Meals are meant to be shared. Our ancestors didn’t hunt and gather, and then toil over a fire for hours to create a meal just so they could eat it alone. No, they wanted us to share in the fruits of their labor so that we could enjoy the company of others while we ate. It’s not a coincidence that the word “companion” comes from the Latin word for “with bread”, so maybe it would be nice to have some shared meals in Saigon every now and then. Here are some options for family style dining in Saigon that you can try with your actual family, closest mates, or travel buddies!
Looking for other dining options? Check out Little TokyoAuthentic Japanese Food in Saigon
We’re going to focus on establishments that offer a meal experience that is perfect for groups, with plenty of food options to choose from and shared tables that encourage conversation and camaraderie. We wont be including some types of food though (Pizza, Mexican, Indian, etc) – even if they can be shared, it’s also something you can just as easily order in at home. We’re going to focus on places where they serve food meant for sharing on site, where you can enjoy a reasonably priced meal, with reasonably fun people. Enjoy.
There are a lot of Koreans in Saigon, and it shows in the quality and range of Korean dining options available. However, of all the ones we’ve tried, Matchandeul is our favorite. Located in the heart of Korean Town (Phu My Hung in District 7), this place always seems to be lively and busy, but not so much so that you can’t get a seat. The service is attentive and helpful, which is great if you’re new to Korean barbecue. The banchan (side dishes) makes this resto stand out from the competition. Excellent variety, and they’re not shy on offering refills. If you don’t feel like traveling to the Dark Side, definitely try out other places as I’ve not yet been disappointed with sharing grilled meat. Plan K is a decent option in Thao Dien.
Hai Di Lao Sichuan Hotpot
Hotpot dining will be a very new experience for people who haven’t been to China or other parts of Asia, but it’s definitely worth a try. Hai Di Lao is a chain restaurant originally from China, but have since expanded to other countries. There are several locations in Saigon, all of which are thankfully in easily accessible malls. The concept is simple enough – choose your soup base and ingredients, then throw everything in. There are a bunch of other hotpot places, but Hai Di Lao will be the most approachable for first-timers. The menu is digital and in English, with prices and portions clearly listed. Service is very attentive, and you’ve got a fully loaded sauce and spice station to create your perfect dipping concoction. Can get quite rumbunctious, especially with kids running around. Try to book ahead for a room. But if you like busy-ness, it’s perfect in the main area.
Here are some of their locations:
Vietnamese Lau and Nuong
While we’re talking about hotpot and bbq anyway, let’s not forget about the Vietnamese versions which are just as delicious. Lau is a type of hotpot that typically uses a light broth (not overly oily, unlike the Sichuan/Chinese version) – while nuong is basically just grilled meat. Both are great for groups, and you can find them all over the city. We’re putting them here together, because it’s you can find Lau and/or Nuong places at every other street corner. It’s a great way to try a bunch of different dishes without breaking the bank. Beers are cheap, and crowds can get particularly “cheerful” while doing their “1-2-3s”! I would recommend trying out one of the places along the creek – either along Hoang Sa, or it’s twin road Truong Sa. Rain or shine, it will be a great group dining experience.
The Greek Place
We’ve written about this place before, you can tell we’re big fans. The have several mezze (a.k.a small plates) optoins which are perfect for sharing, but the main draw here is the whole roast leg of lamb. I have a mind to come here and just order 3 kilos all to myself… but it would be socially irresponsible to not share with a few other people. It’s easy enough to get to, just head to the north-western end of Hai Ba Trung, and go left, under the bridge. This place won’t necessarily be the most authentic Greek dining experience you’ll ever have, but it’s damn tasty and good for groups. Make sure to order ahead for the roast leg of lamb.
This will be the most expensive place on this list, but we feel we need to include it because tapas are just so perfect for sharing. This Spanish restaurant, located in the heart of District 1. The space has a roomy indoors seating area, that’s great for family style dining where you can share several dishes without being cramped up. The menu has all the classics like patatas bravas, and large-ish plates of paella. At these prices, it’s not going to be a regular place for most people, but it makes for a great treat every now and then. Got family or friend visiting and you don’t yet want to have them sit on those small plastic chairs? This is a good spot to try.
The Gangs Central
Was surprised with this new entry. Have been to one of their locations before, but this new one really just cranked up the level of awesome. This is perfect for groups of travelers who want to have a taste of well made local food, and a reasonably modern setting, with good and attentive service – or just expats who want to try something different. There will still be lots of shouting and loud music, but the group dining experience is definitely a step up from what you’d otherwise get from the more oldschool Lau and Nuong places. The menu is quite extensive and the food is very well made with large servings meant for sharing. It can get very crowded, so best to book in advance. Keep your phones ready for waiters and service crew who are doing their best at hitting their choreographed dance moves.
Brick and Barrel
This place was made with group dining in mind. It’s a huge space, with long communal tables for big groups. It’s nothing fancy, but it does the job well. The menu is simple and to the point. It’s great for when you just want some good Western-style comfort food to share with a bunch of friends, without having to think too much about it. Ok, we said, no pizza – but think pizzas, burgers, chicken fingers and some of the best wings in Saigon. It’s located in D1, and can quite busy on weekends. Servings are large and meant for sharing, so come with a group and be ready to eat!
D4 Seafood Street (Oc – Shellfish)
Best for last. District 4 might be a dining wasteland, but this street is an oasis. Still very much under the radar for the majority of tourists, and even for a lot of expats. This part of town is bright, noisy, busy, and full of character. This is the perfect place to come for a big seafood feast to share. There are literally dozens of restaurants to choose from, but they all pretty much serve the same things so just choose one that’s busy but still with empty seats (which will invariably be those small plastic red ones). You want to sit where at least a few other people are already seated, as that’s generally a good sign. The menu will be in Vietnamese, but most will have photos so just point to what looks good and they’ll bring it out. This is the perfect place to come for reasonably fresh seafood at reasonable prices – and you can’t beat the atmosphere.
There’s also a lot of good Vegetarian Options in SaigonNoteworthy Vegetarian Restaurants in Saigon Tried and Tested
Meals were meant to be shared. There’s something about sharing food that just brings people together. And what better way to bond with family you haven’t seen in a while (or newly made friends that you’ll be traveling with) than over a good meal?
If you’re ever in Saigon, be sure to check out these family style restaurants – you won’t be disappointed!
Got other suggestions? Drop us a comment below!