There was a touch of poetic irony on the day we headed to Hanoi’s first authentic French creperie. The weather was cold, the skies were grey and it was pouring with rain. While not exactly the ideal conditions for zipping around town on a scooter, it gave us an appreciation for why the people of Brittany, an area renowned for its bitterly overcast weather, first invented the crepe.
Imagine a slice of Vietnam lifted out of its tiny plastic chair and taken around the world. It picks up a taste for wine and some culinary finesse in Paris, it scours the vintage vinyl stores of Brixton, Kingston and Harlem for its tunes, and kicks back over brunch in a trendy Brooklyn diner. This is how I imagine Propaganda was born.
When most people travel they bring home a T-shirt or a tea towel — I buy a chandelier and a desk!” — David Campbell, January 2015
From the sixth-floor restaurant balcony of Cau Go Vietnamese Cuisine you can neither hear the stabbing horn section and bub-a-bub beat of a million rumbling motorbikes, nor the roosters playing their wailing call-and-response with the cats in heat.
I almost walk past the street-level entrance to Rom BBQ, a Vietnamese rooftop cook-it-yourself joint close to Ben Thanh Market, perched on what could be one of District 1’s prime urban mountaintops. At seven floors up it’s more of a hillock, but bear with me.
Cyprien Pierlovisi loves his food. He was toiling away in French kitchens from the age of 15, before he moved to a London pub and worked behind the bar. This was followed by stints opening successful restaurants and wine bars across Europe.
The dining in the dark concept has hit Saigon hard recently, with two new theme restaurants opening since September (Blackout is the other, at 74/7D Hai Ba Trung, Q1, HCMC, sharing space with La Camargue).