Your Hot List Of The Best New Bars And Restaurants In Saigon To Start 2024

The best new bars and restaurants in HCMC 2024

The start of 2024 didn’t just welcome the year of the dragon, but it welcomed Peruvian dining to District 1 at Yunka Saigon, an upstairs dive bar, The Tipsy Department, the anticipated return of Enigma, with Enigma Mansion, and Shri, as Shri Lifestyle & Dining, family-style Malaysian dining at Lesung, and the soon-to-open whisky bar, Whisky Lane, by one of the city’s most respected mixologists. 

Đọc bài viết bằng Tiếng Việt

Stop scrolling. Call your friends. And go out to any one of these all-killer no-filler new places to eat and drink in Saigon. And that’s an order.

Yunka 

The name might sound like an unreleased Kanye album. But Yunka is, in fact, the new restaurant from the tireless team behind Clay, Tinto and The Brix. And it’s their first foray into the bright lights of downtown District 1 (80 Dong Khoi Street, District 1). 

Those first three concepts, poolside Brix, Nikkei cuisine-oriented Tinto, and riverside Clay are all a stone’s throw away from each other in District 2’s Thao Dien Ward. 

The elegant and edgy Yunka Saigon.

Here, they’ve taken over the historic corner spot on Dong Khoi and Dong Du above what was once Tu Do nightclub (it’s a far tamer Trung Nguyen Legend cafe these days).

“Elegant and edgy” with a stellar team including Emilio Moscati, Yunka has stuck with the Peruvian-Japanese theme they began to explore at Tinto – a nice throwback to the days when Blanchy’s Street served the best Peruvian-inspired chicken in town a block or two away. 

Here, expect ceviches and sushi rolls, yakitori and Wagyu steaks, tropically-infused classic cocktails like their Spicy Mango Margarita, and lots of sours, and sakes that are accessibly-served by the glass, tokkuri, or bottle. 

The terrarium-like interior features flashes of plum lampshades, emerald green tiling, and gold colored stools at the counter, and views on the throng of Dong Khoi and Dong Du right outside.  

Expect expect ceviches and sushi rolls at Yunka.

The Enigma Mansion 

They probably needed a breather. After inviting an endless array of the region’s best bar talents over for guest shifts – the team from Nighthawk Singapore and Bacardi Legacy Winner Pok Praphakorn – suddenly, the space library-themed cocktail bar closed its doors and allowed the neon lights to flicker out. 

The Enigma Mansion Team
The team at The Enigma Mansion.

But they did so with a promise to return, and here it is. 

Gone are the neo-Tokyo, trapped inside a reading room on a space spaceship vibes, to be replaced with something far more refined: The Enigma Mansion (5H Ton Duc Thang, District 1). 

There’s exposed brickwork, booths upstairs and anterooms elsewhere, and co-founder Vu Ngoc, and bartenders Thong Hoai and Loan, back where they belong, in dapper salmon-colored uniforms, beneath a fitting phoenix-from-the-flames sculpture that’s suspended from the ceiling. 

Expect experimental cocktails and perfectly made classics, and another stream of local and international guest shifts. 

The Enigma Mansion
The old-meets-new interior reflects the cocktails at The Enigma Mansion.

Lesung 

We recently interviewed Eden and Tommy, the team behind Lesung, but it’s still new enough (and good enough) for another mention here. 

They’ve set up Lesung (72/1 Tran Quoc Toan, District 3) – taken from batu lesung which means pestle and mortar in Malay – in a breezy location down an alley in District 3, replete with a large terrace and a romantically-lit interior dining room. 

Lesung Saigon Malaysian restaurant
Saigon Malaysian restaurant Lesung’s breezy terrace.

Malaysia-born chef Eden has kept the menu traditional – there’s even a 150-year-old batu lesung laying around, passed down through generations of his family, as a sign of respect to his home-cooked meals growing up. 

And, although the dishes occasionally employ elevated ingredients, Rendang with Short Ribs and an Opor – a rich coconut dish infused with lemongrass – with beef cheek, it’s mostly respectfully-prepared and accessibly-priced Malaysian classics like Ikan Bakar and Chicken Kuzi.

