The Top 10 Dot Magazine Stories From 2021

What a year. After breezing through the first waves of the pandemic, the fourth wave hit hard. Somehow, we made it to the other side. And we all got to know ourselves a bit more during the months of lockdown. For better or worse. The Dot Magazine stayed productive too. We covered what’s hip from the capital to the buzzing southern city we call home. So, here’s The Dot Magazine’s ten most read stories from 2021, recapped just for you.

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We kicked off the year in a hopeful mood, following food blogger Uyen Dang into Saigon’s last downtown wet market. Peter Cuong Franklin tagged along too. His restaurant, Anan, picked up a place in Asia’s Best 50 while being named the best restaurant in Vietnam. Then in March, Wink Hotels opened its first hotel. That prompted The Dot Magazine to search the city even harder for the best restaurants and bars to send our guests, and to share with in-the-know locals like you. Somehow, amidst the dark clouds of the pandemic, places kept opening…right up until lockdown. Unbowed, we headed over to check out how some of our favorite chefs were doing in lockdown, and to check the contents of their fridges. And we asked some other reputable locals about their travel plans for when the pandemic abated. Then, released from lockdown, there have been blind dates. And more openings in F&B. Which brings us right up to date. 

#1 The Dot’s Blind Date In Saigon: “My date was tall, had a nice smile and two black eyes!”

Wink is for the entrepreneurs, the explorers, the creatives, and especially the lovers. To celebrate that, we started a series of blind dates. And we kicked off with a classic.

Our first blind date in Saigon.

Travel entrepreneur Sarah had high hopes. Bob had a broken nose and two black eyes. That didn’t stop them having a great time at Iberico Tapas & Vino. Afterwards, they hung out at Wink drinking at our 24-hour bar until the small hours. What readers didn’t realize was our photographer thought they were models doing a shoot to promote our blind date series. But they’d only just met, and he kept imploring them to get closer and closer for the photos. Awkward. But, despite that, was there a romantic spark? Read on to find out. And watch out for more blind dates coming soon…

Sarah and Bob at Iberico, District 2.

Read on in English

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#2 Bubu Food Show Blogger Uyen Dang’s Guide To Saigon

“Bánh tráng nướng cooked on a roadside grill. Modern Vietnamese pop-up restaurants. Japan town’s ramen. Fine dining spots with hints of Asian and other global flavors. A cup of morning cold brew, or a cocktail in a rocking bar,” food blogger Uyen Dang, better known as Bubu, told us about her passion for Saigon’s food and drink scene.

Bubu took us on a trip down Ton That Dam, where we discovered award-winning restaurateur, Peter Cuong Franklin.

We did the photoshoot in the Ton That Dam wet market, home to Anan restaurant. And so it’s multi-award-winning chef-owner Peter Cuong Franklin came along for the shoot too. 

Foodie, Uyen Dang, hanging out in Saigon’s last downtown wet market.

Read on in English 

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#3 Five New Bars And Restaurants In Hanoi To Try Right Now 

The team was supposed to be taking a break in May in Hanoi. That was until they discovered the bar and restaurant scene in the capital was exploding. Holiday cancelled.

The Haflington, one of the bars redefining the scene in Hanoi.

They spent the next few days running around, getting to know a Korean gastropub, a design-conscious burger bistro, two museum-themed bars, and a new age vegetarian restaurant. Who needs a holiday when you can eat or drink this well?

Party vibes at Mildang, Hanoi.

Read on in English

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#4 What’s In The Fridges Of Some Of Saigon’s Best Chefs

Our hearts went out to the beleaguered F&B industry this year. What a rollercoaster. To help retain the buzz and to check in on some of our favorite chefs, we headed over to meet the family in lockdown.

While checking on our favorite chefs, we had to check out their fridges too.

While we were there, our inquisitive nature got the better of us, and we took a peek in their fridges. What, we wondered, was their diet like at home away from their superb spots? And we let you take a peek inside too. Spoiler alert: there was a lot of wine!

