Travel: Explore Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine at Ho Chi Minh City – Chi Hoa Restaurant
There are many Vietnamese restaurants in New York, I dine at these restaurants every now and then whenever I have the chance, and I usually enjoy the cuisine. It is not until I actually went to Vietnam for a visit when I really fell in love with Vietnamese food.
Even though I only had enough time to visit one city during my last trip, I still learned a fair amount of the culture and country. Within the short stay in Ho Chi Minh City, my boyfriend and I toured around most of the historical sites and shopped through every traditional market. Our activities might be a little touristy, but we definitely made sure we only dined at local places to taste the most authentic flavors of Vietnam.
Through the resort concierge and some local friends, we got some great restaurant recommendations in downtown Ho Chi Minh City. Between all the sightseeing, we were on a mission to hit all of these restaurants because we didn’t want to miss out on any good eats. Of all the recommended places, some are just all right, some are great, and there is one particular restaurant that was absolutely amazing – the restaurant is called Chi Hoa.
Chi Hoa Vietnamese Cuisine is a unique Vietnamese restaurant that brings both the street food indoors, and traditional family cooking to the everyday city lifestyle. The whole restaurant takes up all floors of the building. On the first floor, a simple open kitchen takes up most of the space – it is designed with traditional Vietnamese elements that helps guests enjoys a comfortable cozy space while stimulate the excitement of seeing their moms cooking tasty dishes back in the house kitchen. On the other side of the ground floor, there is a small seating area with a few tables and a wall filled with pantry and goodies, which also adds a stylish retro look. Upstairs at the main dinning area, the walls are covered in wallpaper made with photos of the traditional market places, which also gives the humble space a funkier edge.
We were told that Chi Hoa keeps their cuisine authentic and offers traditional recipes to their customers; they are also committed to source their ingredients locally and seasonally. It was all validated when we saw that the restaurant was filled with local customers and neighborhood regulars. Everything on the menu looks so good, which makes it hard to narrow down the selection – we ended up ordering a whole round of dishes from appetizers to entrees to side dishes including Spicy BBQ Lemongrass Beef Salad, Steam Clams with Fresh Herbs and Glass Noodles with Soft Shell Crabs. The dishes are very straightforward, it is exactly what the name describes; but with the ultra fresh ingredients and the brilliant pairing of herbs, the dishes reserve the simplicity and pureness of the food yet the flavors are explosively vibrant. We oohed and ahhed through every bite with a large bottle of icy cold beer to share, it was one of the most enjoyable meals we had during the trip.
In order to explore the full menu from cover to cover, we ended the meal with some coconut water, which is served straight out of its shell, an order of homemade coconut ice cream, and an order of traditional sticky rice dessert. To top off all the amazingness throughout the meal, the bill was shockingly affordable, which is something we definitely don’t see in New York City!
We tried and tasted several other restaurants after Chi Hoa, but nothing beats the experience and flavors we had here. It was simple, casual and has an understated style; but the food was nothing but bold and memorable. The restaurant was addictively good that we ended up squeezing in another visit right before we head to the airport to end the trip. If you find yourself in Ho Chi Minh City, this is definitely a must-visit. Here is the link to the restaurant:
Chi Hoa Vietnamese Cuisine: http://www.chihoacuisine.com