentioned earlier - the Hoa Sua, at 81 Tho Nhuom. It's situated in an old villa and as mentioned serves decent French food as well as Vietnamese.

connette Dec 8th, 2005 06:39 PM

I forgot to say Koto. It was really fun watching the young workers keeping each other in line and working so hard to make a nice lunch experience for their customers. Food was good too. It was really becoming a joke to us that we went to so many restaurants that Bill Clinton had been to, including Koto. His picture on the walls of the various restaurants with the staff. We were on the Bill Clinton tour I guess.

crellston Dec 9th, 2005 07:01 AM

Thanks so much for all the great suggestions, warnings and advice. I particularly like the idea of the training restaurant for steet kids - the NEILS comment re pigging out and doing something useful really does appeal. I hope to locate at least some of these places and and perhaps report back upon our return having discoverd some mor discover some more.

butch Dec 10th, 2005 06:20 PM

A few of our favorites that we can actually remember the names. They are all Vietnamese cuisine, as we do not like to eat anything we can get at home.

1. Cha Ca La Vong - great marinated and grilled fish. The only thing they serve. Sit upstairs. 14 Cha Ca St.78
2. Wild Rice - upscale yet still not very expensive for the food and the atmosphere. 6 Ngo Thi Nham
3. Kem Trang Tien -- BEST ice cream! 54 Pho Trang Tien. You'll know it when you see the crowd of people on the street in line.

Hoi An:
1. Mermaid Restaurant - we had the best squid stuffed with pork that had a sauce that was outof this world. 2 Tran Phu.
2. Miss Ly Cafeteria 22 - great food and inexpensive. 22 Nguyen Hue
3. Hoi An Riverside Resort - I know you said you didn't like hotel food but we stayed at this resort which is out of town on the way to the beach. The restaurant is on the river, which is very peaceful. The restaurant has a wonderful menu for dinner (expensive) and a great breakfast.

1. Nam Phan - the most expensive restaurant we ate at but after eating lots of street food we felt that we should splurge on our last evening. The setting is understated contemporary elegance. The service was exceptional and the food was excellent. 64 Le Thahn Ton Street

No matter where you eat, I doubt you will be disappointed. We are going back in March and cannot wait to eat!

Have fun!

susumiki Dec 23rd, 2005 04:31 AM

Ooops this is kind of late but hopefully you'll have time to have a look before you go off on your trip.

A couple of excellent food blogs covering the eats scene in Saigon and Hanoi are and respectively. Have a look at them if you'd like a a more local slant on your trip.

Have a great time in Vietnam.

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