Based on the concept of rejuvenating discarded objects, two friends have turned shipping container crates and anything else they can find into the latest hang out craze. Words by Ed Weinberg. Photos by Doan Phuong Ha

R.E.D with its red-lit sign adds some life to this relatively uneventful street, noise comfortably falling out of its doors as well as the odd customer after one too many. Recently changing its name from Red Drum (Trong Do), the popular downtown watering hole has renovated its upstairs area to a more diner friendly space. Modern in design without being too sterile, the area upstairs manages to live up to the bar’s name-cum-acronym — relax, eat and drink.

Xu

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Plush and indulgent, Xu’s main currency is escapism. A long bar manned with more than capable mixologists downstairs is an instant draw. But we were here for the food, so we headed upstairs into the soft lighting and intimacy of the dining area. Boasting a well-conceived collaboration between Vietnamese cuisine and overseas cooking styles, and with the likes of Square One and Blanchy’s Tash just a stone’s throw away, our expectations were high.

Going against his dentist’s wishes, James Allen discovers the sweeter things in life, one bite at a time. Photos by Charles Barnes

Fans of broccoli, cauliflower and mixed greens living in Vietnam have a couple of hectares of Dalat farmland and a conscientious American to thank. Douglas Pyper talks to Bob Allen to understand how his family operation in the mountains of Central Vietnam affected the whole country’s eating habits.Photo by Quinn Ryan Mattingly

Bahdja

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Located just beneath Au Lac Saigon Hotel, Bahdja is Saigon’s first ever Algerian restaurant, serving authentic, multi-ethnic Berber North African and Mediterranean cuisine cooked and served in a traditional Algerian style. Best experienced in a group, this small but pleasant restaurant’s soothing ambience is matched by the owners’ genuine hospitality and complimented by an array of tasty tajines and couscous-based dishes. Make sure to try the excellent Moroccan wine, too.

It’s a bit late for the pan-Asia roti bun fad now, but it’s surprising just how many foreigners in town have never tried what is possibly the most delicious bread roll that exists. A counter-intuitive clash of supposedly incompatible flavours (coffee and cheese, of all things) the resulting crispy brioche was moving 20,000 units per bakery at the height of its popularity, and still has the power to tempt casual passers-by based on smell alone — the aroma tempting enough to spur impulse buying even by people who are not in the least bit hungry.

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