Inviting the Good Savory Fortune in Chinatown

By Christina Kim - November 03, 2015

A trip to Chinatown is never complete without food.
(Or anywhere for that matter, anyway)

Chinatown is like, the busiest area in any city; populated by mostly the Chinese (note the name of the place itself) and Asian settlers in the country.

There is really no place like Chinatown.

You will usually find the familiar sight of an archway entrance bearing the words Chinatown (probably with Chinese characters too) to tell you that you have arrived in the territory; I mean area, in almost every country where they are found.

It is a distinctive feature.
You can't miss it.

Otherwise, just follow the sounds; the crowd, or even that trail of food, for that matter.
You can't go wrong.

If there is any place which is just food and culture-infested (not to mention merry sounds and chatter), Chinatown is almost always on the list.

We are talking about thousands of years of civilization (the Chinese origins).
They don't let themselves starve, that's for sure.

The Chinatown of Ho Chi Minh City, is, as mentioned in my previous posts, the busy district of Cholon, or District 5.
(Well, Cholon really sits in between both District 5 and 6, but Chinatown itself is in District 5, as I have covered in my earlier posts here and here.).
The Hoa were the earlier Chinese minority who migrated and settled here, in my post on the story of Cholon district, which makes perfect sense to the establishment of Chinatown in this part of the city.

Chinese food is one that boasts of a wide variety in its offering; ranging from the countless ways of their methods of preparation.
This is one of my favorite cuisine, because there is just so much diversity in the flavors and well, everything.
I could never get bored of Chinese dishes as they keep surprising me with their vibrant colors and appetizing tastes as they land on both the eyes, the tongue and the mouth, and of course, eventually the stomach.

When you are in Chinatown in the morning, there is probably only one thing you could think of for breakfast, or perhaps that is even the main reason you are in Chinatown for.



If you are as huge a fan of this dainty bites bursting with savory and appetizing tastes for breakfast as me, you are in the right place.

This is where, as the locals have told us, most of the good eateries and restaurants offering this breakfast option are located.
The good news is, they are mostly within the affordable range and perhaps one that could even fit the tiniest budget, if you were to look carefully.

Of course, if you are not a dim sum fan (I don't why you're not, maybe we could discuss that later), or if you are just not in the mood for dim sum, there are other options for breakfast.

This is Chinatown, after all.

It is funny, how I am in Vietnam, but most often than not, most of the meals I ended up having, are not of Vietnamese origins.
Does it count that I am actually eating in a place run by the Vietnamese, and located in Vietnam?
(Probably not, I know. It wasn't a question).

I am never one for conventions anyway, though not a reckless rebel either.

I mean, like, really, can you walk away from these gorgeous hand-pinched crystal skin dumplings holding a dense colony of fresh and juicy prawns, on the verge of bursting their skin? (literally)


These beautiful things blushing through their translucent skins, are the Har Gao, or in local Vietnamese language, Ha Cao (very close).
These are my favorites; Steamed Prawn dumplings in crystal skins.
This is mandatory dish for a dim sum meal.
No, not only for my own dim sum meal.
Literally, almost every dim sum meal must have this dish.

This is one of the requisites or even one of the most basic dim sum dish for one to enjoy a round of dim sum; or especially when trying out a new dim sum place in town.
Mess up this dish, and it could bring disastrous results, especially for the dim sum aficionados or the experts.

The other one would be the Siew Mai; the minced pork meat dumplings.
(Some variants would mix shrimps with it in their own presentation, but the original version is purely of pork meat).


Some say that the meat would taste better when they are left overnight.

I wouldn't know, but I have a companion who loves Siew Mai, and apparently these Siew Mai at this local Chinese restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City's Chinatown has his nod of approval.
This is only the second one I have heard him praise.
He has high requirements.

Of course, the usual suspects would also include Char Siew Pow (Steamed buns with BBQ Pork filling), Lor Mai Gai (Glutinous rice with meat and mushrooms) and maybe Chee Cheong Fun (Flat rice noodles with pork or shrimp fillings).

These are all the familiar characters in every dim sum meal; especially in the scene of the Hong Kong dim sum.

Well, generally, dim sum does originate from Guangdong and most of the dim sum; or perhaps the good ones (if not the best) and the most famous have all landed in Hong Kong and Guangdong (they have also migrated and brought along their culinary specialties to Hong Kong).

Read more about the Origins of Dim Sum which I have written before here.

Yes, Hong Kong is known as the Land of Dim Sum, in case you're wondering.
I couldn't say I disagree, at all.

We didn't order everything from the usual dim sum varieties.
We have our own preferences.

We did, however, order a plate of Chee Cheong Fun.


This is one of the best I have tried.

I am sure of that.

It is filled with these fresh, succulent and crunchy prawns which are just filling up almost the flat rolls, if you can even still make out the flat rolls.
Well, Chee Cheong Fun are supposed to be either flat or rolled in the shape; as the name suggests (which actually translates to roll, to be exact, taking from its phonetic sound in Chinese).

The juicy prawns are irresistible, and are, in a way, to die for.

Don't get me started on the flat rice noodles.

