Phew. What a rush. In 2022, Saigon went from fast asleep to pedal-to-the-metal mayhem in the space of twelve months. There were so many new bars and restaurants opening, it was hard to keep up sometimes. Instead, we’re taking a look back at some of the best new bars and restaurants in Saigon in 2022.
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The Best New Bars In Saigon In 2022
Saigon’s bar scene wasn’t only about new openings (and we’ve reported on a few). Rebirth was in the air. Sleeping Sake Central started serving katsu sandos and premium sake again. The original rooftop rendezvous, Chill Skybar, staged a comeback. And places like the refined speakeasy Ministry of Men and Thai Gastropub Kin Đee found new homes. Plus, some highly-conceptual spots opened, like SIGMA Cocktail Alchemy, with test tubes and neon, and a secret speakeasy-within-a-speakeasy upstairs, and there were some cozy passion projects too, like the after-hours spot, Nightcap.
It probably shouldn’t work: a pine and rose neon-lit space library in Saigon’s historic refinery courtyard. But it does. The windowless bar really feels like it’s floating in space in a Stanley Kubrick fever dream. Former World Class Vietnam winner Vu Ngoc, who also opened ASMR, another best bar in Saigon for 2022, in District 2 shortly before, and the young and talented team of bartenders are a big reason. There’s a deep dive into unsung Vietnamese ingredients. And there’s over 100 perfectly-balanced classic cocktails, to help you stay grounded.
Location: 74/10A Hai Ba Trung, District 1
The opening of Hybrid Saigon marked the return to the city for Lam Duong. Buoyed by the roaring success of Hybrid Nha Trang, at Hybrid Saigon, Lam Duong let everything hang out. A centrifuge whirs and and a rotovap twirls while the bar team busy themselves at counters in front of guests. And drinks like Hybrid Saigon’s Death’s Choke Sazerac make the journey down this long District 1 alley worth it.
Location: 121/30 Le Thi Rieng, District 1
Stuffed ostriches and periodic tables, entering Apothecary Saigon is an immersive cocktail experience. The location helps: a small shophouse with anonymous gray walls and peeling paint and a half-closed grill. The cocktails follow the theme: drinks named after Issac Newton, Marie Curie and Charles Darwin. And each is served on a surgical tray with squirts of salted foam, carefully placed pickled mushroom garnishes, and different pre-made cordials and handmade sodas.
Location: 12 Phan Liem, District 1
Mizuwari Social Club
Mizuwari Social Club was as Japanese-infused and as good as you’d expect from the former Suntory brand ambassador, Thanh Tung. The location is very special too, sitting as it does on the first floor of the buzzing corner between Hai Ba Trung and Ly Tu Trong. There’s a balcony where you can watch the action, signature Vesper Martini in hand. But you might prefer to be indoors at Mizuwari Social Club to enjoy the regular live music.
Location: 39 Ly Tu Trong, District 1
Warm and welcoming, The Pi, is a neighborhood spot to while away an evening. Chun and the team got to business right away, proving their proudly female-centric concept by inviting Saimai Nantarat from ABar Bangkok for a guest shift – and since then, there’s been Maria Kim from Southside Parlor and more. But, any evening, it’s a convivial place to prop up the counter, where the conversation flows as freely as the drinks.
Location: 45 Huynh Khuong Ninh, District 1
Angels’ Share, from the creators of The Rabbit Hole, was named after the spirit that evaporates in the whisk(e)y barrel. And, since it opened, lots of whisk(e)y has been disappearing at Angels’ Share. In this case, it’s mostly drunk by contented guests at their dark, hip bar that focuses on fine spirits in arty surroundings.
Location: Alley 178, Pasteur, District 1
The Hermit Cocktail Bar
The Hermit is another welcoming neighborhood spot with some elevated, flavor-first cocktails. Over a clarified Chariot, which combines two different rums and some cacao powder, Connor and The Hermit Cocktail Bar team might offer to give you a tarot card reading at the counter. The hermit, in the tarot deck, represents soul-searching and introspection, and there’s few better places than The Hermit Cocktail Bar right now to get into your feelings.
Location: 47 Pham Viet Chanh, District 1
BAR SON Saigon opened as a chic lounge across the street from the Saigon river with lots of decorative references to the bason shipyard area it calls home. Beautiful and botanical, BAR SON also serves up moreish cocktails like their Lotus Tea Negroni, and punchy plates of food, like their signature cheeseburger spring rolls. And now you can head upstairs to Boujee, once you’ve had your fill of BAR SON’s vibe dining.
