Vietnam has desserts from around the world. Whether it’s a “Banana Fever” banana bread cake from Bakes Saigon or a matcha mille crepe from Miyama, you can find something to satisfy any of your dessert cravings. But with so many choices available, it’s almost impossible to know which are the best sweets in Ho Chi Minh City—that is, without some help.
Ho Chi Minh City resident Cao Hoang Son is the founder of the food blog FoodholicVN. Originally a personal blog, FoodholicVN has expanded into an Instagram page with over 16,900 followers and counting. Lucky for us, he has a sweet spot for desserts.
In fact, Son is fascinated by the continuous development of the dessert industry. “In the past, local people only knew about traditional Vietnamese desserts like sweet soups and tofu. But now all kinds of desserts—Japanese, Korean, and Western—are being imported and Vietnamese people can experience different cultures,” Son explains.
As an expert on the dessert scene, Son was well-equipped to help us find five of the best sweet shops in Ho Chi Minh City.
Bo by Butterman
Founded by four university classmates, Bo by Butterman is a casual spot to test out. Even though Bo by Butterman’s flagship location just opened this past year, there’s already a line of customers waiting to buy jars of fluffy marshmallows and crispy cookies when we arrive. Given their popularity, it’s difficult to believe that they started by selling their product in class.
“We had to keep running in and out of class to get jars and collect money. Fortunately, our professors were understanding,” co-founder Pham Quynh Tram recalls.
Whether you select a peach marshmallow or a matcha cookie, you won’t be disappointed by their handmade, high-quality products.
“We start baking at 9:30am and work throughout the day to offer the freshest products to our customers,” co-founder Nguyen Quynh Y Vy nods.
Among all these options, however, one stands out to Son. The ice cream cookie sandwich, a combination of rich cookies and creamy ice cream and signature cookies. “It’s heaven in your mouth,” Son laughs happily.
FoodholicVN Favorite: The ice cream cookie sandwich is “heaven in your mouth” Best-seller: Chocomallow with brownie in the middle Location: 218 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Ward 6, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City Contact: Facebook | Instagram
For a light, refreshing dessert, Snow Bings serves up twists of the classic Korean dessert bingsu. Among all the bingsu cafes in Ho Chi Minh City, Snow Bings stands out for its creativity, which manager Dang Kim Chi claims is unmatched.
Each bowl starts with the same fluffy bed of “snow”—frozen and shaved locally-sourced Dalat pasteurized milk. The Korean owner chose local milk over imported options because of its signature sweet richness. After that, a mountain of toppings is piled up ranging from an avocado rose to chunks of cream cheese.
Of all the options available, however, the berries bingsu is the best-seller…and for good reason. The toppings add more dimension to the subtle flavor of the snow—generous scoops of various berries and cherries add tartness while the vanilla ice cream and condensed milk bring balance.
Son’s FoodholicVN favorite offers a different flavor profile. It’s called the smoking taro bingsu. There’s a purple yam powder that decorates the top and palmyra fruits lie hidden beneath. But these details only accent the body of the dessert—a generous dollop of cheese foam, or whipped cream made with cheese powder.
“Although it may sound unusual at first, the cheese foam adds a slightly savory flavor that perfectly complements the subtle sweetness of the ice,” Son grins.
FoodholicVN Favorite: Smoking taro bingsu “although it may sound unusual at first” Bestseller: Berries bingsu Location: 169 Nguyen Cu Trinh, Nguyen Cu Trinh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City Contact: Facebook
Tokyo Sweets is the place to cool off. Plus they serve a popular Japanese treat, melon pan. The buns strictly follow a Japanese recipe, retaining their authenticity despite the store’s location on the bustling Mac Thi Buoi street.
The dessert combines hot and cold components into one delectable treat. “We place frozen ice cream in a warmed melon pan giving customers an explosion of textures in each bite,” says manager Pham Hong Ngoc. “I personally love having the melon pan right out of the oven because of its crispy crust and soft interior.”
To perfectly complement the bun in the bestselling melon pan ice matcha, the ice cream is made with ingredients imported directly from Japan, producing an aromatic ice cream rich in matcha flavor and creaminess. Even Son says that when eating the ice cream, “it’s hard to put my spoon down.”
Although a matcha lover, Son recommends melon pan ice vani—classic vanilla ice cream sandwiched in between the sweet bread. “When you eat the salty bottom crust with the vanilla ice cream, the savory flavor of the bread is intensified. The sweet and savory combination balances out,” Son explains.
FoodholicVN Favorite: The sweet and savory combination of the melon pan ice vani Bestseller: Melon pan ice matcha Location: 89 Mac Thi Buoi, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City Contact: Facebook
Known for delicious, good-looking treats, Morico is a cafe-restaurant that specializes in organic desserts.
The secret to the high-quality desserts lies in the ingredients. Usually, this means importing them from Hokkaido, Japan, but in some instances, like with Madagascar vanilla beans, this means going intercontinental.
Morico prioritizes both flavor and presentation. Van describes their style as “sophisticated minimalism,” something common in Japanese food. The simple yet elegant plating of the best-selling molten matcha chocolate cake is an example of this. The warm, Marou dark chocolate cake with a gooey matcha center is placed next to a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.
A contrast to the richness of the cake, Son’s Morico recommendation, the matcha Japanese parfait, is a less common Vietnamese dessert. “Parfait” means perfect. And so it is, as the combination of over 10 ingredients in this creation is faultless. The matcha pudding, light in flavor but creamy in texture, doesn’t compete with the flavor of the cool Italian vanilla gelato. Even the toppings like the crispy popped rice and chewy shiratama dango add varying textures that blend together to create a symphony of flavors in each spoonful.
FoodholicVN Favorite: Matcha Japanese parfait is a “faultless” ten-ingredient combo Bestseller: Molten matcha chocolate cake Location: 92 Nguyen Huu Canh, Ward 22, Binh Thanh, Ho Chi Minh City Contact: Facebook | Instagram
Østerberg Ice Cream
Located on a bustling street in District 2’s Thao Dien, Østerberg Ice Cream is an ideal spot to escape Saigon’s heat. Founder Cathrine Østerberg—whom Vietcetera previously profiled—came to Vietnam to share her high-quality product, which is neither too rich nor too light.
Offering flavors like chocolate sorbet and pink guava ice cream, Østerberg Ice Cream’s creations are atypical. Applying her knowledge of food science, Cathrine branches out from traditional flavors and concocts recipes using both Nordic ingredients like elderflower and local ones like durian.
Can’t choose which flavor to sample? Order the “Around the World,” and you can try all twelve flavors offered that day in a freshly-made waffle cone bowl.
FoodholicVN Favorite: Vanilla—a classic that’s “neither too rich nor too light” Bestseller: Chocolate Location: 94 Xuan Thay, Thao Dien, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City