By Epoch Times Staff
Speaking of Vietnamese cuisine, most people would think of ‘Pho’ — beef noodles with rich, super-yummy broth — or ‘Banh Mi’, a metaphorical flavour grenade packed in crisp-outer-and-soft-inner baguette.
While these dishes are all-time favourites, there’s so much more to explore.
Below are the top 15 Vietnamese restaurants in Singapore that we are recommending for your food hunt.
1. Co Hai Banh Mi
If you step into a restaurant where diners are speaking a foreign language, you’re probably at the right place — Co Hai Banh Mi (CHBM).
As the name suggests, ‘Banh Mi’ is a must-try here.
We tried the signature ‘Co Hai Baguette’ ($10) as shown in the picture above. Love it!
The baguette is freshly baked daily, so it’s nearly flawless. After biting through the crisp skin on the outside and the soft bread inside, your palate will be carried to Vietnam via the harmonious flavours of the fillings.
Personally, my rule of thumb for a perfect ‘Banh Mi’ is 50-50, i.e. 50% meat and 50% pickled radish with fresh herbs. This will contribute to a good balance between saltiness, sweetness and sourness, topped with a refreshing herbal aftertaste.
The signature ‘Co Hai Baguette’ is somewhat 60-40, but that’s fine! Kudos to the restaurant for gathering all the hard-to-find hams. Availability of ingredients is probably the biggest challenge in delivering an authentic Vietnamese dish in Singapore. CHBM did well on that.
By the way, don’t fret about the giant red chilli sticking out from the baguette as shown above. It has a friendly level of spiciness. I guess the spiciness has been toned down a lot to suit the taste of the general public here. In Vietnam, those chillies can be really ‘explosive’ — the reason why we need a drink to go along with it, typically iced milk coffee or sugar cane juice.
For our vegetarian friends, CHBM also offers ‘Banh Mi Chay’ ($8), a vegetarian version of ‘Banh Mi’. If you’re only after that well-balanced symphony of flavours, it won’t be compromised here. In fact, the saltiness is achieved with Vietnamese-style soy sauce (instead of pâté and pork floss), which forms a magic combination with the baguette itself — a truly irreplaceable taste!
Beside Banh Mi, ‘Pho Tai’ ($9) is another popular dish at CHBM.
By the way, Vietnamese dishes are known to be healthy with minimal or no oil, accompanied by a wide range of herbs.
‘Pho’ is another dish that is oil-free. The layer of oil on the surface is natural oil from the beef-bone broth. This thin layer of oil serves as a guarantee that a rich broth awaits your palate. However, whether to keep this layer of oil on top, or whether the soup should be clear or slightly dark, all depends on the chef’s secret recipe. The soup is normally served with an addition of hoisin sauce, chilli sauce, fish sauce and lime, all adjusted to the liking of the customer (self-service).
The thinly sliced beef may be served medium-rare. Typically, the Vietnamese would dip the meat to the bottom of the bowl, letting it be further cooked by the hot broth itself. This way, the meat will be fully cooked while preserving its tenderness.
The challenges of delivering this dish in Singapore are the availability of herbs and the ‘pho’ noodle. Yet CHBM has nailed it. Herb-wise, be it Thai basil or culantro, this restaurant has them all (though the served amount is limited). Noodle-wise, normally, homemade ‘pho’ in Singapore uses Ipoh hor fun as a quick replacement, with a compromise on chewiness. However, the noodle used by CHBM is both chewy and translucent, just like the one served in Vietnam.
Another dish that is highly recommended at CHBM is ‘Com Suon’ ($11) — broken rice with BBQ pork chop, Vietnamese egg meatloaf and a sunny-side-up.
This dish is typically served with pickled radish and Vietnamese sweet-and-sour fish sauce. Perhaps to your surprise, this Vietnamese fish sauce is usually not meant for the meat or the meatloaf that has been perfectly seasoned; rather, it’s for the broken rice. Personally, while I would apply all the given fish sauce to the rice prior to my feast, you can apply it partially to suit your own taste.
This dish is best accompanied by ‘Tra Da’ ($1) — unsweetened iced tea — and best concluded with an all-time popular dessert ‘Banh Flan’ ($3) — Vietnamese caramel pudding.
Address: 359 Beach Rd
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 11:00-21:00
2. Nam Nam
‘No MSG’ — perhaps this is the most catchy phrase about NamNam, at least to me personally.
As a chain outlet, NamNam does well in maintaining its standards across the outlets.
