Many expats in HCMC grow attached to the city after they’ve been living here a while, and the ever-present feeling of missing your home country begins to fade. Even the most hardened expats, though, generally start to get homesick around holidays. This is especially true of Christmas, since the holiday is focused on family and being at home. And, of course, one of the most important aspects of the Christmas season is the food. So a restaurant where you can get a good Christmas dinner, either with your HCMC crew or with visiting family, is a valuable commodity. For that reason, we have put together a list of our picks for the five best Christmas dinners you can get in HCMC. We’ve made sure to diversify the places on this list, so you have a selection of different types of food to eat on what will hopefully be a very happy holiday.
Le Corto — 5D Nguyen Sieu, District 1
Kicking off the list is a traditional Christmas dinner banquet, although probably a bit fancier than what you’ve had around your family’s dinner table in the past. Le Corto is an elegant French restaurant, and the set menu of five courses sounds as mouth-watering as you’d expect from such an establishment.
Diners will start off with a poached egg topped with warm mayonnaise and truffle flavor. They will then get a plate of foie gras with home-cooked bread and jam, before moving onto scallop ravioli. After a break to let your body digest the food, a tradition customary to French dining, the main course is served: slow-cooked turkey breast with black garlic, chestnuts, and a morel sauce. To finish things up, a chocolate log and ice cream are served for dessert.
Le Corto’s Christmas dinner is not cheap (1.55 million VND/person), but the quality and presentation of the food are absolutely amazing, the definition of a proper Christmas dinner.
Jake’s BBQ — 50 Pasteur, District 1
Jake’s also serves a traditional Christmas menu, but the down-home barbecue culinary approach of the restaurant gives the same dishes a drastically different style and flavor. Whereas somewhere like Le Corto may focus more on lighter, subtler flavors and textures, Jake’s imbues its dishes with rich and full-bodied deliciousness, just what you would expect from the holiday version of an American-Style barbecue feast.
You’ll get four non-dessert courses during the meal, including homemade smoked turkey with cranberry sauce, honey-baked ham, cheddar and chive scalloped potatoes, and bacon-wrapped green beans. All of them are dripping with flavor, often in the form of bacon grease or juices from the meat. If, by some miracle, you can find it within yourself to down a bit of sugar after all that, you’ll enjoy a home-cooked pumpkin spice cheesecake. The whole thing will cost around 800.000 VND per person.
Reviews of the dinner rave about the large portions and the casual, friendly environment. This is not a jacket-and-tie kind of venue, but it’s excellent for a light-hearted (and full-bodied) holiday meal.
Oc Oanh — 534 Vinh Khanh, District 4
Oc Oanh is definitely an all-Vietnamese venue and does not observe Christmas in any way. There is no Christmas menu, the atmosphere is nothing like what you would associate with Christmas, and they do not decorate for the holiday. Still, it is the best way we can think of to experience the pulse-pounding dining scene of Saigon. In other words, if you want to feel at one with the festive spirit of Saigon for your Christmas, this is the place for you.
Oc Oanh has the menu of a typical Vietnamese shellfish eatery. That is, they have items like crab, clams, shrimp, and oysters, all fried in delicious sauces. They also have meat dishes, like frog, beef, and fish. And, of course, they have the sea snail dishes that would probably be considered on the exotic side by Western standards but which are a favorite of the Saigonese.
Oc Oanh is one of the most popular destinations in the city for special occasion dining, at least among the locals. You can expect, therefore, to see many Vietnamese families having their Christmas dinners here if you intend to go during the Holiday. Why not join the Christmas crowd and at least wear a Santa hat?
Saigon Outcast Christmas Potluck –No. 188/1, Nguyễn Văn Hưởng, D2
If you are someone who would rather spend Christmas dinner with friends and community members than with people who are cooking your food for you, the potluck at Saigon Outcast is going to make you very happy. The cover charge is only 50.000 VND, and each attendee must bring a dish to share around with everyone else. The variety of the dishes brought is fantastic, too; last year, they had Thai Tom Yum soup, Korean Gochujang chicken, English Beef Stroganoff, homemede Vietnamese spring rolls… the list goes on. The cover includes a complimentary beer and all the home-cooked food you can eat.
This is a great way to get very full on Christmas Eve while getting to know others living or traveling in Saigon, and is a very good example of the Christmas spirit. Note that this event takes place on the evening of the 23rd.
B3 Steakhouse — 90 Nguyen Hue (Floor 1), District 1
This list would not be complete without an entry specifically for meat lovers, and B3 does steak right. The steakhouse spares no expense to deliver the best meat possible. It is the type of place that imports meat from year-old Japanese cows descended from royalty and raised on a diet consisting exclusively of caviar and Polish mountain spring water.
B3 made a great decision in sticking with what they do best for Christmas instead of going with the traditional Christmas menu of ham and turkey. Their holiday meal instead consists of a good ol’ fashioned steak with special cuts. They have not finalized the menu for this year yet, but last year’s gave diners a choice of three portion sizes of the house specialty: Wagyu Striploin Marbling 5/6. For those not versed in steak lingo, that is a very premium cut indeed. The menu also gives a choice of two appealing appetizers (either French snails or seared scallops) and two desserts (Pavlova Raspberry and Steakhouse Gourmand). Expect to spend from 800.000 to 1.6 million per person, depending on the portion size of steak ordered.
Another plus of B3’s Christmas meal experience is its balcony seating. The restaurant looks out onto Nguyen Hue, the city’s more upscale alternative to the backpacker street, but the balcony is not so far up to where the crowds of holiday shoppers and sightseers on the street seem far away. Rather, you get to experience the Christmas spirit as if you were in the crowd yourself, although you get a good amount of breathing room. It’s a delightful way to spend Christmas evening.
We hope this list can help you make plans for your Christmas (or Christmas Eve) Dinner. In the case of any location on this list, we’d recommend calling ahead and booking a table beforehand, as the crowds can get pretty wild in Saigon on the 24th.