The Fun (the flat rice noodles), or as the Vietnamese Chinese refer to it as the Hor Fun (which is the same as us anyway), is just silky smooth and you barely need to bite on it, as it just simply and almost melts in your mouth.
It still has that rice flour texture which makes the flat noodles, but really, this is by far one of the thinnest and lightest film of rice flour I would have ever tried.
It is just like satin.
Not that I have tasted satin in my mouth, but you get the idea.
I am truly impressed.

There are also various variants of prawn dumplings; they sure do love their prawns.
I can see why.

With such juicy and crunchy prawns, there is just every reason to just stuff them and make them the ingredient (if not the main ingredient) in almost every dish on the menu.
I say, make them the ruling factor.
I am biased.

Steamed seafood dumplings; with fresh fish paste (not a mashed piece of flour, but real fish fillets mashed up) and prawns


This is one of my favorite variant of the prawn dumpling.

Oh wait, or was it the Ha Cao?

I can't decide.

Steamed Prawns and Chives Dumplings


Prawn and Scallop Dumplings


No close up or cross section photos of these two.
I mean, steamed dumplings are best when they are served and consumed hot.
You'd understand, right?

Seafood Hu Tieu in light broth

IMG_9146_Fotor Most of the locals would have a bowl of warm comforting noodles on their tables.
We couldn't be the outlier, could we?

After all, as they say, when in Vietnam, do what the Vietnamese do.
You can't go wrong.

They are just so generous with the portions of seafood, that it is heart-warming.


Some Egg Tarts to round up, and to bring home, as souvenirs.
I was kidding.


These are mini versions of Egg Tarts, but yeah, you could still take away as snacks.
What I did not mean, was to bring them home, all the way back to the home country.
Oh wait, can we?

I loved the dim sum here so much that I was here at least three times!

You didn't think that we had all those food at one go, did you?
Oh, you have such high expectations of us.

We did not order that little either; we just couldn't help it even if we had to take them home for snacks.


I mean, who says Dim Sum is only for breakfast?
We can have Dim Sum anytime of the day right?

That's the Spirit.

The best part about this place is that touch of locality; and the place is just one of those old-fashioned downtown shop outlets.


It brings back the memories and the atmosphere of rustic charm, in a priceless vintage environment.




It is a very popular place among the locals here.


It is almost, always crowded each and every times I was there; even if I was early.
The locals always beat me to the early hour.
It must be those motorcycles and well, they are just early birds.

I could never find a place downstairs.

That is not a problem though; because this place, like any traditional buildings, is brilliantly designed with multi levels and well-ventilated air wells and spaces, with staircases zig-zagging all the way to the upper levels.
They have three or four floors in this shoplift.



 How often can you find designs like these anymore, in modern shops or restaurants?
They really don't make houses or shops like these anymore these days.


Of course, don't count your life on it.

I still would recommend you to be there early.
If you want to have a good table, or even a place to sit, because seriously, they are really packed and even with multiple floors and even tables in the corridors and walkways (they made the most out of their floor space, these people are just amazing), some latecomers still have to wait in line.
Sometimes late could mean 9 or before 10 in the morning.
Go figure.

Tables along the walkway (I wasn't kidding)

I wouldn't end the post, without telling you which restaurant is this.
I wouldn't dare.



One of the best dim sum I've tried.

I'm such a regular of dim sum, you'd better believe it.
Or not.

Tien Phat serves Hong Kong Dim Sum (really good ones, obviously) and the name actually translates to mean Inviting Good Fortune in Chinese.
(They have Chinese characters of their name in the shop and on their serviettes as well).

This is a Chinese restaurant, after all.

Why I Like/Recommend Them

Good food and at affordable prices.

What else is there to ask for?


Oh, add to that list, awesome service by their friendly and attentive staff.

I have to mention that, they are the nicest I have encountered while dining in this city.
They don't speak much English or even Chinese (though some of the older staffs do speak Cantonese), but they are always very friendly and are quick to attend to all their customers.

They are not a big group either; and they could run short during the peak hours but they try their best to accommodate to each and every single one of their customers.

I have experienced that.
It doesn't matter if you're local or tourist.

They will always smile and attend to you; and even serve according to the priority of order.
There is no discrimination or bias when it comes to their service.

I must give them the credit.

For a popular restaurant like this, one would expect arrogance (fame can do that to people sometimes, in some places), but not here in Tien Phat.
They are just as humble and nice.

It's truly the Definition of Service.

This is what keeps me coming back.

That's the Best marketing or business strategy.
You don't need big or long running commercials to boast your reputation.
The word of mouth does it far better.

The crowd assembling here every weekend, or every time I am here, speaks up for them.

This is officially my favorite dim sum place; not only in Vietnam, but all the time, now.'


Restaurant Featured in this Post:

Tien Phat Chinese Food

18 Ky Hoa, Phuong 11, Quan 5, Ho Chi Minh City

Contact: 3853 6217


One cannot think well, love well, sleep well; if one has not Dined Well
- Virginia Woolf-

*Author's Note: 
This is not a sponsored/promotional post, and solely based on author's personal expenses, opinions and preferences and do not represent the general public. 
Experiences vary from one individual to another.
You do not have to agree with me.

This is based on my personal experience and is told in a subjective manner, entirely from my perspective.

Photos all belong to me and are copyrighted.

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