As we emerge from the rainy season, discard the raincoat and go explore Saigon’s cafe, bar, and restaurant scene. This month, in our round-up of the best places to eat, drink and dance in Saigon, we feature Netflix show-inspired cocktails, an upstairs jazz club and listening room, and a craft beer brand that’s taken over a District 1 villa and lots more.
Đọc bài viết bằng Tiếng Việt
Saigon is evolving into an ever-greater place to eat and drink. There are bars like the newly-opened Hybrid Saigon. Take Over And Co.’s team launched their anticipated first venue, ASMR. Besides that, there’s a new natural wine bar, NOB-Natural Wine Corner, by the canal in Tan Binh. Plus, craft beer culture becomes notably local with the opening of Hoprizon and new hip speakeasies like The Blinders and Jackalope.
Today, let the Dot magazine show you around the best restaurants in Saigon to feed the foodie in you.
NOB-Natural Wine Corner
Besides the rowdy nhau joints and snail restaurants that line the rejuvenated Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe canal, you can find this homely natural wine bar called NOB-Natural Owl Corner. It has an incredible location allowing guests to enjoy its balcony overlooking the canal.
NOB stands for Natural, Organic, and Biodynamic. Ku founded NOB. According to her friends, Ku looks like an owl with her glasses. And that’s why she used it as the business name. Ku learned about wine-making at the source, working in the vineyards of the south of France. She gravitated toward natural, organic, and biodynamic winemaking because she fell in love with its ”harmonious process of production and the way it retains a pure and natural flavor.”
Thanks to Ku’s connections, serving exclusive wines at NOB-Natural Owl Corner became possible. Thanks to the opportunity to work with Mas Zenitude, a winery in Languedoc, and their inspirational wine-maker Erik Gabrielson, who practices a low intervention style of winemaking, Ku was able to import their red, called Rockabilly, a rose called Ziggy, and a superb orange wine called Wild Side.
“People joke that they can taste my footprints in the bottles from 2019 and 2020,” Ku laughs.
Aside from the exclusive and natural wines from France, NOB also serves Vietnamese vegetarian cuisine such as vegetarian burgers, vegetarian pate, salads, fried wontons, fried mushrooms, and more!
In short: Canal-side natural wines and vegetarian food.
“Three years in the making,” owner Liam Lam Duong sighs with relief as he takes us inside Hybrid Saigon. That’s because three years ago, he took the improbable step of moving back to Nha Trang to open his first bar after working in some of Saigon’s coolest cocktail dens. One of them was Hybrid Nha Trang, which was quickly recognized by the people from Asia’s 50 Best Bars.
But since he left, he’s been plotting his return. Finally, it’s here. And it’s been worth the wait.
Hybrid Saigon’s delectable small-bites menu was developed with a friend and chef, Thuan Tran, from Restaurant Esta. It includes briny Pacific oysters, hamachi ceviche with a swirl of Liam’s bloody mary dressing, light, and crunchy Korean fried cauliflower, and perfectly grilled honey mustard chicken thigh.
On the other hand, the cocktail menu is divided into two parts – Bubbles and Old Hybrid. The menu features many sparkling additions alongside some Hybrid Nha Trang favorites “with lots of new drinks on the way.” They’re all listed by key flavors instead of their main alcoholic ingredient. For example, Hybrid’s Death’s Choke Sazerac omits Hennessey VS and absinthe completely. Then, they list burnt cocoa butter, shoyu caramel, cacao bitters, and Peychaud’s bitters. When you taste the perfectly balanced beverage, you’ll realize that the menu makes sense as the rich caramel note gradually appears amongst its woozy cacao flavor.
A must-try cocktail at Hybrid Saigon is “Fish Never Sleep.” This cocktail takes the traditional Espresso Martini and gives it a light twist. The ‘surprising’ ingredients include cured anchovies, longan caramel, and coffee concentrate, all combined with Rum Sampan Agricole.
Golden ant salt, another of their ingredients, comes from the Central Highlands town of Kon Tum. Hybrid incubated the Kontum weaver ant nest with Mezcal. It was then distilled by rotovap to extract the sour taste of formic acid in the stomach and venom of ants, which was then combined with coconut water that had been charged with Co2 gas. The drink comes with a light, refreshing taste of carbonated coconut water and a slight sourness from the weaver ant acid.
In short: Flavor-first cocktails in a space-age speakeasy.
Location: 121/30 Le Thi Rieng, District 1
The seven-season Netflix show Peaky Blinders has inspired this new Saigon speakeasy. The true-to-life story of a Birmingham gang moving up in the world in difficult times nailed the era’s style – newsboy caps, penny collar shirts, and lots of tweeds. “In Vietnam, we call that style ‘sartorial,’” bar manager Pham Duy Nhut explains, “and we wanted to bring the era to life, focusing on guests who love everything classic.”