Location: 3C Ton Duc Thang, District 1
The Triệu Institute
The Triệu Institute opened as a fittingly regal venue to match the eponymous heroine herself, Lady Triệu. Over in Cu Chi, the team distills gin that bears her name, flavored with botanicals from different parts of Vietnam – Mekong Delta Dry and Dalat Flowerbomb. At The Triệu Institute, they serve them alongside some flavorsome plates of food that incorporate lots of local botanicals too.
Location: 10 Mac Thi Buoi, District 1
Back in May, we sung the praises of new opening, Coco Saigon, for its soul-soothing, jazz-infused, creative vibes, at its restaurant on the right, inside Coco’s sophisticated sliding gate, and at its bar on the left as you enter. As we’ve been to the bar more often this year, for precision-made classic cocktails, and whisk(e)y, and the occasional event, we’re including Coco Saigon in the bar section although it also could fit in either. Over in the restaurant, Chef Vuong, who won Top Chef Vietnam in 2019, plays around with Vietnamese specialities by adding in French fine-dining techniques. And at the bar, Duc, formerly of PK Maltroom, heads up a cozy space with regular live music.
Location: 143 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, District 1
An ode to unsung umeshu. Behind the hip, tiled entrance, across two floors with small counters, Tsuruhara Shozo and team offer a plethora of Japanese plum wines. And they generously sit the bottle on the table in front of you to admire as you drink. They plan to expand the range from 50 to 100 bottles as soon as possible. And, added to that, there’s lots of cheekily named bites, like their crunchy, roe topped Kiss Garden and their Mommy’s Salad with potato, onion, egg, truffle chips, tomato, and parsley. Plus, there’s Tsuruhara Shozo and partner Nikichi Nagatsuyu’s Sushi Tiger next door too, in case you need a change of scene.
Location: 15B/8 Le Thanh Ton, District 1
Knowing dapper Bacardi brand-ambassador, Dat Thanh Luu, you wouldn’t be surprised to discover that his Plugs is a refined speakeasy at the industrial end of Yersin Street in District 1. There’s a piano at one end, which sometimes welcomes guest musicians. And racing green bar stools. And a menu that sticks close to the perfectly made prohibition-era classics, with the occasional twist.
Location: 11 Yersin Street, District 1
Mùa Craft Sake
As much a restaurant as a bar, we’ve dropped Mùa in here because there’s sake in the name. In fact, on a side street near craft beer joints like Belgo and BiaCraft, and rowdy local restaurants serving lẩu cá kèo, Mùa Craft Sake is switching locals over to our favorite fermented rice beverage. And it’s served with small plates of Japanese-infused food. The house sake, proudly made using Vietnam’s ST25 rice, comes in its classic form, or gently flavored. And the dishes – banh mi katsu sando and beef tataki, seared and marinated in a dashi broth – are a flavorsome accompaniment.
Location: 7 Le Ngo Cat, District 3
This bar is themed after the mythical jackalope, with its body of a rabbit and the horns of an antelope, that hangs above the bar. This Jackalope offers a real slice of Americana, as you’d expect from the founders of go-to American comfort food restaurant Wagon Wheel, and the cocktail bar, The Iron Bank. So, pull up to the counter and order a classic like a Whisky Sour or a Negroni.
Location: 56 Pho Duc Chinh, District 1
The Best New Restaurants In Saigon In 2022
A bit like the bars, there were some satisfying restaurant rebirths too, like BỜM which found a new home across town. And, at the turn of the year, Kohei Yamamoto fulfilled his dream of opening an izakaya, which he named KoroKoro, right next to his ever-popular bar on Dong Khoi Street. Likewise, Chef Curtis Demyon opened the cozy, casual dining spot, Elgin, with his pan-global plates of seafood-centric cuisine.
Jimmy Garside opened Aalto, inspired by the fiery Australian kitchens he’d worked in and, just before the end of the year, Tommy Tran helmed the sky-high S79. Besides all that, 2022 was the year of some big name brands, and some esteemed international chefs, setting up in Saigon straight after the pandemic abated perhaps with the up-coming Michelin Guide announcement in mind.
Da Vittorio Saigon
Matteo Fontana was one of those chefs. He arrived in Saigon to helm the splashy – literally thanks to their signature stir-at-the-table paccheri paste – Da Vittorio Saigon.