At NamNam, my usual pick for ‘pho’ is the original version, with beef slices and beef balls ($8.90). Prepare yourself a mix of chilli sauce and hoisin sauce as dipping sauce for the meat; this will bring your ‘pho’ experience to the next level.
Besides, a vegan version of ‘pho’ ($7.90) is also available at NamNam. Tried it; not bad!
At NamNam, the ‘Banh Mi’ is always nicely cut and neatly packed, with the lovely ratio 50-50 between meat and pickles/herbs.
As I’m usually not after the meaty taste but rather the harmony of flavours, my favourite ‘Banh Mi’ pick at NamNam is the vegetarian version ($8.90) — you will be surprised by how the tastes are not compromised, but enhanced. However, if you’re in a dilemma amid the wide range of choices, NamNam signature cold cuts ($9.90) is always a good selection. Don’t forget your ‘Tra Da’ ($4.50 – a bit pricey, in my opinion).
Address: Raffles City/ Wheelock Place/ Suntec City/ Plaza Singapura
Opening hours: Varies with outlets
3. Pho Street
With the ‘pho’ noodle directly imported from Vietnam, an eight-hour rich broth and homemade beef balls, Pho Street truly lives up to its name. Both the signature ‘PHO5 – Pho Beef Combination’ and ‘PHO3 – Pho Beef Shank’ are highly recommended.
Besides offering ‘pho’, Pho Street has a wide range of local delights too, with a decent quality in taste.
One of its highlights would be ‘VN07 – Dry Rice Vermicelli with Grilled Pork Belly and Spring Roll’. The ingredients are served in perfect proportions, i.e. not too meaty and not too herb-heavy. What’s more, the noodles are seasoned with homemade Vietnamese sweet-and-sour sauce by the chef, which will save you the dilemma of deciding how much sauce to apply. Definitely worth a try!
Nevertheless, should you have a small appetite, you may want to ask for less meat in your ‘Banh Mi’, lest it comes to you a little oversized.
Pho Street also offers a good collection of desserts, so good that they can bring back childhood memories for a Vietnamese far away from home. Dessert recommendations are the highlighted items on the menu, i.e. ‘DT06 – Vietnamese Stick Rice with Black-Eyed Peas Dessert’ and ‘DT07 – Sweet Corn Dessert with Coconut Cream’.
As usual, don’t forget your ‘Tra Da’ — by now, you’d probably have realised this drink will go well with almost any Vietnamese dish. In fact, in a typical Vietnamese eating house, ‘Tra Da’ is often offered free-of-charge, like an inherent part of a meal.
Address: Bedok Mall/ Changi T2, T4/ Compass One/ Galaxis/ Hong Leong Blg/ Keat Hong CC/ Ocean Financial Centre/ The Centrepoint/ Westgate
Opening hours: Varies with outlets
If I’m asked to describe Mrs.Pho in a sentence, it’d be: “Just one slurp and you’re back in Vietnam”.
And that’s not only because of the masterful deco that the restaurant has put up, making you feel you’re having an everyday meal on the roadside of Vietnam.
Needless to say, this is one of my favourite ‘pho’ shops. In my opinion, this might be the closest you can get to an authentic bowl of ‘pho’ in Vietnam. The broth strikes a good balance between the essence of the beef and the savoury harmony of the spices. My usual pick at Mrs.Pho is their ‘Beef Brisket Noodle Soup’ ($8.90).
On the other hand, to provide a more holistic view, almost every restaurant will have its own recipe, with each having its own exquisite taste. This difference is further enriched by geographical variation as you move from North to South Vietnam. Perhaps this will add a perk to your Vietnamese food hunt — to find out which ‘pho’ style really appeases your palate!
Should you decide to explore other dishes besides the typical ‘Pho’ and ‘Banh Mi’, my recommendations would be ‘Bun Bo Hue’ (hot & spicy beef noodle soup) and ‘Hu Tieu Bo Kho’ (beef stew noodle soup), or ‘Bun Mam’ (signature assam seafood noodle soup). The recommendations are listed in ascending order of acquired taste. Enjoy!
Address: 349 Beach Rd
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 11:00-22:00
5. Bami Express
This shop is a die-die must-try if you’re looking for the best ‘Banh Mi’ in town.
In Vietnam, the best ‘Banh Mi’ shops are typically found at the roadside, usually in the form of a push cart, accompanied by another push cart selling sugar cane juice.
In Singapore, Bami Express is perhaps the closest place approximating that. Fully dedicated to serving only ‘Banh Mi’, there is more than meets the eye at this restaurant.
