Let’s be honest. We all like to get high from time to time. Obviously, we’re talking about getting high in the sky, and digging into some tasty cuisine and lots of wine, or maybe just sipping refreshing highballs. Two high-floor restaurants feature in this list, along with a prime-location steakhouse, a clubhouse for motorheads, and more in this, our selection of 8 of the best new places to eat, drink and refuel in Saigon.
Đọc bài viết bằng Tiếng Việt
There’s Prime Steak Boutique & Chill, the no-bull steakhouse with a crazy-eyed bull at the door. There’s a restaurant inspired by the moon, Lüne Restaurant & Bar. There’s SENS Dine & Wine in the Bitexco Tower, with its French-gastronomic influences and art deco touches. There’s HiBall, a cocktail bar created by two lovers of the refreshing spirit and soda beverage. There’s SCMC clubhouse, a hub for classic motorbike lovers. There’s The Hội An Collective’s slice of the Ancient Town dropped into Thao Dien. There’s Destiny – Cocktail Bar, inspired by the films of Wong Kar Wai. And finally, Sº79 – Skyline Dining, which, we admit, we slept on, but deserves acclaim for its contemporary take on Asian cuisine.
Prime Steak Boutique & Chill
The name is spot on. Prime really couldn’t be in a more prime location. The hulking 3-floor 900m2 space is on District 1’s Pasteur Street. And it’s made even more unmissable by the gigantic red-eyed bull inside the door that looks like it’s about to charge off down the street and rampage through Ben Thanh Market.
“It is a bit confrontational,” Chef Khai, one of the three founders, shrugs. “That’s because it’s like the guardian of Prime – once you make it past, you’ve already entered a journey of the senses that celebrates the primal spirit in all of us.”
Behind it is a wall made out of Himalayan salt – a crucial ingredient in dry-aging beef. In the dry-aging room, they can age around 900kg of meat. “But the real show really begins in the kitchen,” Chef Khai adds. “Our chefs create a kind of theater with dancing flames and plumes of smoke.”
“So, I would sit at the counter for the show,” Prime’s chef and co-founder decides. “That’s my spot,” he nods. “That’s because there I can watch our chefs, and appreciate their work – maybe remembering myself when I was younger! To eat, I’d start with our fragrant brioche bun with garlic butter, then I’d order our 60-day dry-aged bone-in ribeye and a nice glass of red wine, and I’d finish with something unique – our hazelnut gelato with caviar.”
All this is the culmination of Chef Khai’s dream to bring Las Vegas steakhouse culture to Vietnam. He’s done it with two friends who, together, have been hatching the concept for the last couple of years. “Fine steaks in a stylish but comfortable setting,” Chef Khai tells us about their simple goal. Or as their socials put it, Prime ‘makes you a steak done well, not well done.’
Naturally, they know their beef. At Prime they serve both Australian and US cuts. “There’s tomahawk or porterhouse, T-bone, ribeye, New York and thin skirt,” Chef Khai says. “But try our signature ‘Umami Tomahawk’ that gets its flavor from our unique approach to marinating beef.”
In Short: A prime time steak house.
Location: 138-140-142 Pasteur, District 1
Lüne Restaurant & Bar
The moon has always enchanted us humans. It’s been a muse for poets and philosophers. To them, add Chef Adrien Guenzi. “I’m not that big into astrology though,” he tells us. “But we do need a bit of luck sometimes,” he adds. “From my side, luck has come in the form of my team here at Lüne Restaurant & Bar.”
The Lyon-born chef has already had a glittering career beneath the moon’s silver light – at L’Arc En Ciel, at the two-star La Rotonde, and at Flocon Village, all in France. And at Le Floris the one-star Swiss restaurant, and at Babylon At The Roofgardens and the legendary Sketch in England. “But Lyon’s culinary heritage is definitely still a part of me,” Chef Adrien Guenzi says. “Not only Paul Bocuse, but other chefs from Lyon like Christian Tetedoie, Guy Lassausaie or even Fernand Point…”
If he looks familiar, that’s because Adrien Guenzi was previously at the Park Hyatt Saigon before opening Lüne Restaurant & Bar, as “a Neverland for the ones who dream.”
