Occupying a tastefully restored old building this intimate restaurant is setting new gastro standards in the Old Quarter. It delivers a contemporary take on fine dining, with a short well-chosen menu of Western food including ravioli, lamb and very fine desserts (try the fig cheesecake).
A highly atmospheric and enjoyable restaurant, 69 occupies a historic house and features heavy old wooden beams and subtle lighting. The creative menu is predominantly Vietnamese (try grilled fish mousse served on lemongrass sticks, or the green papaya and beef salad) and there’s a commendably decent vegetarian selection.
The perfect broth for pho (rice-noodle soup) should look as though it was ladled from the river. It's opaque and brownish after beef bones have boiled in it for hours. Some places try to take the mystery out of pho by serving weak, see-through broths, but here you get the good stuff. Once you've experienced it you'll understand why some can't start their day without a bowl.
The local speciality is de (goat meat), usually served with fresh herbs and rice paper to wrap it in. A good place to try this is the blue-walled Huong Mai Restaurant . There is an English menu, though the staff don’t speak English. Try the fried goat with chilli and citronella, and don’t let the oversized goat’s head mounted over the counter intimidate you.
About 500m west of the junction, heading towards Dien Bien Phu, Hoang Quat Restaurant is a very popular lunchtime stop for small groups touring the northwest, with business cards from all over the world providing the wallpaper. The Vietnamese food here is plentiful, tasty and includes great grilled chicken with ginger and ‘mountainous’ rice.
Deceptively simple from the outside, the elegant interior – with leather sofas, exposed stone walls, slate floors and plush seating – is a fine setting for the contemporary Vietnamese cuisine. Seafood is particularly strong here; the fresh fish spring rolls are divine. Try the prawns with peanut and tamarind sauce, or tuna steamed in a banana leaf.
Outstanding new Kiwi-owned restaurant with hip, urban decor and a very modish menu based on simple cooking of prime ingredients (try the Aussie steak with mash). Not cheap, but great value given the quality and dining experience; visit on Tuesday and pasta is just 50,000d. Doubles as a cafe, and the breakfasts are equally impressive.
A banh ghoi is like a meat patty filled with pork, glassy noodles, mushroom and seasonings. A plate of three served piping hot in this fine little place is a tasty treat on a cold day. Tourists are starting to eat here but the friendly woman who runs the joint clearly values her regular patrons, and standards remain as high as ever.
A shady retreat by day, a dignified diner by night, this restaurant offers a menu of Western dishes (including a strong French influence) alongside some terrific Vietnamese cooking. The set menus are a good deal. Hoa Sua is an excellent project that trains disadvantaged kids for culinary careers and also offers cooking classes.
Set in lush landscaped gardens, this attractive island restaurant does a roaring trade with tour groups exploring the delta by boat. There are enough pavilions for independent travellers to hide away and generous set menus are available for two or more. Get here by hiring a private boat from Ben Tre or My Tho.
There are now two places to get Indian fare in town: the new space at Ð Pham Ngu Lao or the original but renovated location at 34 Ð Nguyen Tri Phuong. The former is warmly decorated in more traditional style, while the latter has a sparkling new rooftop terrace and also serves Italian and Vietnamese dishes.
A modern take on a traditional beer hall, this place has huge glass windows that look down over the lake. The menu has plenty of tempting plates from Central Europe including Czech sausages and German-style stewed pork, plus Vietnamese dishes. It doub les as a microbrewery with gorgeous dark or gold beer on tap.