4 friends exploring, eating and evaluating…
Ben Tanh Market
Spring Rolls & Seafood
Ben Tanh is a must visit for all tourists in Ho Chi Minh. Whether you are looking for food, clothes or souvenirs, you will find it here. After arriving in Ho Chi Minh late at night, many restaurants were closed, but the market was still open – any place that’s open late is a winner in my eyes!
Dining here felt quite intense because there were a lot of wait staff hovering over us, so the pressure was on to order. I’m not sure if it’s always like this or if it was because it was late at night and there were less people, but it was quite uncomfortable. We chose various dishes to share: spring rolls, salt & pepper prawns, beef noodles and red snapper. All of the seafood was incredibly fresh; live prawns were selected and weighed in front of us before cooking. Once ready, our server de-shelled the prawns for us at the table. At Ben Tanh Market, you can get a huge feed of good food, for a small price.
Stuart – 6.5
Christine – 6
Kimberley – 7
We ate at the Refinery mid-morning on a Monday, but I think the weekend would be the best time to visit because they have a very inviting menu for Saturday and Sunday’s. The menu we were presented with was still good, but didn’t have as many brunch or egg focused options.
We all decided to go for salads and I chose the poached egg and smoked salmon parcel salad. This dish was a big portion served with mixed leaves, asparagus and avocado. The salad was nice and refreshing, with some delicious roasted tomatoes thrown in. Although the food was tasty, it was the fresh juices that stole the show.
It was quite quiet when we stopped past the Refinery, but they have a significant wine and cocktail menu, so I would expect evening or weekends to be busier. It’s a very relaxed location, which makes you take your time and enjoy your meal, but we did suffer from a lack of atmosphere.
Stuart – 7.5
Christine – 7
Kimberley – 6.5
Pork & Prawn Claypots
Sam had officially joined the group, so we headed out for a traditional Vietnamese meal. We made a reservation at Den Long and we were glad we did because it was full when we arrived. This restaurant has a very casual and relaxed feel, which is ideal for a homely feast.
We started with some fruity cocktails and Vietnamese beers, whilst we looked over the menu. After deliberating, we settled on some soft-shell crab, calamari, chicken skewers, caramelized pork in claypot, caramelized prawns in claypot, garlic fried rice and corn on the cob to share amongst us. From start to finish, I loved everything that we received, but my 3 highlights were the corn, soft-shell crab and caramelized pork.
We had a lot of food, but I enjoy picking at different things and trying lots of dishes, so this was ideal for me. Den Long was my favourite meal in Vietnam and it was the restaurant that received the highest ratings.
Stuart – 9
Christine – 8.5
Kimberley – 9
Sam – 8.5
This was our most controversial meal in Vietnam. Banh Mi means bread in English, so essentially, it’s a sandwich. I had heard about Huynh Hoa, as a popular place for locals to grab lunch and I was determined that it would be the place I would have my first Banh Mi.
When we arrived, we found a small restaurant filled with local workers picking up their lunch. There were a chain of people creating the Banh Mi, but not being local we weren’t sure how the system worked. Somehow, we managed to order and came away with 2 Banh Mi, with everything on it, to share between 4.
I loved the setup of the small, busy location and it was clear that they have a collection of lunch time regulars. However, the meal itself I didn’t enjoy as much as I thought I would. I did still enjoy it, but it was overloaded with meats and vegetables – I would have preferred a slightly simpler Banh Mi. As you can tell from the ratings, we gave Huynh Hoa a mixed review, but I would recommend making your way there for an authentic Banh Mi experience.
Stuart – 8.5
Christine – 5.5
Kimberley – 7.5
Sam – 6