Photo by Bao Zoan

Situated in a prime location in District 1, Lavastone BBQ & Cocktail House blends into the bustle of the area with its full-length glass front framed by black-painted steel. The space inside has an American industrial ambience combined with classic European-style twists, making the place both attractive yet unusual. The Japanese elements — Japanese rice wine kept cool in a container at the front door and the upstairs furnished with Japanese-style chairs and tables, adds to the effect.

Photo by Julie Vola

If this restaurant had a mascot, it would be butter. “When in doubt, just chuck some butter in it,” laughs Chef Patrick Morris, and he’s right. Rich and heavy, every dish wraps you in the comfort of American-style steakhouse decadence.

La Habana. Photo by Francis Xavier

A 12-year veteran of the Saigon scene, La Habana maintains its charming, Spanish-terrace-inspired premises in District 1. Any night of the week, just off the main drag of Hai Ba Trung and along Cao Ba Quat, you’ll hear live music floating from its cavernous entertainment area. On the Thursday night we visited, it was ballad night, and a regular band from the Philippines were filling the place.

Le Corto. Photo by Kyle Phanroy

I’ve eaten at Le Corto three times, the first two times with the owners. On the third occasion I went unannounced with a friend. What I was told before turned out to be correct; thanks to their reasonably priced set lunch (VND180,000 for two courses, VND250,000 for three), even their lunchtimes are busy at the moment. It was a Tuesday and we were lucky to get a table.

Family Garden. Photo by Kyle Phanroy 

If you live in Saigon and are the complaining type, one of the things you’ve probably complained about, and with some justification, is the lack of green space in this city. It’s hardly a new debate.

Open since November 2014, North End first came into being as a village ‘providore’ of sorts, starting life supplying hungry Thao Dien expats with imported gourmet meats and produce.

In among the bustle of downtown Hoan Kiem lives Highway 4, an elegant yet laid-back setting with a knockout menu and an impressive selection of award-winning traditional rice liquors, all under the roof of a renovated French villa dating back to the 1950s; yellow brick with an inviting sign hanging over the door, nestled in green ivy.

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