When the clock ticks over to the wrong side of midnight, the culinary options in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City begin to dwindle. But don’t worry about starving: the dark city alleys hide a plethora of choices for the hungry night owl, whether you’re craving a warm plate of banh cuon, creamy vodka penne or a banh mi stuffed with chili-egg goodness. We dug up all our favourite late-night haunts.
As soon as Cu “Owl” Nguyen and her groupie-and-drummer contingent enter the room, she heat-seeks the computer and its limitless song archive. Dismissing the guidebook, she queues up five Pink songs and three Adele songs. David Moses Haimovich of Space Panther had been singing some Kylie, and she perhaps got the wrong idea.
Ladies’ Night at Lush Nightclub is one of the biggest parties in Ho Chi Minh City, and it draws in over a thousand partiers week after week. The dance floor is consistently packed shoulder-to-shoulder, swaying and shifting to soundtracks by some of Vietnam’s biggest DJ names alongside the occasional international superstar. Lush has been one of the most popular nightclubs in the city for nearly a decade, continuously raising the bar in clubbing with every new phase of development.
It’s just past 7pm on Friday night and Quan has just got to Polite Pub after his daytime job at a five-star hotel. Every evening, he’s the manager-cum-bartender at this pub that was opened by his parents in 1995.
Tasked with tapping into the hazy nostalgic memories of 1990s Saigon, it was suggested by one person I spoke to that we voyage on a downtown pilgrimage to see where the bars used to be or still are. Our arms were twisted as we joined the trail.