Saigon. It never fails to surprise. This vibrant city gets more epic with each episode of our best new places round-up. There’s definitely more diversity than ever – from a rabbit-themed lounge to a new craft brewery tap house, to sophisticated all-day dining in Thao Dien. These are the best new places to eat and drink in Saigon right now.
Đọc bài viết bằng Tiếng Việt
Of course, District 2 is continuing its inexorable ascent to become the epicenter of the city. There’s LUCA – Restaurant, as evidence, which is also proof of SOKOGROUP’s evolution. TÁO Wine Bar, also in District 2, has got you with a generous 48 wines by the glass. Then there’s Nanaimo Oyster Bar, that’s in District 2’s Thao Dien too, with some exclusive Canadian oysters on their menu, served in romantic surroundings.
Steersman Brewery is adding to the richness of Saigon’s already well-served craft beer scene with its three-floor taphouse. MEN Quan is helping to add some style consciousness to the canal. TENKU is introducing Saigon to kaiseki tasting menus. And finally, Pink Rabbit is a breezy new lounge on the edge of Japan Town.
LUCA – Restaurant
LUCA – Restaurant is the kind of all-day sunlit languorous lounge Saigon’s been missing. “Actually, the name comes from the Latin name Lucas, which means bringer of light!” the SOKOGROUP team tells us. And LUCA – Restaurant has slid into Xuan Thuy Street with the kind of insouciance you’d expect from such a style conscious place.
SOKOGROUP have opened brunch spot SOKO Cake Bake & Brunch and fun omakase restaurant Noriboi in quick succession, honing their service skills along the way. “We’ve definitely matured,” they add, “like a classic Bordeaux, and already LUCA has too, becoming a place to meet any time of the day or evening.”
Despite the dining room being open plan, the intelligent design, with outcropping bricks makes tables feel intimate. “Right, we used construction bricks – the kind used to pave sidewalks – as one of the main materials at LUCA – Restaurant. It’s able to tell its own story while creating a pleasant connection with customers.”
And the glass conservatory on one side gives LUCA – Restaurant some Parisienne je ne sais quoi. “We wanted some fluidity about the energy at LUCA,” they continue. “The space should mirror your mood as the day progresses, making it the ideal space for casual business meetings, to enjoy an aperitif, or a romantic dinner after dark.”
The food’s good too. The menu is European-Vietnamese that’s perfect for sharing – sweet and savory breakfast items like homemade granola bowls and eggs benedict with smoked salmon, fresh salads, and mains like green curry mussels. There’s some cultured cocktails too – a white mezcal Negroni and a kumquat amaretto sour – and a well-stocked wine list.
In Short: LUCA inside for all-day dining, cultured cocktails and contemporary-chic design.
Where: 49 Xuan Thuy Street, Thao Dien
Craft beer has become big in Vietnam. Now, Steersman Brewery are adding to the craft culture here with their 3-story taproom on Phan Ke Binh Street.
There, they serve proudly made-in-Vietnam products, founder Wayne Su tells us, who has been joined by Ben Nguyen as co-founder. “All of our beers and hard sodas are made in Vietnam,” Wayne tells us. “And the food menu was created in house and is the result of extensive testing and tweaking from the team.”
The taproom, he says, has something for everyone. The ground floor is airy and accessible with a retractable roof, there are private rooms inside with AC, and there’s a rooftop space. There’s also a pool room and lots of board games,” he smiles. “And we’re also family- and pet-friendly.
The taproom used to be a school. “Lots of the kids who went there have come of drinking age now,” Wayne laughs, “and we even have one as a regular customer.”
In Short: Go to Steersman Brewery for brew-tiful made-in-Vietnam beers and hard sodas!
Where: 18 Phan Ke Binh, Da Kao, District 1
The streets that run either side of the canal are, rightly, best known for their rowdy nhau joints – seafood, snails and lots of cheersing of beers. But there’s always been a cultured place or two sprinkled in, like Kau Ba Quan, which famously featured on David Chang’s ‘Ugly Delicious.’
MEN Quan is one of those kinds of places.
Firstly, the restaurant is a cool mix of old and new. “We were inspired by old architecture – 3-room houses, gates with tiled roofs, patterned wood details, and Binh Duong interior decorative ceramics,” the team from MEN Quan tells us. To those, they’ve added some contemporary touches – modern lighting, stainless steel details and mirrored surfaces.
The design reflects the bigger ambition of MEN Quan to create a cross-generational space. Dang Hoang Long, who is also the co-founder of Dot Bar, was born at the intersection of GEN Z and Millenials. “I found it hard to find places to hang out that could please everyone – from people like me to older generation members of my family,” he says.
Besides its traditional-contemporary design, MEN Quan keeps guests returning for the flavorsome food and drinks. It’s right there in MEN Quan’s slogan: Khoái Mồi – Mê Bia, meaning bar snacks and beer.
So, there’s housemade craft beer and spirits they distill in-house too. And the cuisine is elevated Vietnamese food, so guests feel the flavors are familiar but the presentation and ingredients are something new. There’s signature Thai-style ribs, and homemade tofu served with seaweed, and salted egg sauce. “So, we throw in some regional influences too,” Dang Hoang Long smiles proudly.