For Adrien, however complex a recipe is, each dish must be easy to understand. “By that I mean guests should be able to identify the taste of the main products, while the other ones play supporting roles while staying in the dark.”
At Lüne Restaurant & Bar, there’s the main menu divided into cold, hot and sweet dishes, and another menu of finger food with a cocktail pairing. “Ngân, our sommelier and talented mixologist created the cocktails to match perfectly with our finger-food menu,” Adrien tells us proudly.
“Take a seat at the bar, and try our Intensity cocktail, a perfectly balanced blend of rum, fig purée and ginger beer, and pair it with our asparagus tartlette, with quail egg and ikura. Then take a table with views of buzzing Le Thanh Ton outside, and try our foie gras parfait, with berry ham and toasted seeds, and then our lam loin with polenta, butternut squash and rosemary jus. And for dessert, try our signature crispy potato, with brown butter cream and salted caramel topped served with our home-made milk ice cream…” he decides finally.
In Short: Chef Adrien Guenzi’s lunar obsessed lounge.
Location: 17/14 Le Thanh Ton, District 1
SENS – Dine & Wine
Everyone loves dinner with a view. But the food and drinks offered alongside can be a bit lackluster. Up on the 52nd Floor of the Bitexco Financial Tower, SENS Dine & Wine are doing things differently with a focus on palate and planet.
“It’s a quaintly gastronomic affair up here,” Kim Truong, the CEO of D1-Concepts, the group behind SENS Dine & Wine, tells us about the cuisine created from classic French techniques which have taken on a modern sensibility in dishes like their Nha Trang Lobster and SENS Beef Tartar. “Plus there’s a long list of carefully curated wines – between 200 to 300 labels – and some innovative Vietnamese ingredient-driven cocktails.”
But, of course, seeing Saigon from up here is still a big attraction. “The views are a highlight,” Kim concurs. Only, at SENS Dine & Wine they’re framed by minimal art deco elements. There’s a ‘Sky Cellar’ too – and a smaller version that’s also a private dining room. And there’s another VIP room with 20-seats for business dinners, family gatherings and catch ups with groups of friends. “If you really want to be wow-ed, however, reserve the show kitchen. It’s a hidden space where you can get up close and personal with our chef and our cuisine,” Kim adds.
In Short: Art deco-adorned gastronomy with a view.
Location: Floor 52, Bitexco Financial Tower
With a couple of sky dining spots on the list, it’s refreshing to find another way to get high – with HiBall Cocktail Bar, a bar dedicated to the equally refreshing beverage popularized most recently in Japan, usually as a Suntory whiskey, served with soda and ice.
Obviously, the founder, Tuan Nguyen’s favorite drink is a highball. “For him, it’s something about the combination of strong spirit and a soda mixer. Despite its simplicity, it creates a feeling of ecstasy,” Tuan’s co-founder, Ho Thanh tells us.
Highballs have a particular appeal for the more seasoned drinker. And, after ten years in the bar industry, Tuan definitely counts himself as one. He just gradually grew out of the feeling to very drunk. And so highballs became his preferred refreshing beverage. “You get tipsy but not too intoxicated,” Ho Thanh agrees, “so they’re great for socializing over.”
They’re versatile too. These days there’s all kinds of combinations of spirit and soda. “Right,” Ho Thanh says approvingly, “try our No. 4 for example, a highball that incorporates smokey Mezcal with some sage flavor and an aromatic juice.”
In Short: Grown-up highballs in a neighborhood bar.
Location: 160/14 Cong Quynh, District 1, Ho Chi Minh
SCMC clubhouse is another passion project – this one inspired by motorbikes.
Motorhead Thomas Doan loves classic motorcycles. He used to have a small workshop downstairs at his shophouse home in District 4. There, he also sold riding gear and helmets, mostly to friends who would drop by. They would head off on road trips together, gathering new friends along the way, and sharing stories and learning more about classic motorbike culture.
As the gang grew and grew, it made sense to pool resources and open a clubhouse. “A place to play, meet, and be entertained with a great bistro-style menu of contemporary comfort food,” Thomas explains.
