Visit Vietnam: Country's cuisine is front and center

The MICHELIN Guide for Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City excites both diners and restaurateurs



Sep 7, 2023 - 3 min read

 Visit Vietnam: Country's cuisine is front and center

Famous for its diverse culture, rich history, stunning landscapes, and delicious cuisine, Vietnam is firmly on top of the ardent traveler's list of places to visit. With borders now open, Vietnam's food and beverage industry is expected to attract many local and international diners eager to return to or experience for the first time the exotic tastes of the country's world-famous culinary delights. Guests from all over the world can once again experience authentic Vietnamese cuisine in its full glory – the complex flavors with the perfect mix of spicy, bitter, sweet, salty, and sour. The country's colonial past and French influence are hinted at in its many delicacies, mainly sandwiches, soups, and pastries, and vibrant coffee culture.

Proof of Vietnam tourism's comeback is the surge in guests. Foreign visitors in June 2023 alone were estimated at 975,010 – a 427% increase from the same month last year. Total international arrivals from January to June 2023 – the majority of which were from neighboring countries in Asia – was at 5,574,969, up a staggering 1,248.7% from the same period in 2022. With the reinstatement of a 90-day multiple-entry Vietnam visa (e-visa) for international tourists which started last August 15, coming to and staying longer in Vietnam has become even more enticing. Having to renew an e-visa after 30 days is now a thing of the past.

Along with the influx of visitors comes the growth of the food and beverage sector, with market value expected to rise by 18% in 2023 compared to 2022 and reach an estimated revenue of VND720 billion (around US$30 million). 

More to do than zoom around Ho Chi Minh City

Apart from being Vietnam's most populous city of roughly 9 million, Ho Chi Minh City is famous for the motorbikes that zigzag along its streets daily. The metropolis is busy indeed and that is evident in the number of vehicles and pedestrians out and about. It would be a more satisfying travel experience if a visitor slows down and savors Ho Chi Minh City's sights, sounds, and tastes. The city formerly known as Saigon is known for its historical memorials such as the War Remnants Museum, gigantic skyscrapers, and incense-filled temples like the Jade Emperor and Giac Lam pagodas. All of these make the former French colonial city worth at least four days of your time.    

Hanoi is for heritage and nature lovers

Located on the banks of the Red River, the Vietnamese capital Hanoi is the site for well-kept colonial buildings, ancient temples, delectable cuisine, pulsing nightlife, and rare silks and exotic handicrafts. It also boasts of a multicultural community with Chinese, French, and Russian influences. For a moment's drive, one can visit the countryside – home to greenery through parks, traditional villages, and lush mountains with trails leading to breathtaking waterfalls. Ha Long Bay remains one of Hanoi's most famous tourist attractions.

The Michelin Guide comes to town

These two Vietnamese cities are undoubtedly must-visits for those into culture and history. Food lovers, however, are in for a unique treat as these destinations have been deemed so gastronomically sophisticated that they now have their own MICHELIN Guide. This esteemed kingmaker in the culinary world bestows up to three MICHELIN stars on selected restaurants based on excellence. The awarding or loss of a star can make or break an establishment. For the inaugural guide to Vietnam, 103 restaurants made it to the list of recommendations – 48 in Hanoi and 55 in Ho Chi Minh City.

"This is just the beginning of the MICHELIN Guide’s journey in Vietnam, and our inspectors have been more than pleased to have discovered many gastronomic spots in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and I am sure, many more in the coming years,” said Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the MICHELIN Guide.

“Vietnam is a cornucopia of influences so there is something for every type of guest. Whether you're looking for old-school, comforting Vietnamese dishes or avante-garde, experimental fare that blows the mind and makes for a good conversation piece back home, you'll find it here," Randy Ng, Technical Account Manager for TableCheck.

Below are some of the establishments recommended by MICHELIN Guide in Vietnam that use TableCheck as their reservation platform to further elevate their guests' dining experience:

Octo Tapas Resto bar

Octo Tapas Restobar's main menu is grouped into “carnivores,” “cold meat,” “pan,” “para picar,” “from the sea,” “classic tapas”, and “signature tapas”. But the establishment is famous for its signature pulpo a l’octo – a braised octopus dish with truffle mash and sauce made with the braising stock of the octopus, among other elements. It makes everything in-house and sources its ingredients locally. What's a restobar without its famous spirits? Octo boasts of many cocktail concoctions; red, white, and sparkling house sangrias; and high-end wines. Octo is perfect for grabbing something light to eat, swinging by for a quick cocktail, or having a full night of feasting.

T.U.N.G. dining

Located at the heart of Hanoi and a stone's throw away from St. Joseph’s Cathedral and Hoan Kiem Lake, T.U.N.G. dining is a breath of fresh air in the capital city's restaurant scene. Its playful yet serious take on cuisine is evident in the acronym, which stands for “twisted, unique, natural, gastronomic” – and perhaps has a little something to do with the name of its founder, Chef Hoang Tung. The restaurant is proud of its 20-course tasting menu, craft beers, fresh ingredients, and avoidance of fat and cream to keep the dishes on the delicious yet healthy side.

Nén Light

Nén Light promotes and explores Vietnam’s culinary landscape through local ingredients and incredible creativity. Its trademarked Sto:ry Menu concept allows diners to experience a multi-sensory journey that satisfies the palate and awakens the senses. It is storytelling and culinary style. Each Sto:ry Menu has a main concept with smaller “stories” – courses in the menu – that aim to delight and invoke pleasure—Nén Light also champions conscious dining out of respect for nature and love of its Vietnamese heritage.

There is no doubt that Vietnam's dining scene is as dynamic as ever and ready to receive visitors with open arms. TableCheck is there as the go-to reservation system for the country's finest restaurants.  

Trusted by over 8,000 hospitality operators worldwide, TableCheck empowers the best restaurants in Vietnam to deliver exceptional experiences to their guests and elevate their dining offerings to new heights.

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