Vietnam Country Guide



Eating Out

Street side eateries in Vietnam are the destinations for cheap eats and typically advertise pho and com. Though com literally means rice, the sign means the restaurant serves a plate of rice accompanied with fish or meat and vegetables. Com is used to indicate eating in general, even when rice is not served. Though eating along the side streets may look filthy, these eateries are generally safe so long as you avoid undercooked food.
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Side street cook by Thomas Schoch

Most restaurants and cafes in Vietnam will have a bewildering variety of food available. It is very common for menus to be up to 10-15 pages. These will include all types of Vietnamese food, plus some token western food, possibly some Chinese and maybe pad thai (Thai dish) as well. It is generally best to stick with the specialty of the area as this food will be the freshest and also the best prepared.

Be advised that when dining in a restaurant, it is common practice for the waiters to place a plastic packet (stamped with the restaurant's name) containing a moist towelette on your table. They are not free and cost 2,000-4,000 dongs. If you open it, you will be charged for it. Also, peanuts or other nuts will be offered to you while you are browsing the menu. Those are not free, either. Those are not free and you will be charged if you eat any.

Restaurant in Dalat by Diane Selwyn

All Vietnamese restaurants are controlled by the government and some are fully government owned. Opening times for most restaurants are 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., some may open even earlier. In the 24-hour restaurants, there will be two prices, the price is normal from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and doubled from 10:00 p.m to 6:00 a.m.

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