The best Vietnamese restaurants in Canberra

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Where to find the best Vietnamese restaurants in Canberra. Photo: file.

When it comes to global cuisine, Canberra delivers in spades. Our multicultural city has attracted communities and culinary talents from all over the world, giving us a wide variety of restaurants to choose from when picking the next destination for a night out.

It’s no wonder that Vietnamese is a popular choice. From steaming bowls of pho noodle soup to aromatic dishes with delicious meats and plenty of fresh herbs, there’s plenty to choose from no matter your preferences.

With so many great options to choose from all over Canberra, trying to pick just one Vietnamese restaurant to visit for dinner can be an overwhelming choice. That’s why we’ve put together this article with a helpful breakdown of what to look for in a great Vietnamese restaurant, as well as a handy guide to some of Canberra’s top picks.

What makes a great Vietnamese restaurant?

If you’re on the hunt for great Vietnamese, try to keep the following in mind:

  • Varied menu. Vietnamese food is already quite varied, and includes soups, noodles, rice dishes and salads. A great Vietnamese restaurant will have enough dishes available that there’s plenty to choose from without it becoming overwhelming.
  • Able to cater to dietary requirements. Luckily, most Vietnamese food is already gluten free, and there are plenty of dishes that are vegetarian or vegan to begin with, such as vegetable-based broths for soups and san choy bow, the lettuce cups. However, if you maybe want to adjust spice levels or make a dish vegetarian, a great Vietnamese restaurant will be able to meet your needs.
  • Lively atmosphere. No one wants to sit in an awkward and quiet venue while they eat. Great restaurants draw great crowds – look for a venue that is regularly attracting lots of customers to make sure you have a fun night out!
  • Value for money. The cost of the food should reflect the quality of it. Great Vietnamese restaurants have reasonable serving sizes and consistent quality, leaving you feeling satisfied that you haven’t been ripped off.
  • Helpful waitstaff. If you’re new to Vietnamese cuisine or haven’t branched out beyond pho, you might find yourself relying on your waiters to help explain what certain dishes are. Great Vietnamese restaurants will be staffed by friendly and helpful waiters to make sure you have the perfect dining experience.

The best Vietnamese restaurants in Canberra

RiotACT’s editorial team has combed through 20 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.

To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on RiotACT and Facebook as well as maintaining a minimum average of 4/5 stars on Google.

Bistro Nguyen's

Bistro Nguyen’s is located conveniently in the Melbourne Building in the city, and is serving up delicious, authentic Vietnamese food. With exciting and eclectic interior décor and an array of tasty soups, stir fry and other rice dishes, Bistro Nguyen’s is great destination for a group of friends or family.

On Google, ‘Local Guide’ Matty B writes, Was visiting for the long weekend and needed something hot to warm me up, food was great! Just what I needed.”

Au Lac Vegan Cuisine

Fresh, healthy, quality vegan food – that’s what Au Lac is all about. This popular eatery offers an extensive menu of Vietnamese cuisine, with not a single meat or dairy ingredient to be found. All produce is sourced daily, and a select collection of speciality ingredients are imported to create a truly one-of-a-kind dining experience.

On Google, ‘Local Guide’ Rabin Neupane writes, “You do not get good vegetarian restaurants very often. This Au Lac @ Canberra is one of the best vegetarian restaurants I have been with varieties of delicious menu items. Clean and very friendly staff.”

Ms Ba Cô

Ms Ba Cô is a family business serving up traditional family recipes in a cool, casual and convenient setting. Street food may be fast, but it’s always fresh, and Ms Ba Cô uses freshly cut meat and vegetables in all their dishes for the tastiest Vietnamese dishes. Whether you’re in the mood for a light snack, a proper meal or even just a refreshing drink, Ms Ba Cô has something for everyone.

