Header photo courtesy of Chôm Chôm
With its fresh, herbaceous flavours, Vietnamese cuisine is right up there with Thai and Japanese as one of the most popular cuisines in Hong Kong. But while we love how easy it is to get a bowl of phở or a bánh mì (also known as French sandwiches in some older restaurants), not all are made equal—and those two dishes certainly do not represent the entirety of Vietnamese cuisine. From old-school hole-in-the-wall noodle joints to contemporary restaurants dishing out inventive fare, here are our favourite Vietnamese restaurants in Hong Kong.
While Vietnamese fine-dining restaurant Quest by Que is sadly no longer with us, Chef Que has been busy at work over the last year or so with Nhau, his convivial contemporary Vietnamese eatery in Sheung Wan. Whet your appetite with hamachi bowl ($180), a cool and refreshing salad of rice noodles topped with hamachi fish, before tucking into the signature grilled lemongrass pork collar ($180) and banh mi tacos ($120).“Nhậu” which is the Vietnamese word for “together,” is also shorthand for a cultural tradition of “drinking and feasting”—fittingly, the restaurant does a mean weekend brunch, where $280 will get you two hours of unlimited wine, beer, and cocktails.
Nhau, 12 Circular Pathway, Sheung Wan | (+852) 9166 4409
With its graffiti-inspired mural of Miss Saigon, slick black-and-gold décor, and menu of trendy cocktails, Xi Xup has plenty of style—and thankfully, the substance to match. Helmed by husband-and-wife team Lewis Dai (who co-founded Bread and Beast) and Vietnamese expat Kay Mai, Xi Xup is a vibrant, modern homage to the Saigonese street food the couple had in Ho Chi Minh City’s bustling hẻm (alleyways) in the early days of their courtship. About 80 percent of the restaurant’s ingredients are sourced from Vietnam, and many of Xi Xup’s dishes are made faithfully from Mai’s family recipes. Beyond classics like beef phở ($98) and bánh mì ($78), you’ll also find authentic street eats like stir-fried snails ($58), grilled beef in betel leaves ($78), and bánh tráng nướng Đà Lạt ($88)—a crispy rice paper pancake loaded with egg, cheese, pork pâté, and other toppings that is often likened to Vietnamese pizza.
Xi Xup, 70–72 Chik Chuen Street, Tai Wai | (+852) 9389 2269
Inspired by Hanoi’s outdoor bia hơi drinking tradition, Chôm Chôm is a lively restaurant and watering hole from Black Sheep Restaurants. Though you won’t be able to get fresh beer for less than $4 like in Hanoi, Chôm Chôm more than makes up for it with its fun atmosphere and street food-inspired menu. Pair cold pints with salty, delicious snacks like the crispy VFC wings ($108), grilled tiger prawns ($118), and roasted bone marrow ($128). For something a little more filling, try the phở-braised short rib lettuce wraps ($208) or Shaking Beef ($228), a juicy tenderloin served with watercress, cherry tomatoes, salt and pepper lime dip, and a side of rice.
Chôm Chôm, 58–60 Peel Street, Central | (+852) 2810 0850
Located in the mini-food haven of Kau U Fong, this low-key restaurant specialises in bún (Vietnamese rice noodles). The founder, Brian Woo, travelled to Vietnam to learn how to make bún from Nguyen Thi Thành, a Ho Chi Minh City noodle seller who skyrocketed to fame after Anthony Bourdain rhapsodised about her food on No Reservations. As at Nguyen’s stall, the main attraction here is the bún bò Huế ($118), a bowl of slippery vermicelli with chả huế pork sausage, beef balls, beef brisket, and slices of rare beef in a rich beef broth. That being said, Cô Thành isn’t a one-trick pony—there are plenty of other satisfying noodle dishes, as well as a seriously good selection of banh mi (we like the bánh mì truyền thống, which comes loaded with five types of pork charcuterie) and small plates. Make sure you arrive early, because just like at Nguyen’s eatery, there’s almost always a crowd.
Cô Thành, 2–4 Kau U Fong, Central
Despite the fact that chef-proprietor John Nguyen is most famous for his tenure as Chôm Chôm’s head chef, don’t expect to find any street snacks and bia hơi vibes at Xuân. This modern northern Vietnamese-style restaurant is inspired by the legendary 18th-century Vietnamese poet of the same name, whose portraits hang over the moody, stylish space. Though you will find a signature beef phở ($168) on the menu, Xuan’s broth is saltier, richer, and deeper in flavour than the light and herbaceous southern-style broth most people are familiar with, and comes topped with beef tongue and oxtail, rather than brisket. That being said, you would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t try some of Xuan’s other signatures, like the cơm gà Hội An ($168), a modern take on chicken rice featuring hand-pulled chicken, duck egg chicken meatloaf, a fried egg, and turmeric garlic chicken rice.
Xuân, 18 Luen Fat Street, Wan Chai | (+852) 2891 1177
Inspired by the former French protectorate of the same name, this upscale eatery serves cuisine from Hué—Vietnam’s former capital and the historical “city of emperors”—in a distinctly colonial-style setting designed to evoke French Indochina. Questionable romanticising of colonialism aside, An Nam is undeniably elegant, and the food is suitably luxurious, with mains like a whole wok-fried tamarind crab ($568), braised duck with young coconut ($188), and braised Wagyu beef cheek in red wine ($298).
While its name references the Hương River in stately Huế, this Causeway Bay restaurant is decidedly no-frills. The old-school décor might be interpreted as being deliberately retro at first glance, but Perfume River’s actually been around for over 40 years, and has attracted a steady, consistent stream of regulars with its casual Hong Kong-style Vietnamese food. The massive menu can be a bit daunting, but you can’t go wrong with the cooked beef phở ($55), phở with fried Vietnamese salami ($55), or beef cubes with fried rice in tomato sauce ($90). The noodle portions are on the smaller side, but we just see that as an opportunity to try more dishes.
Perfume River, 89 Percival Street, Causeway Bay | (+852) 2576 2240
For fans of Cantonese-style hot pot, this cheerful new addition to Causeway Bay’s dining scene is a must-try. So Tam has only been officially open for a little over a month, but it has already caught the eye of the city’s foodies with its Vietnamese-style hot pot. Try the deluxe Vietnamese hot pot ($248), which comes with either chicken or crab broth, clams, beef, vegetables, and vermicelli—alternatively, if you’re looking for an affordable lunch set, try the bánh mì chả lụa set ($68), which comes with a pork sausage bánh mì and So Tam’s soup of the day.
So Tam, 2/F, Emperor Watch & Jewellery Centre, 8 Russell Street, Causeway Bay | (+852) 2323 1299