In Short: Feeling crabby? Have some seafood at style-conscious MEN Quan.
Where: 691 Hoang Sa, Vo Thi Sau, District 3
TÁO Wine Bar
Beyond the cocktail craze in Vietnam, people are drinking more wine. TÁO wine bar is helping that evolution of drinking habits with their new space in Thao Dien. “We really wanted to create a place that lets customers try a range of wines without having to commit to a bottle,” general manager Elia Marchetti tells us. At TÁO wine bar, the four state-of-the-art wine dispensers mean the team offers 48 different wines by the glass. “And in the cellar we have about 100 different bottles,” he adds. And they’re all served “at a friendly-neighborhood price point.”
That means a fixed price for all the wines, for people with TÁO wine bar’s wine card. “With your card topped up, you can redeem it for 20ml tasters of any new wine, or enjoy a full pour of 100ml or 150ml of your favorite discovery, or a familiar favorite.”
Added to that, classic cocktails are all 180K. “Plus, we’ve brought some forgotten cocktail from history back too,” Elia smiles, “which you’ll find incredibly charming.” And, not surprisingly considering Elia is Italian, there’s risotto and pasta and some delectable meat dishes. “If it’s early, I’d order a mocktail or a strong coffee,” he advises. “Later in the day, I’d make sure to arrive for happy hour and some sustenance to start the evening – probably a few spritz and some fish and chips, or some Italian arancini,” Elia decides finally.
In Short: It’s a grape time guaranteed at TÁO Wine Bar.
Where: 55B Ngo Quang Huy
Nanaimo Oyster Bar
Briny and brilliant – who doesn’t love oysters? The guys at Nanaimo certainly do. It’s a little bit of Canadian cool in tropical Thao Dien. They exclusively serve two kinds of North American oysters – farmed in the Jervis Inlet on the Sunshine Coast – and Black Wing oysters.
Naturally, as a place serving oysters – a food famous for its aphrodisiac qualities – Nanaimo has a cool, romantic, outdoor area, and a cozy and convivial indoor area.
“But we don’t only serve oysters,” the Nanaimo Oyster Bar team tells us about their bistro-style restaurant and bar. “There’s our lobster roll, our signature Nanaimo salad, and our scallop ceviche. But there’s a whole lot of seafood to discover,” they promise.
In Short: Nanaimo is now serving briny and brilliant Canadian oysters.
Where: 28 Thao Dien Street
TENKU – Japanese Modern Kaiseki & Bar
Japanese kaiseki is an artful traditional multi-course menu full of fresh seasonal ingredients that follows a set formula.
Lots of modern restaurants have incorporated its approach – both Japanese, at places like Den in Tokyo, the #1 restaurant in Asia 2022, according to Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards and elsewhere, at places like Chef Ton’s Nusara, the current #3-ranked restaurant in Asia in 2023.
And now, you can try Kaiseki in Saigon. “We’d describe kaiseki, a style of Japanese Imperial Dinner, today as a combination of traditional and modern elements,” the TENKU – Japanese Modern Kaiseki & Bar team tells us about the newly opened restaurant that’s part of Le Van May’s Lotus Group.
At TENKU – Japanese Modern Kaiseki & Bar, Japanese Chef Ariga Naoki creates his kaiseki menu with European touches, and signature ingredients sourced from Japan and elsewhere in the world. And the approach here at TENKU respects kaiseki traditions while exploring its modern incarnations with ‘tradition’ and ‘modern’ set menus.
And they do it on the 67th floor of the Landmark 81 building, meaning the views are as breathtaking as the cuisine. “You can visit around 5PM,” they remind us, “and catch the sunset from our sake sky bar terrace, before moving inside to the main area to enjoy your dinner with views of downtown District 1.”
In Short: TENKU is a rare chance to try kaiseki in Saigon.
Where: 67th floor, Landmark 81 building, 720A Dien Bien Phu, Ward 22, Binh Thanh District
Japan Town is a blast, in case you haven’t heard us say that before. And with its revival comes even more great places to hang out. Pink Rabbit is one. And, as with many amazing things in life, Pink Rabbit happened by accident.
“We had the idea to open a place – a club with the energy of a house party, but also with a unique atmosphere and service. We wanted it to be a place to listen to good music too,” Pink Rabbit Saigon founder Alex Matsko recalls. Then, after a long search, he stumbled across the rooftop space on Thai Van Lung that became Pink Rabbit. “And I signed the contract the next day,” he smiles.
His dreams of the place have come true. “Anyone can enjoy Pink Rabbit,” he promises. “Whether you’re on a date, or meeting friends, or you want to listen to good music, or you just need a photogenic backdrop for photos for your social posts, Pink Rabbit is the place for you.”
There’s a long daily happy hour to embrace, from 5:30PM to 8:30PM with buy–one-get-one Aperol Spritz, there’s ladies nights every Thursday, and there’s a food menu about to drop any day. But every day of the week, the breezy open-air terrace and bar counter are fresh places to begin or amplify your evening in Saigon.
In Short: Japan Town is a blast and Pink Rabbit is adding to the energy.
Where: 10AB Thai Van Lung, District 1