Happy customer Cameron Dawson writes in their Google review, Amazing Vietnamese street food restaurant in the CBD. Staff were super friendly, and the food was amazing and fresh, and great value. Will definitely be frequenting for lunches.”

iPho

iPho is a Vietnamese street food restaurant dedicated to quality and authenticity. Owner Vanessa works hard to prepare the broth for their pho, from making the noodles by hand to preparing the soup over the broth for over a day at a time to produce the richest and tastiest pho possible. Also on their menu are staples of Vietnamese street food including summer rolls, com tam and banh mi.

As Heath Hiddleston writes on Facebook, “Love the unpretentious fit-out and amazing food. Pho broth is flavoursome and their pork chop with broken rice is to diet for. Always a winner here.”

Griffith Vietnamese Restaurant

Griffith Vietnamese is a family-owned and operated business dedicated to providing great food at great prices. They have an extensive menu of classic Vietnamese food and plenty of vegetarian options. Whether you’re a large group out for a meal or it’s date night, the friendly staff at Griffith Vietnamese will ensure a fun and delicious dining experience.

As ‘Local Guide’ Drew Wilkinson writes on Google, “Rates very highly on my grand tour of Vietnamese restaurants in Canberra. The chicken wings were excellent, and the bun was fresh and tasty and unique. Recommended for a lovely, lively meal!”

If you’re looking for more great Asian food in Canberra, check out our other articles on the best Thai, Chinese, and Asian fusion restaurants in Canberra for some great recommendations.

Your experience with Vietnamese restaurants in Canberra

Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback, if you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.

Have you been to any of the Vietnamese restaurants listed above? Did we miss your favourite? Share your thoughts and feedback below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Vietnamese food healthy?
Some of the defining traits of Vietnamese cuisine are its use of fresh ingredients, reliance on herbs and vegetables, and how little oil its recipes use. As such, Vietnamese food is considered one of the healthiest and most balanced cuisines in the world.
Are there vegan options in Vietnamese cuisine?
Like most Asian cuisines, Vietnamese food features a lot of dishes that are already vegan or can easily be made vegan. Replacing bone broths with vegetable broths and introducing tofu or vegan meats to your dishes can be a great way of turning a classic pho into a vegan-friendly meal.
How expensive is Vietnamese food?
Vietnamese food is a relatively inexpensive cuisine because it largely relies on affordable and easily sourced ingredients. Staples of Vietnamese cuisine such as ginger, coriander, pork, chicken, noodles, and an array of spices can be found in many grocery stores as well as Asian grocers at very affordable price points.
What is pho?
Pho is a noodle soup dish consisting of broth, rice noodles, herbs and meat. The noodles in pho are often translucent, and the flavours of the dish are very fresh and aromatic. Pho is considered Vietnam’s national dish.
Can I make Vietnamese dishes at home?
Absolutely! Vietnamese dishes are overwhelmingly simple to make, just make sure you have access to quality ingredients and the right equipment, such as woks for stir fry dishes or a big crock pot for soups.

What's Your Opinion?


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97 Responses to The best Vietnamese restaurants in Canberra
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Serina Huang Serina Huang 4:17 pm 04 Nov 16

Fabulous lineup of places, Elias. I feel hungry just reading this. Your passion for banh mi is infectious.

avasiniorez avasiniorez 9:34 am 02 Nov 16

Were you able to find one that serves it with meatballs? I had it during the multicultural but I don’t know if they own a business in canberra that we can go to.

Ginaval said :

Common variations include Banh Mi with meatballs or chicken meat
I love the banh mi at Le Saignon, but I really wish they did it with meatballs. I had once tried it in Sydney, a very cute corner store, and it was to die for. Not to be rude though, the banh mi at Le Saignon is really amazing! I don’t feel bad after eating it, because it is also quite healthy!

Matt Donnelly Matt Donnelly 8:15 am 01 Nov 16

On weekdays, Vietnam House in Woden offers banh mi for around $6. All variations are quite good, but meatball is my recommendation.

Rolld in Woden serves banh mi, too. If McDonald’s made Vietnamese rolls, I imagine they would look and taste much like Rolld’s.