Opened in late 2013 by a Vietnamese lady, Bami Express has become a popular office lunch spot. Only open on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and only half a day on Saturday, this restaurant remains a hidden gem for patrons close by.
With its own baking facilities, you can be sure to have top-notch quality baguette here — crisp on the outside, soft and light on the inside. Bami Express supplies their baguettes to other Vietnamese restaurants too!
The ingredient ratio at Bami Express is practically flawless.
With just the right amount of saltiness originating from both the chicken floss and Vietnamese soy sauce, and a balanced sour and sweet taste from well-preserved pickles, accompanied by the refreshing taste of fresh herbs accentuated by a right amount of umami from the meat and ham — you’re savouring a veritable ‘flavour grenade’. Prepare yourself for love at first bite!
Besides, a ‘Banh Mi’ lunch set here would typically cost around $6.50, including a glass of Vietnamese coffee or sugar cane juice (freshly made every day). Their breakfast set is offered at $4.00 — a nostalgic combination of ‘Banh Mi’ with fried eggs and chicken floss, accompanied by Vietnamese coffee. Beat that!
Address: Blk 1 Tanjong Pagar Plaza, #02-02
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 07:00-17:00, Sat 07:00-13:00
6. Lang Nuong Vietnam
As the billboard suggests, this is indeed the final puzzle piece to Vietnamese cuisine experience in Singapore.
‘Lang Nuong’ literally translates to ‘grill village’, a place where Vietnamese from all walks of life gather after dusk to socialise over the grilling fire.
To create a similar dining ambience, most items are imported from Vietnam, from the furniture and cutlery to the classic Vietnamese charcoal stove. At Lang Nuong Vietnam, the charcoal stove is not only breathing fire, but also has Saigon vibes — for the first time, in Singapore.
Perhaps you are taken by surprise at the amount of herbs seen in the photo above — 80% green! Indeed, this is the amount of herbs normally served in Vietnam, readily available on your table even before your order is placed. This generous serving of herbs demonstrates the restaurant’s commitment in delivering an authentic Vietnamese dining experience.
Besides the individual dish, the signatures at Lang Nuong Vietnam are ‘Premium Mixed Platter BBQ’ (from $39.90 for 2 pax) and ‘Vietnamese Hotpot Set’ (from $15.90 for 1 pax).
Don’t forget to try ‘Banh Flan’ for dessert, i.e. caramel pudding served on Vietnamese coffee.
Address: 18 Foch Rd
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 12PM – 11PM
7. Long Phung
Founded in 2009, Long Phung is perhaps the most well-known Vietnamese restaurant among the Vietnamese living in Singapore. It has no GST or service charge and no fancy façade or deco — just good, authentic Vietnamese food.
Should you prefer the mainstream dishes, our recommended dishes are ‘Pho Nam’ ($7), which is beef noodle with beef brisket, ‘Com Suon + Op La’ ($7.50), which is broken rice with BBQ marinated pork, and a sunny-side-up.
If you would like to venture into real daily food for local Vietnamese, a good pick would be ‘Ca Thu Sot Hanh’ ($8.50), which is mackerel fish in onion sauce, served with rice.
However, should you have an adventurous palate, ‘Oc Len Xao Dua’ ($7.50) will be my pick for you — stir-fry zuzu (snail) with coconut sauce. The topping sauce is spectacularly delicious.
Address: 159 Joo Chiat Rd
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 13:00-02:00
8. Co Ba Quan
Located in the middle of Chinatown Food Street, Co Ba Quan has a specialty to offer — ‘Banh Xeo’ ($9.50), perhaps one of the best in town.
‘Banh Xeo’ literally means ‘sizzling pancake’. The crisp-and-thin pancake is made of rice flour and turmeric powder, served with meat or vegetarian fillings.
Normally, a good ‘Banh Xeo’ is determined by factors such as the crispiness of the pancake, the ratio between saltiness, sweetness and sourness of the dipping sauce, and of course, the availability of the herbs. Co Ba Quan excels in them all. A must-try indeed!
Besides the celebrity dishes of ‘Pho’ and ‘Banh Mi’, an interesting pick in Co Ba Quan’s menu is ‘Thit Kho Trung’ ($7.90) — caramelised pork & egg, served with rice. Do accompany this main dish with ‘Canh Chua’ — sweet and sour fish broth. This combination is a favourite pick by local Vietnamese if they crave a taste of home-cooked goodness.
Address: 21 Smith St
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 11:00-23:00
9. Little Vietnam
With both an air-con dining area and an alfresco one, Little Vietnam Restaurant is a popular spot for late night dining, typically between 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. The price is reasonable at an average of $10 – $15 per pax.
