Welcome from Joe & Hai !


350x? Hai'srestaurantWondering where to eat in Saigon? Welcome to Eating Saigon!

When we’re not cooking, we’re eating.  When we’re not eating, we’re cooking.

And we love to share our eating adventures with everyone else who loves to eat great food!  Be warned, however, we may take you to some off-the-track places.  But, we promise you we’ll show you some amazing Places to Eat in Saigon !

Understand a little more About Eating Saigon! here. And learn a tad more about who are Joe & Hai, below.

Joe & Hai - Chúc ăn ngon (Enjoy your meals!)

Joe & Hai – Chúc ăn ngon (Enjoy your meals!)


It’s almost midnight, November 22, 2011.  I’m sitting in southern New Jersey (USA) – it’s cold and raining heavily.

The day after tomorrow is Thanksgiving and tomorrow I’m planning to chop up lots of fruit and soak them in Apricot Brandy to begin the turkey stuffing. I’m certain it will be a wonderful meal together with my two sisters and their families whom I haven’t seen in almost a year.  (OK – So now you’re wondering – Did I click the wrong Google search?  Or is there a crazy guy in South Jersey blogging about where to eat in Saigon?  NO – YOU’RE OK – so far.)

Even here in the Pinelands of New Jersey, all I can think about tonight is Vietnam!  I miss my partner, Hai.  And I miss jumping on the motorbike each day and exploring Saigon with him  – scouting out the best places to eat in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), the hidden little allies with Saigon’s best street food eating adventures, and enjoying together our favorite Vietnam dishes and Saigon cafes. But I’m only away from Vietnam for a few weeks.  I’ll be back soon to relax at one of my favorite Saigon coffee shops and enjoy some early morning or late night Pho – Saigon style with Hai.  And to launch our Blog – Eating Saigon!

I’ve lived and eaten in Vietnam for nearly 8 years now.  First in Hanoi and, since 2007, in Saigon.


I LOVE TO COOK (and EAT) !!  I’ve been eating in Saigon for the past 34 years … so I know where to go 🙂

It’s 05:30 am Monday morning …  I’m about to head off to work at my restaurant, Dong Hoa Xuan.  If it’s a normal day, we’ll have a rush of folk between 06:00 – 09:00 for breakfast on their way to work.  The locals will want cơm tấm (broken rice) topped with either bao tử  (pork stomach), Sườn Nướng (BBQ pork chop), or Cá Kho Tộ (spicy caramelized fish). There will be no westerners or tourists. Things will get quiet after 09:00 until the lunch rush begins about 11:30 until 14:00 closing time.  For lunch, I might see one Westerner drift in each week.  (I wonder how they found me?)  After lunch, it’s off to the market for me to select fresh vegetables, fish, pork, beef and chicken, and rice for tomorrow’s menu.  Then there is an afternoon of food preparation together with my staff – including hours of  chopping, dicing, marinating, and cooking vegetables and meats – all in preparation for tomorrow morning’s 06:00 rush ~ when it all begins again!

My grandmother made my restaurant, Dong Hoa Xuan, famous 50+ years ago – all the locals loved her bao tử !  I watched my mom in the kitchen.  None of my other 11 brothers and sisters cared or were allowed to help – I was the lucky one!  Later, I learned more at the Saigon Tourist Cooking School and at a cooking internship at The Majestic Hotel, one of Saigon’ premier 5-Star hotels. But, mostly, my grandmother’s recipes and secrets have guided me.

When I’m not cooking, Joe and I spend our time seeking out the best authentic Vietnamese food in Saigon’s hidden restaurants and street food tucked away on small streets and alleys here in Saigon.  I’m not sure whether I prefer to cook or to eat great Vietnamese food – I’m still trying to decide 🙂

[as translated by Joe]


And then there was our wonderful recent rip to the East Coast, USA !

  24 Responses to “Welcome from Joe & Hai !”

  1. Hi Joe and Hai,
    My husband Joe and I are going to visit Vietnam this October, our first stop is Saigon on October 24). We are so happy to find your blog. We love your website. It is very informative and helpful on preparing our first time in Vietnam. We love street foods and can’t wait to try all your suggestions. Thank you for all these information, not only about the food but also what to expect like taxi, prices…etc. Great website and can’t wait for more to come.


    • Thanks so much Pedro ~ Hai & I are really glad to hear you’re enjoying Eating Saigon! Have a great trip and wish you both fun eating adventures 🙂

  2. I’m so excited I just found your site! I’m planning for first trip ever to Vietnam for this spring from NYC and I’m a huge foodie! I love to eat at off the beaten path places, so I will be doing LOADS of research on your site and others. Thanks for sharing your insight!