Ginaval Ginaval 9:17 am 31 Oct 16

Common variations include Banh Mi with meatballs or chicken meat
I love the banh mi at Le Saignon, but I really wish they did it with meatballs. I had once tried it in Sydney, a very cute corner store, and it was to die for. Not to be rude though, the banh mi at Le Saignon is really amazing! I don’t feel bad after eating it, because it is also quite healthy!

amsfromaus amsfromaus 5:12 pm 27 Oct 16

My favourite is Saigon Fresh in Gungahlin. I’ve been getting them from David and his family since they ran The Hub Asian Market Gungahlin years ago. I’ve found that they are consistent in their flavours and the freshness of their ingredients. I’ve never been a fan of the park but love the chicken banh mi.

Leon Arundell Leon Arundell 5:12 pm 27 Oct 16

This reads more like “Advertisement for LIttle Saigon” than “Best Of Canberra – Banh Mi.”

Rollersk8r Rollersk8r 9:53 am 24 Oct 16

I don’t mind a Banh Mi – but my complaint is they’re all identical. There’s no point of difference. They all seem to use exactly the same strips of processed meat. Would be so much better if the pork was fresh.

There’s a tiny little stall inside the coffee shop opposite Little Saigon and their rolls are EXACTLY the same as Little Saigon’s, which are also the same as the place in the Gungahlin shopping centre. They’re always good but never great.

TuggLife TuggLife 4:35 pm 22 Oct 16

ziggy said :

Shameless advertising for little saigon. You’re worse than John Laws with your cash for comment. The truth must come out.

Yeah, what was that about? And the incredulity at finding one in Goulburn was a bit weird.

I’m not a massive fan of mystery meat, so I don’t have them often, but Saigon Fresh in Queanbeyan do a good one with lots of chilli. The bakery at Mawson is good, too.

Holden Caulfield Holden Caulfield 3:33 pm 21 Oct 16

Saigon Foodies in Kingston also worth a try.

And this morning I discovered the Vietnamese take away at Curtin shops, who served me an authentic Viet coffee with my not-so-Viet egg’n’bacon roll. I’d like to go back to try their banh mi and pho.

ziggy ziggy 2:39 pm 21 Oct 16

Shameless advertising for little saigon. You’re worse than John Laws with your cash for comment. The truth must come out. Saigon Fresh in the Gunga is miles ahead.

Role Role 1:38 pm 21 Oct 16

The Little Saigon Banh Mi was not so good 6 months ago so the new owners must have changed it in some way.

Vietnam House 2 did a good Banh Mi except that they pre-made them which is unfortunate. They closed down 2 days ago sadly.

pierce pierce 1:37 pm 21 Oct 16

I haven’t tried Little Saigon but the iPho banh mi is an abomination. Stingy on filling and doesn’t even use real Saigon rolls. Bistro Nguyen on Northbourne is pretty great. Roll’d in the Canberra centre is terrible.

Robert of Braddon Robert of Braddon 1:12 pm 21 Oct 16

Little Saigon is a favourite for us: we love their spring roll and noodle salad. The only improvement needed — a liquor licence so I can enjoy my salad with a nice little glass of joy 😉

rubaiyat rubaiyat 10:37 pm 13 Sep 15

I used to not be a fan of any Canberra Vietnamese, having spent so much time in all the great Vietnamese in Cabramatta, Flemington, Regents Park, Cabra Vale, Bankstown and North Richmond, but today I’ve changed my mind.

I just had lunch today in the new Pho Phu Quoc restaurant in Dickson and we were really impressed. Different from the Sydney Vietnamese, but really great in their own right. Vietnamese food is tremendously varied, I’ve learnt not to expect the same food in every restaurant. If it is familiar it is usually not in a good way.

Pho Phu Quoc nailed every dish we tried, some I hadn’t seen before and they had a brilliant finale of dessert that left us with huge smiles on our faces as we walked out the door.