, Julien Perraudin from Quince with his two sons, Aymeric and Antonin.

Read on in English

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#5 Dogs In Lockdown: How Our Favorite Pooches Survived The Dark Days Of The Pandemic 

We figured dogs didn’t get much coverage during lockdown. It must have been hard for them too. Few chances to go walkies, shut off from their favorite snack stalls.

Crumpet and Butter in the dark days of the lockdown.

So, we reached out to four illustrious dogs. And we asked them how they’d been feeling, and what they planned to do once lockdown was lifted. In support, we also rebranded The Dot Magazine as The Dog Magazine. Gâu, gâu, gâu!

Ninh Tito’s bored beagle, Dua Hau.

Read on in English

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#6 The Best New Places To Eat, Drink And Chill In Saigon Today

In hindsight, we probably got a bit excited. Things felt normal back in March. The rest of the world had been hit hard, while Vietnam had been remarkably resilient to the pandemic. In a buoyant mood, we reported on some exciting new openings in Saigon. Å by TUNG was Hoang Tung’s new adventure here after the success of T.U.N.G Dining Hanoi.

Scandinavian cool at Å by TUNG.

There was Lavelle Library, that’s become a go-to event space and French fine-dining spot. And we spent countless bleary nights in Boo Sg, The Dot Bar, and The Tailor’s. Then there’s NAGE, a nominee for our restaurant of the year. Not everyone on the list survived the dark days that were to come…

The all-star team at Stir – Modern Classic Cocktail, joined by Doozy Hanoi’s Vu Ngoc.

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 #7 The Dot Magazine’s Lockdown Diaries

Unsurprisingly, the lockdown dominated our stories. It felt important to share testimony, retain a sense of community, and to put some smiles on the faces of Saigon’s residents we call friends.

Mee Huynh, YouTube show producer, shared exercise tips, delivery favorites, and the joys of online dating during a pandemic.

Plus, we wanted some tips on where to get our next meal! Who better to ask than a bunch of chefs and foodies? Our Lockdown Diaries explored the food delivery scene and much more. We discovered exercise routines to make up for gym closures, some TV shows to watch, and online dating in a pandemic.

Read on in English

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#8 Photographer Kmon Nguyen On His Minimal Spontaneous Street Style 

We love to explore the work of some of the Vietnam’s most interesting photographers. This time around, we discovered one with a unique take on Saigon. Kmon Nguyen describes his work as minimalist streetstyle.

Incredibly, this bird dropped by for the shoot. Another Kmon fan?

But it’s his ability to capture magical moments that really caught our eye. And during the shoot, the strangest thing happened. A bird jumped down and hung out while we took photos of Kmon. Maybe just another fan of the photographer’s work? 

Kmon poised to get the perfect shot.

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#9 The Freckles Studios’ Securely Insecure Founder Jasmine Quyen Tran Opens Up At Wink

We invited super-cool fashion brand founder, Jasmine Tran over to tell us about her brand Freckles Studios.

Jasmine Quyen Tran in bed at Wink.

Little did we know Jasmine was a globetrotting cool hunter – Saigon. New York. Seattle. Tuscany. Taiwan – who’d just returned to start her own brand with its fun, carefree branding and social media presence and an ever-evolving conceptual approach to pop-up stores. 

Going behind the fun and fresh brand, Freckles Studios.

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#10 The Best New Places To Eat, Drink And Get Creative In Saigon Right Now!

Just published. But it shows the pent-up desire to go drinking, eating or to just enjoy an event or two, especially of a creative nature.

Nightfall at Pickles, one of our favorite new spots…and yours too.

We’re far from out of danger from the pandemic, with its new strains, but these pioneers have flipped a middle finger and opened anyway. And we’re glad they did. From stylish downtown coffee shops to minimalist cocktail bars, it’s reassuring that the buzz is back!

Yentown’s Japanese menu about to be devoured.

Read on in English

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