The side street at 165 Nguyen Thai Binh has always been a hip little enclave of Saigon’s District 1. You can discover vegetarian restaurants, coffee roasters, and even a sneaker store here. If you’re a cocktail lover, the Blinders Cocktail Bar is another good reason to take a diversion down here.
Behind a thick curtain, the bar is split into two parts. In front is a cocktail bar with pictures of the Peaky Blinders on the wall, lots of dark wood and dimmed lighting, and signature cocktails like their Thomas Gilbert, built on a base of jackfruit-infused rum. While at the back, there are sofas and booths where you can sip fine whisky as you smoke a cigar and plot your next crime spree.
The Blinders Cocktail Bar is a classic-looking restaurant in Saigon that offers dishes with a modern twist. Its retro theme will make you remember the days when rum filled every room and laughter extended into every neighborhood.
In short: A classic Peaky Blinders cocktail bar.
Location: 165/58 Nguyen Thai Binh, District 1
It all began with a gift. In 2016, Logan received a mounted jackalope head “as a present from a dear friend.” It was hung on the walls of two of Logan’s other venues – first, American BBQ and then The Wagon Wheel.
Somehow, Logan and his wife Lena knew the Jackalope was destined for more incredible things. “We just knew that Jackalope would be the name and the leading character of the American-style whiskey bar we planned to open.”
Like a lot of ideas, this one stalled during the pandemic. “But now the dream has become a reality,” Logan smiles proudly, looking up at the jackalope above the bar with its custom-made leather bar stools and elegant countertop.
The Wagon Wheel has become the go-to authentic comfort food for Americans in Saigon. Logan handles the food and the front of the house, and Lena, who created The Iron Bank Cocktail Vault, designs the place and handles the operations. The Iron Bank has a loft upstairs for more intimate evenings and a balcony for cigar smokers. The bar is definitely the best place to soak in this slice of modern-classic Americana.
But, we have to confess, we’re still not sure what a jackalope is. “Well, let me fill you in on the secret of the mighty American jackalope,” Logan offers, “a creature purported to have the body of a rabbit and the horns of an antelope! These horned rabbits have great power and are fast enough to make them almost impossible to catch. Should you ever come across one, take care, as you risk getting kicked, clawed, and gored by a rabbit with antlers!” It’s a relief, then, that this bar’s jackalope passed away some time ago.
Jackalope Bar gives justice to modern-classic Americana style with its unique menu and extensive cocktail options. Intimate dinners with your loved ones will become even more special with the bar’s rustic ambiance that brings back old memories of a simple life. Bring your family and friends, and you’ll surely enjoy this classic vibe.
In short: A slice of real Americana.
Location: 56 Pho Duc Trinh, District 1
Good Apple – The Listening Room
Next on the list, we are introducing the good people at Good Apple – The Listening Room. “We’re just two regular guys who are passionate about music and art,” Uncle Jono tells us about this bar, club, and event space he opened with Mister Dee.
“I describe Good Apple – The Listening Room as the family home of the Good Apple team that’s cozy, intimate, and welcoming as a family should be!” he explains.
Good Apple – The Listening Room has a main event space on the ground floor and two rooms on the first floor. “The back room upstairs is a lounge with a sofa and armchairs and an eclectic display of art and books. On the other hand, the front room is a blank canvas that has a pop-up bar, a performance space, and even a painting session room. Naturally, there’s some interesting art on the walls,” Jono adds.
Most of all, Good Apple – The Listening Room is a space to “meet, talk, listen to music, dance and have fun.” The Good Apple’s good-natured proprietor reminds us to follow our hearts and only work with people who interest us.”
The Good Apple is a great place to party and for celebrations. It is a cozy bar and club that leaves a lasting impression with its hospitable hosts and good music.
In short: Open decks and good times.
Location: 12 Street 9, Thao Dien
The team behind ASMR has a pedigree. Will is a former World Class Vietnam winner, and the creative energy behind Hanoi cocktail bar Doozy and Vien Du was a key part of the Drinking & Healing team. Takeover & Co, they have some new projects in the pipeline. The first is ASMR.
The name references the tingling sensation triggered by sensuous sounds “but also the different segments of our cocktail menu,” Will tell us. “There’s A for acid, with sour and fermented flavors, S for sweet and sour, with honey, chocolate, and citrus flavors, M for molecular, with foam, bubbles, and smoke, and finally R for rich, with milk, oils, and butter.”
The minimal space has a counter in the middle, with seats on three sides. And a few tables here and there. But despite its simplicity, Will says the focus is on “warm hospitality and great cocktails.”
ASMR is a creative cocktail bar. The team uses modern cocktail-making techniques. And they serve the drinks in a cozy space with a good soundtrack.
In short: Cool minimalism meets warm hospitality…and great cocktails.