Nyonya Lamb Shank Curry
Lesung Saigons Nyonya Lamb Shank Curry.

Tipsy Department 

The clue is in the name at Tipsy Department (57 Nguyen Du, District 1). 

Liam, the founder of modernist cocktail bars Hybrid Nha Trang and Hybrid Saigon, has reclaimed the space where he used to work before all that. 

Saigon dive bar Tipsy Department
The clue is in the name at Tipsy Department.

At what was once Irusu Lounge, he’s stripped away all the Japanese design touches, and turned it into a dive bar, even though it’s actually not in a basement (find it on the 1st and 2nd floors down an alley opposite the Cathedral). 

There, he’s joined by mixologists like Khinh, formerly of Summer Experiment, in a space with chalk board menus, graffiti covered walls and video games. 

Mostly the team just want to get you tipsy, with a throw-back menu – Screwdrivers, boozy slushies, cocktails on tap, and tequila shots – simple but satisfying bar snacks like braised beef and bean nachos, and a three-hour long daily happy hour (from 6-9PM) and very late opening with the team reluctantly flipping the closed sign at 3AM.

“It’s a contemporary dive bar, with tasty bites, and fun vibes,” Liam smiles beneath the mirror ball whirring away above the bar, shrugging off the trend for high-concept cocktail bars, which he’s partly responsible for starting.

Saigon Dive Bar Tipsy Department
Saigon dive bar, Tipsy Department.

Shri Lifestyle & Dining 

Shri Restaurant & Bar was a perennial favorite Saigon sky-bar-meets-restaurant, with stunning views down Hai Ba Trung from the terrace, dining inside, and a fun speakeasy in the back. It felt disjointed, but that was the point of the multi-purpose venue. 

Shri rooftop bar in Saigon
Sofas and views on the Shri terrace.

Now, reimagined as Shri Lifestyle & Dining (Level 23, CENTEC Tower, 72-74 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai), Shri feels one again: a artily-framed doorway leads into a sleek dining room, which precedes a sofa strewn terrace. The cocktails feels part of the new found cohesion too – a spiced-rum based, Earl Grey-Rosemary Cordial infused Saigon By Night, or a sundown spritz-style Shri Sunset and a Heart Of Darkness,  with rum, tamarind and tabasco. 

And the European-centric food menu offers Grilled Oysters with Apple Sauce, Pan-fried Foie Gras, King Prawn with Squid Ink Pasta, and lots of meaty mains like the Pan-Fried Ribeye with Honey Mustard Sauce, all so artfully presented, they might distract you from the views…for a moment at least. 

Shri
A more cohesive space at Shri Lifestyle & Dining.

Take Izakaya

There’s always room for one more in Saigon’s insatiable appetite for izakayas. 

Japan Town’s booming. Pham Viet Chanh’s thriving. So, it’s not surprising that they’ve flipped the 52/3 Dong Du concept into a poppy, two-floor izakaya, called Take, that yells ‘kampai’ loudly in your ear.

Take Izakaya in Saigon
Take Izakaya shouts ‘kanpai’ in your ear.

At Take Izakaya (52/3 Dong Du, District 1) here’s a (dangerous) daily ‘nomihodai’ (drink as much as you want) – with sake, house highballs or beer for 180K from 5-8PM. There are skewers nights and oyster nights (when both are only 15K each), but every night is a righteous time, especially on the top floor around the horseshoe-shaped counter. 

In fact, Take screams Shibuya so loudly, you wouldn’t be surprised to find a passed out salaryman or two in the alley outside. 

Kanpai! At Take Izakaya
Nomihodai time at Take Izakaya.

Whisky Lane

We’re a little premature with this one, but there’s a lot of excitement about Gregory Jacob’s triumphant return to downtown District 1, with Whisky Lane (15 Phan Van Dat, District 1). 

Greg spent the last year or so on Pham Viet Chanh, at his superbike-inspired Victory Bar. 

He’s arguably the creator of the city’s best Whisky Sour. And he has a record of creating cocktail menus as ingenious historical archives brought right up to date. 

So, Whisky Lane, which opens in April, promises to offer a refined time with single malts and classic cocktails on its mind. 

This is one for the connoisseurs. 


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