Northwest of District 1, clogged thoroughfares give way to orderly boulevards walled by French colonial architecture hidden from the afternoon sun by the generous shade of massive dipterocarp trees looming overhead. Embarrassingly few tourists make it beyond the buzz of the city centre, but those who do are welcomed to a more relaxed way of life. In less travelled District 3, things move by just a notch slower, the air feels noticeably cleaner and the food, well, the food remains the same — delicious.
Social Club Saigon
Bar, Restaurant, European, Beer, Wine, $$$
Social Club Saigon is a unique fine dining experience with floor-to-ceiling windows offering splendid views of a changing metropolis. On the 23rd floor of the Hotel des Arts Saigon, this establishment caters to Westerners and wealthier Vietnamese. The cocktails are tasty and the food outstanding — don’t miss the mixed meat platter. Social Club Saigon also has one of the best Sunday brunches around.
The newly renovated rooftop of Shri Restaurant & Lounge still offers up the same old favourites that have made this one of Saigon’s premier dining experiences for the last decade. The views alone are worth the trip, yet the food — a blend of traditional Vietnamese and Western — is sure not to disappoint either. For the meat lovers out there, Shri grills up one of the best steaks in the city.
Stylish, contemporary and chic, Ly Club is not the best place to rock that stained tank-top that you just can’t shed. This is one Saigon eatery that oozes class. Serving some of the city’s best Asian Fusion in one of the most beautiful environments, it’s no wonder a meal here will set you back.
Flooded with light, this contemporary joint serves up great Vietnamese food with a modern twist. The portions are larger than other similarly priced restaurants and the wait staff are as attentive as they are helpful. The spring rolls are a can’t-miss in this trendy establishment.
With some of the best seafood in town, Hong Hai is usually packed with a nice mix of locals and more adventurous travellers. This cavernous, open space, is well-priced — particularly in comparison to other seafood establishments. The many varying snail plates are the most popular dishes.
Perhaps the healthiest entry on our list, HUM has become quite famous around town for its creative spin on all things vegetarian.This restaurant is housed in a pleasantly simple and modest building with a friendly staff that focus all their effort on crafting only the finest of vegetarian dishes. In Saigon, there’s no place better for eating green.
If you’re a fan of Teppanyaki, then this is the place for you. While Kobe is keen to avoid the theatrics that are commonplace in the states, they fill any void left by the lack of stagecraft with excellent food. The beef is very high quality and the seafood options are delectable. The salmon grilled in a specialty wine sauce is a must-try. The prices are on the high side, but for a private chef and an exquisite dining experience, it’s all worth it.
Bar, Restaurant, Contemporary, Vietnamese, European
Hidden down a tree-lined alleyway, Hideaway is a nice little romantic spot with great prices. The food is a tasty combination of Vietnamese and international, and the cocktails are tart and complex. This cosy, secluded spot is a great place for a date.
Atelier des Reves Bistro is owned and operated by a French-Vietkieu couple who possess an undeniable love for both cultures. This secretive spot features some of the finest French Cuisine in the region — both from a flavour and presentation standpoint.
Perhaps it’s our love of the canal snaking it’s way between District 1, 3 and Phu Nhuan, or perhaps it’s our obsession with all things barbecue, we’re not quite sure. What we do know is that Phatcat is home to some of the cheapest, delicious barbecue in Saigon. Stop by for some ribs and a Tiger and relax on the cool banks of the canal.