The building is as classic as their passion for old motorbikes, as SCMC clubhouse has opened in a large French villa off Dien Bien Phu. But, Thomas and the team remind us, this is not only for Saigon motorbike enthusiasts. “Anyone can come and feel welcome. My go-to area is the airy terrace,” Thomas tells us. “And what would I order? That’s like choosing a favorite child!” he laughs, “but let’s say broken rice in the morning and one of our great steaks in the evening.”
It’s worth following the SCMC socials for news. “We have a lot of events coming up, and lots of brand collaborations to watch out for,” Thomas promises finally.
In Short: A hub for motorheads (and friends).
Location: 211B Dien Bien phu, Vo Thi Sau Ward, District 3, Ho Chi Minh
Hội An Collective
Historic Hoi An, with its lines of yellow houses, tailor shops and cups of refreshing lemongrass tea, seduces the coldest of hearts.
The Hội An Collective offers the chance for some Ancient Town energy without flying to Central Vietnam. The collective includes a cafe, gallery, exhibition space and some Central Vietnamese specialties like lotus and lemongrass tea and cao lau noodles served with sticky Hoi An chili sauce. “They’re 100% made using ingredients that come from Hoi An…with love,” Huy, who was born and raised in Hoi An tells us. After graduating from the University of Tourism and Hospitality in Switzerland, he returned to Vietnam with the dream of sharing Hoi An culture, and, with his wife Cindee, formed the Hội An Collective – hội meaning a gang or group.
You can find the Hội An Collective in an arty yellow-walled house in District 2’s Thao Dien Ward. “As soon as you step inside, it’s a cozy, welcoming space,” Huy adds. “With a mix of American, Chinese, and Vietnamese architectural style. And the earthy yellow color was used a lot because it was thought that it represented good fortune and longevity.” Two things Huy hopes for The Hội An Collective too.
In Short: Ancient Town energy in Thao Dien.
Location: 23 Le Van Mien, Thao Dien Ward, District 2, Ho Chi Minh
Destiny – Cocktail Bar
Fate is the driving force of this new, cinematic cocktail bar and lounge in District 2. “Of course, if we happen to meet here, that’s already some kind of destiny,” Destiny – Cocktail Bar’s founder tells us. And, with Destiny’s Wong Kar Wai, or Vương Gia Vệ in Vietnamese, references, it’s a hip new spot for a cocktail or two. “I just love Wong Kar Wai’s films,” Destiny’s founder nods, as if it wasn’t obvious already.
You can find him most nights at the small table next to the window lit by lamplight, watching the rain roll down the window, sipping a signature Tra Memories cocktail, just like a scene out of a Wong Kar Wai movie.
In Short: Wong Kar Wai not?
Location: 16 Quoc Huong, Thao Dien Ward, District 2, Ho Chi Minh
Sº79 – Skyline Dining
It feels special already, as you take the elevator up to the 79th floor after passing a security check in the Landmark 81 building – the tallest building in Vietnam and the second tallest in Southeast Asia.
Then you discover the Sº79 team are serving some really special contemporary cuisine that explores South and East-Asian flavors, with Chef Tommy Tran expanding on a culinary philosophy he’s developed at restaurants like Esta Eatery.
“There’s beauty in simplicity,” Chef Tommy explains. And that philosophy infuses his cuisine. “Actually, up here at our castle in the clouds, we focus on the 5S – the senses, simplicity, surprise, satisfaction, and sustainability.”
It’s another great example of the evolution of high-floor restaurants, where the cuisine is as unforgettable as the panorama. Here, Tommy weaves family stories together with modern ingredients and techniques. “That’s one of the wonders of food,” he smiles, “to connect generations.”
So, for example there’s dishes like Sº79’s Ox Tongue, made with a carefully selected Angus beef that’s combined with Vietnamese mắm cáy, a rustic fish sauce made from Mekong Delta crab. And, thanks to the influence of Chef Eden Daus, formerly of Nadodi in Kuala Lumpur, there are dishes like Sº79’s Reimagined Lemak Laksa where thin strips of charcoal-grilled squid stand in for the usual noodles.
And they’re served as part of a 7- or 9-course menu that doesn’t overstay its welcome even though you might want to linger a while to enjoy those 79th floor views.
In Short: Contemporary Asian cuisine in Vietnam’s tallest building.
Location: 79th Floor, Landmark 81