Now that I’ve lost two of my favourite Vietnamese restaurants in Sydney, not going back since they changed hands, I’d like for Pho Phu Quoc to just pick up on some of my all time love dishes like the Cambodian Pho in Flemington, and the Raw Beef and Lemon and Offal Pho that I used to have in Bankstown, and I’d be a very happy man.

btw When are we going to get some variety in style eg the vertical flame BBQs with the firey chilli sauces they have in Cabra Vale? Restaurants don’t have to all sing from the same song book. It’s OK to be different, sure the punters might be intimidated but this is not the Canberra of even 5 years ago let alone the 80’s.

LordPanda LordPanda 12:48 pm 06 Jan 15

Having come back from the holidays and visiting places like Cabramatta, Canley Heights, and Sydney Chinatown, I’m struck by how average and unambitious the Vietnamese and Chinese food scene is here in Canberra.

Dickson MK’s, Can Tho, Phu Quoc, Pho Viet, Simply Pho, Griffith Vietnamese, Tu Do, and the likes would simply be steamrolled by the likes of Huong Xua, Bao Truong, Tuong Lai, Thanh Binh, Pho Minh, Tan Viet etc.

To be fair, part of the mediocrity of the restaurants in question here are caused by the relatively low Vietnamese population and patronage, the lack of competition, and customers that probably don’t know any better or are just happy to accept things the way they are. It’s always disappointing visiting these Vietnamese restaurants and seeing how Chinese-Takeaway-esque the menu is, no doubt to cater to their predominately western audience (which is understandable – you got to pay the bills). I’ve lost count at how many times I’ve had to explain what Bun Dac Biet is or the odd occasion when I’ve received a Com Tam with normal rice instead of broken rice.

The Saigon place at the front of Woden Westfields is pretty decent and there was another establishment that was opposite Sammy’s but that got closed down and replaced by a Thai restaurant I believe. A shame because that restaurant made a decent Banh Xeo, Com Tam Dac Biet and Sam Bo Luong.

And don’t get me started on the Pork Rolls here in Canberra …

Antagonist Antagonist 12:01 pm 20 Sep 14

Postalgeek said :

I mentioned Hoang Hau in Kingston for pho in another thread. Not promising that it will rock your world, but I got a taste for pho in Vietnam and like the one in Kingston. They also sell it at the Fyshwick markets but I prefer Kingston.

Challenge accepted!

rosscoact rosscoact 5:50 am 20 Sep 14

Antagonist said :

dkNigs said :

On arriving back to Canberra from Vietnam, we had a craving for some delicious Vietnamese and went on the hunt. Apparently it doesn’t exist, the Pho we found was bland, and everything else Australianised like the photo’s above. Is there anywhere that serves authentic Vietnamese food here?

You cannot get a good Pho in Canberra. I have been trying to find a good one for years. Best you go to Sydney for good Pho.

The next best thing is Tom Yum, with the best coming from Ben Than (sp?) in the Hyperdome Food Court. Yeah – you read that right: Hyperdome food court does the best Tom Yum in Canberra.

Yep, got to agree. Simply Pho in Gunners used to be great but the broth was cloudy last time I went there so the flavours were a bit muddled. Might have been an off day but haven’t been back.

There’s an art to making great broth (and not killing people at the same time)

Sandman Sandman 11:31 pm 19 Sep 14

Leon said :

Will your stomachs cope with a visit to the Pho Phu Quoc, which is probably Dickson’s favourite Vietnamese?

In my limited experience the TuDo is excellent if you know which dishes to order, but rather hit-and-miss if you don’t.

I’ll second everything said here. We live in Dickson so Pho Phu Quoc is a natural choice for convenience, but that’s not the only reason we love it so much.

Postalgeek Postalgeek 7:15 pm 19 Sep 14

I mentioned Hoang Hau in Kingston for pho in another thread. Not promising that it will rock your world, but I got a taste for pho in Vietnam and like the one in Kingston. They also sell it at the Fyshwick markets but I prefer Kingston.

John Moulis John Moulis 4:45 pm 19 Sep 14

Actually I like the Saigon Restaurant at Pearce Shops. Good food at reasonable prices, and not too confusing for someone used to prawn cutlets and chow mien at the local Chinese.

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