    • I’m so glad you’ll be using Eating Saigon! to plan some of your eating adventures! What fun!! If you find any foodie gems on your own, please share. ENJOY.

  3. Hi Joe and Hai,

    Thanks for all your tips and your enthousiasm.
    Here is some great street food places to eat around my place, I don’t know if you have already hang around there.
    When you’re on Nguyen Dinh Chieu, turn right on Ban Co street, then second alley on the left. Immediatly on your left, amazing wonton and noodle soup in a small trolley.
    The next alley, about in its middle, at a corner on the right side, you will find a delicious bun thit nuong (an old woman under a blue tarp, only between 12.30 and 5.00pm) next to a younger woman doing great fresh shrimp spring rolls with peanut sauce. All around, there are some good pho, and all kind of authentic street food in these market small streets between Ban Co and Nguyen Thien Thuat.

    Continue to report your experiences here !


  4. Hello guys! 🙂 Your blog is amazing, thank you very much for all the tips and great places you are talking about, it inspires me a lot. I just arrived in Saigon for 6 months and I am so glad to discover blogs like yours. 🙂


    • Wow Marion, thanks so much. I hope your first month of discovering (and eating) Saigon has been great for you. Let me know if you find some great places that we’ve yet to discover.

  5. Thank you so much for this awesome resource! We’re new arrivals to HCM and this has been an invaluable resource for my wife and I in exploring the amazing food of this city.

  6. Hello Joe and Hai,
    I met you at the Visitors’ Information Desk in the Sackler Gallery, Washington, D.C. on Friday, July 12th and we shared memories of San Francisco. It was a pleasure meeting you both and I really enjoyed exploring your web site. I hope that our paths cross again in the future. Bon Apetit!

  7. Hello Hai & Joe,

    Just discovered your blog and I love it. Thank you for sharing all of the best places in Saigon. My best friend and I are returning to Saigon again in October and we both can not wait to check out all of the hidden gem eateries.

    I, myself have been back to Saigon many times but always eat around the backpacker area and on Nguyen Trai street so this time will venture out to other district.


  8. This is great, a needed guide by writers who know food and how to write about it, thank you.

  9. Hi Hai,

    Any recommendation local food/street food around the District 1?

    FYI, this is my first time visit Ho Chin Minh city.

    Thank you so much

    • Yes Kent, lot’s of good eating in and around District 1. Click on District 1 in the “search-by-district” in the top menu bar; or look around our street food map on Eating Saigon!’s Map Page. Enjoy your first eating adventures in Saigon!

  10. Dear Joe,
    We have a wonderful and the most tasty meal at Hai’s restaurant on 22/05/2013. Everyone loves the caramalised fish steak, soft shell crab and pork ribs that Hai prepared for us. Many thanks to you and Hai.

  11. will be in HCMC this coming wednesday. always happy to meet fellow restaurant owner operators. will come by and thank you personally for this great site

  12. I ate at your place the other day, and I came upon your site on accident today at work! Funny coincidence! I’ll stop by again as I work around the corner. Great food!

  13. So even after your dumb review of Au Lac do Brasil on lonelyplanet.com compounded with the self serving spam in that review, I have to say eatingsaigon.com is an incredible source of information that I’ve referred to during every extended stay in Saigon.

    • Mmmmmn? Dumb? I just took a look back at my 14 Mar 2012 comment.
      “Good for: eating meat, being a tourist” – It’s TRUE! Lot’s of meat & tourists here!
      “Not good for: Experiencing local Culture, inexpensive local food.” Again, it’s TRUE.The food’s not cheap by Vietnamese standards & certainly not local cuisine.
      I must admit, my mention of Eating Saigon! may have crossed some protocol line??(maybe) – But “in service” to visitors to Vietnam , not to myself. [note the lack of advertising on my site 🙂 ]
      Finally, the best news of all – you find my site useful – cam on nhieu! Thank you.

  14. I came across your website for the first time today and absolutely love it! I currently have a food blog (http://avocadopesto.wordpress.com) and my boyfriend and I recently started a travel blog (http://acoupletravelers.com) in preparation for a 2 year backpacking trip that we are leaving for in September. We are planning on spending a month in Vietnam (we’ll get there in Nov 2012) and as a food lover and cooking enthusiast this blog has so much helpful and wonderful information! I would absolutely love to check out Hai’s restaurant and have a meal there!

  15. Gosh I love your website. Keep up the good jobs 🙂

  16. Wow! So far soo good! Love the food descriptions as my mouth was watering just imagining bites off the pork belly that Hai prepares. Keep at it and soon your blog will thrive.

    Cheers from California!


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