First off, if this list seems long, that’s because we didn’t even have time to post the last one! In our defense, that’s a testament to Saigon’s scintillating drinking and dining scenes. Sure, it’s been a flat year economically, but that hasn’t stopped the green shoots sprouting in the scene – giving us more choice than ever from bear caves to palatial fine dining, this is the Saigon hot list of the best new places to eat and drink right now.
Đọc bài viết bằng Tiếng Việt
There’s a frisson of excitement right now as a generation of young chefs graduate to take the reigns of places like Little Bear, the hip Thao Dien eatery helmed by Nhat Duy and Truong Hiep.
Chefs like Singaporean Chris Fong are adding to the richness of the scene too – and the gentle gentrification of Tan Dinh Ward – with his Oryz where he’s serving an ingredient-driven vision of Asian cuisine.
And, besides all that, one of our favorite graffiti artists has turned his mind to pizza making, Adrian Chong Yen has resurrected his Taco Del Sol, and there are lounges and palatial spaces aplenty, in this, our extended Saigon hot list of the best new places to eat and drink right now.
We always have an eye on what the next generation are doing, whether it’s the I-Bartender competition or NOSH Young Guns series. So, naturally, we received the news that two of the NOSH Young Guns chefs – Chef Duy and Chef Truong Hiep – had signed up for a new project with great excitement.
And already, there’s a playful energy emanating from this new Thao Dien eatery. There, Duy and Truong Hiep are serving up a five-course set menu or a la carte options and daily specials in a moodily lit space with an outdoor area for intimate gatherings. And alongside, there’s funky natural and low-intervention wines all served in what the team have dubbed their “bear cave.”
In Short: Cave in to temptation at Little Bear.
Location: 36 Nguyễn Bá Huân, Thảo Điền, District 2, HCMC
Low-rise. Lethargic. But loaded with great bars and restaurants. This is District 1’s Tan Dinh Ward – the conflagration of streets that roughly spread out like tentacles from the ward’s market (of the same name).
Now add chef and founder Chris Fong’s Oryz to the long list of places to eat around here. Oryz sees him weaving an ingredient-driven vision of Asian cuisine. Throw in some artful fermentation techniques and quality locally-sourced produce that become dishes like Chris’ Canh Bí Đao that flips the traditional winter melon soup into a sublime winter melon salad or Sapa trout instilled with the essence of Canh Chua, our sweet and sour soup.
Like any good soup, the culinary voyage that has culminated in Oryz didn’t happen instantly – picture hours of simmering, careful fermentation and the ancient art of salting.
“We want to create timeless flavors,” Chris explains. “That means allowing flavors to mature, then blending them into a dance of sensory pleasure.”
There’s even a fermentation room that Chris happily offers tours of. But he’s not just doing it out of goodwill, he tells us.
“When I sit among all those jars of fermented ingredients, touched by the hand of time, I’m filled with creative ideas,” he smiles.
In short: At Oryz, the slow taste of time gently touches each sense.
Địa điểm: 51 Trần Nhật Duật, Phường Tân Định, Quận 1
First off, full-disclosure: SubyOne is a hometown hero of ours. He’s bridged the gap between street art and art gallery, and his graffiti work appears everywhere from the urban underpasses to the walls of fine dining restaurants like Anan Saigon and Akuna. With friends Ben and Misha – who share his insatiable appetite for creativity – now he’s making pizza. “Detroit-style pizza,” he elaborates.
For the uninitiated, that means a rectangular pan pizza, in this case cut into 6 pieces, with a crispy, chewy crust. They knead the dough by hand and ferment it for 48 hours, helping to draw out its rich flavors while making it easy on the stomach. The process gives it an inner softness with a super crispy texture on the base.
“I think when you come here you should try sitting at the cutting counter to hear the crunchy sound of the pieces being cut,” SubyOne recommends. “And as you do that, vibe to our playlist of Detroit artists like The Black Keys and Sixto.”
Although Lamie Pizza offers a globetrotting assortment of toppings – traditional Italian, Arabic Merguez sausage, American pepperoni, and Indian chicken tikka – SubyOne suggests first-timers start with the classic Motown pizza with melted mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce and pepperoni.
In short: Motorcity pan pizzas are not for squares.
Location: 158/4 Nguyen Cong Tru, Nguyen Thai Binh Ward, District 1
Taco Del Sol
Was it just a pre-COVID fever dream? Did a fun, funky taco restaurant fleetingly open up below a bridge in District 7 before disappearing? And was it the work of Sol Kitchen + Bar’s Adrien Chong Yen?
It really was real. And this is the glorious resurrection!
