This restaurant was recommended to us by a local tour operator when we asked for a place 'which serves good local where the locals go to'. What we were looking for was food that was neither adulterated for the foreign palette nor priced for the tourist wallet.
This is certainly the place to go if you want street-styled food in a relaxed and hygienic environment. The diffused lighting and banana plants makes an idyllic setting, transporting us away from the madness of traffic.
The restaurant serves a variety of noodles, rice dishes and finger food, all at a mere 50% markup from the roadside stall (a mere 50% because as a tourist, you probably do not want to try your luck with your stomach with the street variety). Not knowing what to order from the bewildering choice coupled with waiters who are not able to describe to you, we were invited to walk around the many stalls.
This place is very, very crowded during lunch hour. So, if you have the time, do go a bit later.
See this interesting writeup http://noodlepie.typepad.com/blog/2004/05/streetfree_stre.html
This retaurant has the best Vietnamese food around! Everything from snails to fish to all your four legged friends. It's a must try if you ever visit Ho Chi Minh City! I ate here with 10 of my friends and we all gave it a 10 out of 10!!! Foods great, service is great, atmosphere is good too...
Favorite Dish: The steamed snail in limegrass is so yummy that you actually don't mind it much when the slime slides down your throat. Don't forget to try the desert called: Che Suong Sa Hot Luu, It's a combination of sweet jello with coconut milk heaven.
The name translates as "Delicious Restaurant" in English. It certainly lives up to it's name too. Since I live in Vietnam, I occasionally get tired of eating the local food. However, I never tire of eating here. They have indoor or outdoor eating areas. It's nicely decorated in colorful paint and beautiful foliage. The cooking area is open to diners so you can see how they prepare Vietnam's traditional food. Ngon is popular with locals and expats alike. It's always busy so you may have to wait for a table.
Favorite Dish: My personal favorite is the Ngon Special Salad. It contains banana leaf, shrimp, peanuts and many other 'delicious' ingredients.
One of the hippest restaurants in HCMC, a fairly traditional building surrounded by a kitchen (yes, surrounded). Feels like you're eating in a market, you can go around and watch the scores of chefs cooking. Not tourist-friendly except for the english translations on the menu. Brilliant.
Favorite Dish: Anything