A highlight is the rare dish ‘Bot Chien’, or Vietnamese-style fried carrot cake. This dish is a popular after-school snack for Vietnamese students and evokes so much nostalgia. Friendly for vegetarians, it is served with tasty Vietnamese soy sauce and pickled radish.
Do conclude your meal with ‘Che Chuoi’ or banana sago, one of the most popular among a wide range of desserts in Vietnam.
10. Pho Stop
Located in the Central Business District of Singapore, Pho Stop offers Vietnamese cuisine in a modern setting.
‘Pho Shin’ ($10.70) is recommended. Don’t forget to make your own dipping sauce by mixing hoisin sauce and chilli sauce for the meat. For sharing dishes, deep fried spring rolls ($6.40) is always an good pick.
The restaurant is vegetarian-friendly.
11. Lucky Saigon
Credit: Lucky Saigon @ Facebook
If you’re new to Vietnamese cuisine, Lucky Saigon is here to help with their carefully curated set menu.
At a price between $8.80 to $11.90, the set menu typically comprises a main dish, a suitable side dish, and expectedly, ‘Tra Da’ — Vietnamese iced tea.
Rice Set B ($11.90) is recommended; its main is broken rice with BBQ chicken and egg meatloaf, served with a side of mango salad (appetiser). Do remember the tip of adding the accompanying sauce directly to your rice, and not the meat.
If you are dining as a pair and would like to try something different, Set F ($8.80) is recommended — Vietnamese curry chicken served with rice or baguette. Normally, the Vietnamese would have this curry with baguette. With airy voids and a soft inside, the baguette is able to absorb the chicken curry in its full flavour, forming a uniquely savoury taste. Set F is served with fresh spring rolls, which again makes it ideal for sharing!
Address: 17 North Canal Rd
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 10:00-23:00
12. Sandwich Saigon
Competing to be the best Vietnamese sandwich, Sandwich Saigon has something special to offer — the ‘Meatball Sandwich’ ($8), basically ‘Banh Mi’ with meatball filling. This is indeed a good choice if you’d like to explore more combinations of ‘Banh Mi’.
Generally, the ingredients at Sandwich Saigon are well-proportioned to deliver a well-balanced taste. ‘Banh Mi’ is also served with neat packing. Thumbs up for standards!
Besides their specialty ‘Banh Mi’, the restaurant also offers delicious dishes, such as ‘Pork Chop Rice Set’ ($14.90) or ‘Pho Dac Biet’ ($15.90), a special beef noodle.
The restaurant is vegetarian-friendly.
Address: 93 East Coast Rd
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 11:30-14:30 / 17:30-22:00, Sat-Sun: 11:30-22:00
13. Super Ngon Vietnamese Noodle Café
Specialising in Hanoi-style ‘pho’, the signature dish of this restaurant is ‘Pho Ga Tron’ ($6.90) or dry chicken pho noodles. This is the one and only in town! From its appearance, much resemblance is noticed between this dish and the usual chicken hor fun. However, once you have the first spoonful of it, you will realise that the taste is distinctively Vietnamese. Don’t forget to season it to your own taste!
Address: 465 Crawford Ln
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 11:00-21:00, Sat-Sun 11:30-21:00
14. Pho 99 Vietnamese Delight
Distinguishing itself against other restaurants with its darker soup, ‘Pho Tai’ ($8.50) at Pho 99 is well-rated for its rich broth that’s aromatic and balanced. Do add a few slices of chilli padi for a fiery kick! This chilli padi is provided together with the dish, and it’s not to be mistaken with the ground chilli in oil provided on the table (normally the latter is a condiment meant for another dish).
Besides ‘pho’, Pho 99 also offers a dilemma-free mixed platter ($7) with rice spring rolls and crispy spring rolls. Definitely worth a try!
Address: 57/58 Amoy St
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 10:00-21:00, Sat 10:00-17:00
15. Fat Saigon Boy
Recently shifted to Science Park Drive from Telok Ayer, Fat Saigon Boy continues to offer a unique Vietnamese menu with a contemporary Aussie touch.
Some of its unique dishes are ‘Duck Pho’ ($13) as a main and ‘Spicy Crab Slider’ ($6.50) as a starter.
Set Dinner ($16.50) is also available, comprising one starter, one main, and one drink. What a good deal!
Address: 2 Science Park Dr, #01-15 Ascent
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 11:00 – 15:00 / 18:00-22