Now, Tao Del Sol is perched atop the building a block or two from Ben Thanh Market that also has a Pasteur Street Taproom on the ground floor and upstairs Adrian’s reclocated Sol Kitchen + Bar, and, above that, Yuzu Omakase.
It’s colorful. And it’s bustling. “Something like stepping into the streets of Mexico City,” Adrian smiles. There’s indoor and outdoor seating to watch the sunset over the cacophony of Ly Tu Trong Street, and a large open kitchen to admire the industrious chefs’ work.
“I recommend the Carne Asada Tacos – our bestseller. The special thing about this dish is that instead of using traditional cuts of beef, we cook Wagyu beef brisket and grill it on the stovetop which gives it a slight smoky flavor and a crispy crust while the meat inside remains soft and tender,” Adrian adds.
In Short The resurrection of a Mexican myth.
Location: Floors 4-5, 110-112 Ly Tu Trong, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1
Among its many charms, Saigon’s full of collaborative energy. It feels like every edition of this, our new places list, comes with a collaborative curve ball or two – in this case electronic music producer and DJ Nodey teaming up with Will from Luu Bar to create a rooftop space as cozy as a cocoon.
Added to that, Nodey and Will have enlisted the Sushi Tiger team to serve sushi, in case guests want a bite to go alongside their cocktail – Cocoon Mules and Sassy Skies.
But, as you might expect from a DJ and a denizen of Pham VIet Chanh’s after-dark scene, the music program is especially on-point with vinyl-only events, Berlin-club-scene-inspired house and techno nights, and naturally, the odd appearance from Nodey in the booth.
In Short: A rooftop cocoon built on collaboration.
Address: 105 Co Giang, District 1, HCMC
Mạch’s sense of place is pitch-perfect – a chic urban, Vietnamese ingredient-inspired cocktail bar and robata slap bang in Dakao Ward. The spot next to the Jade Emperor Pagoda is kind of incongruous, but still, you head down the short alley beside the pagoda and the minimal frontage of Mạch greets you.
Inside there’s two counters – with one for drinks, a swimming-pool deep, extra smooth Mạch Negroni with silky pandan – and one with an open grill, and portions of fresh flash-flamed squid.
It feels like an izakaya with a very Vietnamese makeover – they serve homemade delicious and slightly sweet apricot wine, “that will make you feel comfortable from the first sip” and a menu of skewers, king oyster mushrooms, rolled bacon and pork belly, and a host of other grilled dishes, besides that delicious squid.
And with its warm welcome and convivial vibe inside it’s no surprise to learn that Mạch was created by three friends – Luu Van Bieu, Hoang Vinh Tung and Lam Ngoc Ngan.
They liked hanging out in izakayas, and the popular book ‘Bổ Được Cà Chua, Mở Được Tiệm Cơm. Bật Được Nắp Chai, Mở Được Quán Nhậu’ which translates as ‘If You Can Grow Tomatoes, You Can Open A Restaurant. If You Can Open A Bottle, You Can Open A Pub,’ had given them self-belief. “And that’s how we made Mạch,” they tell us.
In Short: A friendly neighborhood izakaya with Vietnamese touches.
Eden – Lounge & Bespoke Cocktail
Eden, in Hebrew, means ‘place of pleasure’ – God’s garden of paradise for Adam and Eve. The cocktails back then probably weren’t as refined. But times change.
The newly opened Eden – Lounge & Bespoke Cocktail is pleasurable as well – with its views, from the building at 68 Ngo Duc Khe’s 3rd floor, out towards the bustling Nguyen Hue and Bitexco Tower give some calm among the chaos and tranquility.
In Short: A new downtown place of pleasure.
Location: Floor 3, Ngo Duc Khe, District 1
The grandly named Le Palais lives up to the billing – an immersive, palatial venue divided into dining and banqueting concepts, in a space adorned with neoclassical European affectations – grand canvases, elaborate chandeliers, and parquet floors.
“We wanted to create a feast…for all the senses,” the Le Palais team tells us.
Chef Trinh Dinh Vinh, formerly of the Park Hyatt and Vietnam House, incorporates elements of French, Italian and Vietnamese cuisine into dishes like his ‘Glamor’ set menu – that includes Hokkaido scallops with black garlic and macadamia sauces and a miso-grilled abalone with squid ink linguine – and a la carte dishes like his stewed osso buco beef with saffron risotto.
“The concept was to create these journeys,” Chef Vinh smiles. “So we serve sequences of dishes that have emotional peaks,” he adds proudly.
And Le Palais has four floors to enjoy the cuisine across, whether it’s a personal meal or with friends, a date for couples or banquets of up to a hundred people.
In Short: Palatial grandeur and delectable dining at Le Palais.
Location: 23 Tran Bach Dang, Thu Thiem Ward, District 2