Guidebook Luke Nguyen’s Saigon

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Luke Nguyen’s Saigon

Luke Nguyen is a Vietnamese foodie, explains Good Food. He’s a Vietnamese-Australian chef who “balances life between Sydney, where he owns Red Lantern,” and Ho Chi Minh City, “where he runs his GRAIN cooking school and brand new 180-seat restaurant, Vietnam House.” He gives Good Food some of his favourite Saigon food tips:

Favourite pho? “I like Pho Hung … you can't really go wrong with pho in Vietnam, but this place has a lot less MSG than many others and a fantastic, deep broth. Pho in the north is lighter and clearer -- this one has all the aromatics and a really great, rich beef flavour.”

Best banh mi (pork roll)? “I go to Banh Mi Hoa Ma … they do a deconstructed pork roll -- a traditional Vietnamese breakfast influenced by the French -- and people say they created the banh mi when they started back in 1954 … it's great to sit here and meet elderly men and women who speak fluent French and have been coming here since they first opened.”

Traditional Vietnamese restaurant? “If a guest comes from abroad and wants a good, traditional Vietnamese experience I take them to Hoa Tuc … they do everything well: great service and it's in an old refinery where they used to refine opium … order banh cot, mini pancakes made from rice flour, prawn floss, prawns, pork … then you just wrap them up in lettuce leaves, perilla and mint and dip it in the sauce.”

Anything else? “Opposite the cathedral and the post office there's a big open park where all the students hang out … there's a little street stall there and they char-grill rice paper until it blisters (banh trang nuong) … then they coat it in butter, dried shrimp, a smashed quail egg, a bit of mayo, chilli and fresh herbs -- it's like a Vietnamese pizza or a taco -- really crispy and delicious.”

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