Thuyen Vo And The Michelin Guide Controversy

Continuing the conversation between Thuyen and me, we explored deeper in the Michelin Guide. She also gave us expert insight about Michelin Restaurants in Vietnam as well as her favorite fine dining spots!

Let’s get started.

The Michelin Guide: A Foodie’s Perspective

I mentioned that since a restaurant was added to the Michelin Guide, it had become incredibly popular, with lines out the door. Thuyen agreed and thought the Michelin Guide was great for tourists and newcomers. She explained that a one-star Michelin rating didn’t necessarily mean fine dining, as it could apply to casual dining spots as well.

Thuyen shared her own experience of dining at a one-star Michelin restaurant in Bangkok, noting that while one-star places could vary, two and three-star restaurants were generally more expensive and offered a more elevated experience. She also mentioned that she followed the Michelin Guide recommendations when traveling, such as for her birthday trips to Singapore and Malaysia.

The Impact of the Michelin Guide on Vietnam’s Culinary Scene

I brought up how the Michelin Guide and the improvement in restaurant quality could attract a better class of tourists to Vietnam. I mentioned that Vietnam is known for attracting tourists who spend very little money, which is something the government is trying to change. By increasing the number of high-quality restaurants, it could help attract tourists who are willing to spend more. I shared my experience of dining at an incredible seven-course meal for my 40th birthday, highlighting that Vietnam has high-end dining options that many might not be aware of.

There’s more to Saigon’s culinary offerings than meets the eye. While the city is famous for its delectable street food, there’s the presence of a thriving high-end dining scene. She enjoyed introducing visitors to this unexpected aspect of Saigon and saw the city evolving into a major culinary hub.

For me, I knew Vietnam had amazing street food – pho, banh mi, all that good stuff. But honestly, before I came here, I figured that was pretty much it. Vietnam seemed like a budget-friendly destination, perfect for backpackers living on a shoestring. That’s definitely true – you can eat incredibly well here for next to nothing.

But then I started seeing pictures online of these fancy cocktail bars and high-end restaurants in Saigon. Places with seven-course meals and wine lists longer than my arm! It totally blew my mind. I had no idea this side of Saigon existed. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still love grabbing a cheap and cheerful “cafe sua da” in the morning. But knowing there are these amazing fine dining options available totally changes my mind. Saigon is starting to feel like a real foodie city, up there with the best of them.

Saigon’s food scene is breaking free from that stereotype of just being cheap street food. It caters to all kinds of budgets and preferences, from casual eats to high-end adventures for the palate.

Thuyen agreed, stating that there are many high-end, expensive restaurants in Vietnam, comparable to those in Europe. She expressed excitement about showcasing this side of Saigon to visitors who often have misconceptions about the culinary scene. She hoped that Saigon, followed by other cities like Hanoi and Da Nang, would become recognized for their culinary experiences, similar to Bangkok.

Thuyen mentioned that travel experiences can vary widely depending on where one stays and what they do. She expressed a desire to change the outside perception of Vietnam as only a street food destination, highlighting that Saigon offers a variety of experiences, including high-end dining.

We both agreed that recommending good places to eat can be challenging, and we often relied on recommendations from a prominent food blogger, JoVal Chan. I joked about how everyone messages her for suggestions. Finally, I asked Thuyen for her top three restaurant recommendations, although she found it hard to choose.

Top Dining Picks in Saigon: A Food Blogger’s Recommendations

Now let’s see a food reviewer’s list, many of you may be waiting for it. Thuyen admitted her top 3 dining picks in Saigon wouldn’t be considered the most traditional Vietnamese experience. Here’s a breakdown of her choices and the reasons behind them:

  1. Pizza 4P’s

Pizza 4P’s stood out for Thuyen as a reliable choice amidst Saigon’s vibrant food scene. What drew her to this Western-style restaurant chain was its commitment to quality and consistency. Pizza 4P’s was renowned for its unique farm-to-table approach, using fresh, locally sourced ingredients to craft pizzas that appealed to both locals and expats alike. The menu featured a variety of pizzas, each with a distinct flavor profile that reflected its artisanal preparation. For Thuyen, Pizza 4P’s offered a comforting escape from the intense flavors of traditional Vietnamese cuisine, providing a familiar taste that she could rely on when seeking a satisfying meal without compromising on quality.

2. The Deck

The Deck captures Thuyen’s attention with its picturesque waterfront location, making it an ideal spot for enjoying scenic sunsets while dining. Situated along the Saigon River, The Deck provides not only a stunning view but also a serene atmosphere perfect for unwinding after a hectic day. Although Thuyen didn’t specify a particular dish, it’s clear that the ambiance and setting play a significant role in her recommendation, making The Deck a must-visit for those seeking a tranquil dining experience in the heart of the city.

3. Kyoto Sushi Restaurant

Thuyen enjoyed the omakase experience at Kyoto Sushi because it allowed her to indulge in a multi-course chef’s choice selection, focusing on fresh sushi. She said that Kyoto offered a casual setting, making it approachable for those who might be intimidated by a typical high-end omakase experience. The reasonable price point is another factor that likely appealed to Thuyen, making it a chance to experience a luxurious dining option without breaking the bank.

Thuyen’s Favorite Vietnamese Food

Thuyen cherished several Vietnamese dishes that held a special place in her culinary journey amidst her exploration of international flavors in Saigon:

  • Bún Riêu: Bun Rieu was a comforting vermicelli noodle soup that resonated with Thuyen for its tomato-crab base, rich flavors, and cultural significance. She often turned to this dish for its comforting warmth and depth of flavor.
  • Phở Hòa Pasteur: Pho Hoa Pasteur offered a unique twist on traditional pho with its distinctive texture and robust broth. Thuyen appreciated its hearty ingredients and savory profile, making it a standout choice for Vietnamese comfort food.
  • Bánh Xèo: Her hometown favorite, Banh Xeo, originated from her hometown and featured a smaller, softer variation of the crispy crepe dish commonly found in Saigon. Its delicate texture and subtle flavors reflected her nostalgia for hometown flavors, showcasing a more nuanced approach to this beloved Vietnamese classic.

Thuyen’s dining recommendations not only highlighted her eclectic taste but also reflected Saigon’s dynamic culinary landscape, where traditional Vietnamese cuisine intersected with international influences.


Thuyen’s culinary journey through Saigon, as highlighted in her dining preferences and favorite Vietnamese dishes, revealed a deep appreciation for both local traditions and international flavors.

Thuyen’s current focus on studying German suggests a personal and educational commitment, potentially indicating a new direction or interest.

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