Though looks aren’t everything, it’s hard not to be dazzled by Ly Club’s plush aesthetic beauty — itself a homage to the creative prowess of the Ly Dynasty. Elegant yet casual, we sit in a softly lit and greenly shrouded front garden, surrounded by comfy French-style garden furniture atop a raised wooden deck area. A stunning infinity fountain, a vast French colonial villa and a sleek outdoor bar make for captivating eye candy. The cacophonous rush hour traffic is replaced by the swirl of Eurasian lounge music.

With the increasing cosmopolitan nature of this city and diners’ willingness to dabble in the exotic, the addition of Chile House, the first Chilean restaurant in Saigon, should be regarded less as a surprise and more an inevitability.

Opened in 2002 and named after the late Danish cartoonist and illustrator Robert Storm Petersen, this no-frills Scandinavian eatery and bar serves up hearty and wholesome, home cooked-style Danish and Bavarian-inspired cuisine in a quaint and cosy setting.

If any restaurant currently epitomises the ‘new’ Ho Chi Minh City, it’s Koh Thai. From its chic and voguish décor to the menu’s unique and contemporary twist on authentic Thai cuisine, this recently opened venue screams modernity. Upon our visit the emerging middle-income Vietnamese occupy the majority of the dining tables.

Established in 2004 in Yangon, Myanmar, Monsoon Restaurant & Bar officially opened its Saigon outlet last month. Specialising in pan-Southeast Asian fare and offering a host of signature dishes from Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, the restaurant has been beautifully designed in a stunningly revamped French colonial-era villa, located minutes away from the backpacker area.

Curry and cold beer. It’s just one of those combinations that seems to work. And it’s a theme that the Saigon South bar, Peaches, has used to good effect. Not only is there a novelty factor — most bar food in this town mixes standard international fare with the odd dumbed down Vietnamese dish — but with dishes coming from all around the region, it’s a theme that is somehow more fitting to the taste buds of Vietnam. So, as a curry lover, it was with relish that I rocked up to this Phu My Hung mainstay.

Located in a restored French colonial-era villa in a quiet hem between the corner of Hai Ba Trung and Dien Bien Phu, the entrance to My Place resembles a quasi botanical-cum-Zen garden with ferns, coleus, devil’s ivy, bamboo and lotus leaves sprouting out around a short wooden track that gives way to an under-glass fishpond walkway.

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