Although Hanoi might think of itself as more cultured, HCMC is the culinary heavyweight of Vietnam. Restaurants here range from dirt-cheap sidewalk stalls to atmospheric villas, each adding a unique twist to traditional Vietnamese ﬂavours. As well as delicious regional fare, the city oﬀers a welcoming dose of world cuisine, with Indian, Japanese, Thai, Italian and East-West fusions well represented. Unsurprisingly, given its heritage, HCMC has a ﬁne selection of French restaurants, from the casual bistro to haute cuisine. English-language menus are common in most restaurants these days. Good foodie neighbourhoods include the Dong Khoi area, with a high concentration of top-quality restaurants, as well as the bordering sections of District 3. Pham Ngu Lao’s eateries, attempting to satisfy every possible culinary whim, are generally less impressive but good value. Chinese fare rules Cholon, although restaurants here can seem sparser than pagodas on a casual stroll through the area. There are also a few escapes further aﬁeld for those willing to explore. Markets always have a good selection of stalls whipping up tasty treats. Ben Thanh’s night market is particularly good. Most of these stalls, like the vendors at the street, specialise in only one dish. Pick one that’s busy with locals and you’re unlikely to be disappointed. Banh mi – sandwiches with a French look and a very Vietnamese taste – are sold by street vendors. Fresh baguettes are stuﬀed with something resembling pâté (don’t ask), pickled gherkins and various other ﬁllings. A sandwich costs between 15,000d and 25,000d, depending on what you choose. The largest concentration of vegetarian restaurants is around the Pham Ngu Lao area and you’ll usually ﬁ nd one in the vicinity of a Buddhist pagoda. On the ﬁrst and 15th days of the lunar month (Vietnamese Buddhism’s compulsory vegetarian days), food stalls around the city, especially in the markets, serve vegetarian versions of meaty Vietnamese dishes. While these stalls are quick to serve, they’re usually swamped on these special days. Be patient, as it’s worth the wait.