This is the latest outpost of the family-run Italian restaurant brand, and with the Shanghai restaurant achieving #28 in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants List, expectations are high. True to the family’s culinary ethos, Da Vittorio mostly serves elegant but creative fish dishes like their raw tuna spaghetti.
Location: 69 Dong Khoi, District 1
At Nén Light, Summer Le’s Saigon restaurant, the Sto:ry menus delve deep into Vietnamese ingredients, as the team weave tales around them. The austere industrial exterior reveals a hushed single-room dining space that feels theatrical, like the stage lights were dimmed.
That’s appropriate, as the staff have lots of information to impart about the magical edible delights that reference fluffy Danang clouds and traditional handmade dó paper. No wonder Summer called this place ‘light’ in the illuminating sense.
Location: 122 Tran Dinh Xu, District 1
The name’s a love-letter to the owner-chef David Green’s daughter. And at the restaurant, in a converted Thao Dien villa, behind the laid back charm is a fiercely creative and technique-driven kitchen that combines theater and dedication. There’s an indoor garden that lights up at night. And a kitchen enclosed with glass, where you can watch the chefs busying themselves making homemade breads like their laminated brioche and delicate dishes like their sweet shrimp warmed with olive oil and seasoned with Espelette spice.
Location: 31A Le Van Mien, Thao Dien, District 2
Clay is the latest opening from the team behind Tinto, another of Saigon’s best restaurants for 2022, and their poolside The Brix. Here, by the river a few hundred meters from their other venues, the team balance a modern Asian eatery serving Japanese scallops and barramundi with a tom yum emulsion with a bar serving appropriately sun-kissed cocktails like their coconut-rum fueled Meanwhile In Bali.
Location: 10 Street 6, Thao Dien, District 2
TRE Dining is full of bamboo, the symbol of Asian resilience. It’s there in the ceiling beams and imprinted on the walls. And from TRE Dining’s breathtaking balcony, it feels as if Saigon is growing, right in front of you, at the same rate. Out there, is a cocktail bar serving Bamboo Shoot Soup Cocktails and some serious sake, and inside is a counter, where you can watch the chefs serve sophisticated modern Vietnamese dishes that recall their childhoods. Oh, and there’s an exploding rose for dessert.
Location: 35 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, District 2
Lửa is the kind of restaurant chefs love. There’s the commitment to fresh produce, and to bringing in some obscure bottles of natural wines. And Mark and sommelier Yu serve them up with the infectious passion of food and drink obsessives who get to do what they love in a part of town that’s been called Saigon’s coolest neighborhood.
Location: 6 Street 11, Thao Dien, District 2
You could easily drop Kanpai into either the bar or the restaurant list. That’s because Kanpai is part omakase restaurant and part vinyl listening room. Co-founded by DJ and producer MAQman and Takayuki, who’s a fashion designer, an avid record collector and chef (and for those with long enough memories also the founder of La Fenetre Soleil), at Kanpai you can enjoy omakase with some house Masumi sake, and then shake off the calories dancing in front of the DJ booth.
Location: 44 Ngo Quang Huy, Thao Dien, District
Madame Lam Restaurant
While everyone seems to be exploring modern Vietnamese cuisine, Madame Lam is reliably throw-back. There’s the tiled floors, wooden ceiling beams and an altar at the entrance. That’s not to say Chef Cuong sticks completely with tradition. He throws some sour mango into his bo luc lac and elsewhere serves his softshell crab with a jellyfish salad in what he calls contemporary Vietnamese cuisine.
Location: 10 Tran Ngoc Dien, Thao Dien, District 2
Aside from the usuals – Stoker and El Gaucho – and the more affordable chains like Topping Beef, we’re often unsure where to get a good steak. C’s Steakhouse came to the rescue this year, with prime cuts of dry-aged beef served up at affordable prices in a venue full of mob movie memorabilia.
Location: 50 Truong Dinh, District 1
Sóno Grill & Bar
Sóno is sound. So, at this new Thao Dien restaurant, the team amplify the auditory experience while serving up wood-fired cuisine that puts Vietnamese ingredients front and centre. Chef Diep adds in some Asian accents, and lots of smoke to dishes like his freshly caught Phu Quoc Vietnamese grouper that he serves Lã Vọng-style, or go more primal and order the 21-day dry-aged Spanish chestnut-fed pork chop.
Location: 215B, 37 Nguyen Van Huong, Thao Dien, District 2