Dwarfed by the towering Sky Garden apartment complex across the street, Confidant can be found on the corner of Hung Gia 2 and Pham Van Nghi streets (off Nguyen Van Linh) at the quieter, leafier end of the neighbourhood. Look for a white, four-story villa opposite a Circle K convenience store. It’s also pinned on Google maps.
The Real Thing
There are a number of reasons why Confidant is worth a try, but the main one is the food. Outside of Nguyen An Ninh street near Ben Thanh Market and Dong Du street in District 1, Confidant serves up some of the most authentic Singaporean and Malaysian fare in Ho Chi Minh City, if not Vietnam.
A “Confi” favourite is the fish-head curry. It’s a great choice to share among a group of three or four people. There’s a choice of large (VND360,000) or small (VND320,000). The regular Singaporean and Malaysian clientele say it’s the closest thing to the real taste in Vietnam.
The curry comes out bubbling in a large pot filled with vegetables that you can dip into at any time. The pieces of pineapple add sweetness, which sets it apart from more traditional fish-head curries.
Other dishes that get the nod from the Singaporeans and Malaysians are the Penang char kway teow (VND115,000), the Singapore chicken curry (VND140,000), and the beef or chicken rendang (VND140,000).
For pork lovers, there are kinh do ribs (VND160,000), which are a popular choice among the Filipino regulars at Confidant. Four ribs come glazed in a sweet, treacle-like barbecue marinade sprinkled with sesame seeds. The ribs are some of the thickest and juiciest going.
Then there’s the Indonesian chicken belachan (VND145,000). Typically, it’s fried chicken wings, but sometimes a drumstick, served in a spicy shrimp paste that’s also common to Malaysian cuisine. The shrimp paste has a pungent smell that might turn some diners off at first, but this is its signature aroma and be assured, its taste is much better than its smell.
One final Confidant favourite is the Malaysian fried rice (VND120,000). It’s a serving of brown fried rice embedded with mini-shrimp topped with a fried egg sunny-side up alongside a fried chicken wing. To liven things up, it comes with a spicy sambal paste on the side that can be added to suit personal taste.
While the drinks list at Confidant isn’t as extensive as the food menu, there’s enough to keep everyone happy. For non-drinkers there are three kinds of Italian soda (VND65,000) with some imaginative names like Night in White Satin, Once in a Red Moon, and Into the Night of Blue.
There’s a small selection of cocktails ranging in price from VND75,000 for the Silent Killer (gin and orange) to VND125,000 for a Blue Lagoon (vodka and blue curacao).
Wine by the bottle from Australia, Chile, Argentina, and South Africa ranges from VND495,000 to VND795,000, while beer drinkers can get stuck into happy hour from 5pm to 7pm daily from VND35,000 for a Tiger draught. Skiving off work? Head down from 11am to 3pm for VND22,000 Heineken and enjoy 20% off lunch at the same time. On Friday nights there’s 20% off food, too.
Confidant also has a space upstairs big enough for parties and large gatherings, so the venue caters for those looking for a quiet drink with friends as well as those wanting a venue for an upcoming party.
Confidant is at #R1-72 Hung Gia 2, Phu My Hung, Q7, HCMC and is open Mondays from 4pm to 11pm and from 11am to 11pm Tuesday to Sunday. Visit facebook.com/confidant.hcmc.vn or call (08) 5410 9898 or 0909 882478 for bookings and delivery
Photos by Mike Palumbo