HCMC Dining Guide

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Drunk Food Mecca

Somehow I've lived here for over a year and a half without realizing that the District 1 stretch of Nguyen Trai, between Cach Mang Tang Tam and Ton That Tung, is a paradise for hungry drunk people. This area is just a few blocks from my house, but it wasn't until a couple of weeks ago that a friend introduced me to the delectable wonders that exist on this magical street.

Finding late night food in Saigon is usually pretty easy, but most nocturnal meals will be restricted to pho and banh mi. On Nguyen Trai, however, things are different. A variety of restaurants serve food throughout the night, and this is where locals come to quench their appetite after they've spent most of the night in a club. A favorite stop of mine is Tan Hai Van, at 158-164 Nguyen Trai, a Chinese place that specializes in dim sum. I believe this restaurant is open 24/7. Awesome.

a crowded Monday night on Nguyen Trai

If you're not in the mood for dim sum the menu offers a huge range of options, including Bali dick. Who doesn't love some dick at 3 in the morning?
To be honest I am far from a connoisseur of dim sum, in fact I've only had it three or four times in my life. However, I think the food here is fantastic. Dim sum is often eaten for breakfast, but the small portions and wide variety make for perfect late-night drunk food. I went with a group of friends this night, and we absolutely pigged out. I'm completely obsessed with dim sum now.

not dim sum, spring rolls

happy campers
I don't know what most of the dim sum dishes we ate were, but they were all delicious. Prices are pretty reasonable as well, especially if you eat in a group. All of that food cost me less than 200,000VND ($10), making a trip to Tan Hai Van well worth your time after getting shitfaced in a nightclub until 4 in the morning.


  1. Yummy!! I love dim sum too. The pictures of those dumplings look so scrumptious. I typically pay about 25 dollars or more for a breakfast dim sum here in the US. The foods are generally cheaper in VN.

    Mike, I am wondering whether you might have a difficult time of adjusting to the cost of living in the states if or when you are deciding to return home. What do you think?

    BTW, do restaurants allow patrons to smoke cigarettes inside their establishment? The local Vietnameses smoke quite a bit as I remembered way back then when I was there. Thanks.

    1. I'm not planning on going back to the U.S. for a few more years, although that can always change. Obviously the cost of living will be a big adjustment whenever I move back, although that is somewhat relative because salaries are higher as well. I'm sure it will still take some time to get used to what things cost there though.

      As for smoking, it is allowed basically everywhere. Only a few of the more Western-oriented restaurants and cafes ban it. A lot of people do smoke here, although it's only Vietnamese guys that do it. I'm not sure if I've ever seen a local woman smoke.

    2. Thank you so much for your promptness in answering my questions. In my humble opinion, you're BY FAR the most reliable and always consistence in replying to your reader's questions (not too many bloggers take the time to do that). Therefore, I must complement you on it.

      It looks like you are having a wonderful time in VN. I hope that you will continue to enjoy your life there. BTW, do you plan on traveling to South Korea, Japan, Mongolia or even venturing into Russia?

      Once again, thanks for taking the time to write and post. We are so addicted to your website, we are checking on and discussing about different topics that you post almost daily. We find that to be so therapeutic. Aren't we crazy or what....hahaha... Bye for now.

    3. Oops!!! I mean to write "compliment" not "complement" my bad. Sorry.

    4. Haha, I understood what you meant. I think it's important for writers to interact with their readers, so I always make a point to respond to questions and comments - I don't understand bloggers that don't.

      I hope to travel to a lot of countries eventually, and those four are certainly on the list - I may stop in South Korea when I fly back to the U.S. for a Christmas visit, we'll see. If by some chance I end up getting a job in Europe when I leave Vietnam I'll probably take the Trans-Siberian railway through Russia to get there.

      Also I'm so happy to hear that you and your family talk about what I write - that really means a lot to me. If you don't mind me asking, where are you from?