Location: 15 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien
“Eat, drink and listen,” the Alto team tells us about their simple concept. This cafe bar is above Captain Phook, a fun, open-fronted restaurant on Pham Viet Chanh. Two things inspired it. “First, there was a trip to Havana that was inspiring,” the founders continue, “and second, we’re in love with the analogue sound of vinyl records. There weren’t many places here to listen to old records. The thought probably first occurred to us ten years ago…and it’s taken that long to realize this dream project.”
At Alto, they’ve combined the tropical vibes of a Latin American cafeteria and the spirit of a Tokyo jazz club. There are Frank Sinatra and Miles Davis records laid around and a piano in one corner. “We have about 2,000 records,” they tell us, “and around 90% of them are jazz. And of course, some evenings have live pianos for intimate jazz sessions too.”
Now open from 12 pm to 10:30 pm, they recommend sitting at the high tables while enjoying a plate of homemade pasta during the daytime. As the evening starts, you can sip an aperitif or a Pina Colada by the big window and take in the nightly energy of this part of Binh Thanh. “But don’t expect a sliced pineapple and an umbrella in your Pina Colada,” they warn us, “here we like to be authentic.”
In short: Crackling vinyl and cracking food and drinks.
Location: 1st Floor, 80 Pham Viet Chanh, Binh Thanh District
Lib. Coffee & Cocktails Bar
Like ASMR, Lib. is another cocktail bar with a double meaning. First, Lib. stands for the library, bringing to life founder Louis Huynh’s bookish tendencies. “But it also stands for love is blind,” Louis, from the 90s Group, laughs, “which is something we can all agree on.”
This place “to drink coffee and cocktails, connect to the bartenders, eat finger food, dive into a library, take pictures or just chat with friends” is in District 3, on Le Van Sy. “It’s the true heart of the city,” Louis says, “at the intersection of Saigon’s major districts.”
At Lib., they serve “delicious, beautiful…and sometimes strange cocktails.” Everything from their pretty, picture-perfect Aimee La Rose, with Beefeater 24, Lillet rose, lime juice, and tonic, and with a cherry garnish, to their Vợ Chồng A Phủ, inspired by the work of writer Tô Hoài, with its sous vide shrimp clinging to the side of the rocks glass. “But I recommend a Chi Pheo, a kind of highball with Evan Williams bourbon, and some sparkling fruit tea and goji berries, and to eat the spring rolls from my mom’s kitchen,” Louis adds.
In short: A library-inspired bar where love is blind.
Location: 443/19a Le Van Sy, District 3
Hoprizon Brewing Kitchen & Taphouse
At Hoprizon, expect “quality craft beer, fueled by passion, brewed with courage, and enjoyed with curiosity.” It is strategically located over a villa at 18 Vo Thi Sau, so more people can enjoy their craft beer alongside sharing plates of seafood and BBQ.
While locals sometimes struggle with heavier craft beers, Hoprizon has tuned theirs to perfection, creating fresher beers with low ABV. And at their Hoprizon Brewing Kitchen & Taphouse, you can have fun with a large group of friends, take seats in the courtyard, or host a party indoors.
Hoprizon is a passon-project by Vietnamese beer lovers. The ambiance is very welcoming and charming. Expect beautiful wines, food, and entertainment. The staff are very well-informed and make great suggestions. Discover this very Vietnamese craft beer restaurant.
In short: Vietnamese craft beer in a spacious villa.
Location: 18 Vo Thi Sau, District 1
Contact: Facebook | Instagram
Pham Viet Chanh is a vibe. There is a bar dedicated to Biggie Smalls, rowdy kushiyaki, jazz cafes, and a rockabilly-themed cocktail bar, all within shouting distance of Victory Bar.
From the outside, it looks modest. There’s space out front to smoke at a shared table as the staff pours beer from behind the counter. But inside, there are two vintage Ducatis that they imported from Japan.
Upstairs is a lounge with a massive TV for streaming sports and private events. But the best seat is at the convivial counter downstairs to watch bar manager and co-owner Greg in action and to marvel at the Ducatis.
Greg, the mixologist behind some of the city’s finest cocktail bars – Firkin, Dram, and Racha Room, has branched out on his own. But the cocktails are still reassuringly good. “That one is a Paul Smart 1000, inspired by the Ducati 750 Paul rode to victory in Imola in 1972,” Greg says, gesturing behind him as he stirs some gold leaf into our perfectly balanced Martini.
Victory Bar’s service is unmatched. And the cocktails are superb.
In short: Martinis is for motorheads.
Location: 94 Pham Viet Chanh, Binh Thanh District
Visit Saigon’s Best New Restaurants And Bars For Some Unique Experiences
Visit the best places in Saigon to eat, drink and unwind with your family and friends. You can enjoy good food and incredible drinks in Saigon while learning about Vietnamese traditions and culture. See you in our next magazine feature!
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