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.
Upon discovering I’d be reviewing a New York-style Italian restaurant, images of the rambunctious dining scenes from Martin Scorsese’s iconic 1990 mafia flick Goodfellas instantly came to mind.
Seafood restaurants are a dime a dozen in Vietnam, enjoyed daily from north to south. Yet, on a cool Monday evening in deepest, darkest District 7, idle staff at Nha Hang Ca Bien Saigon Moi out-number customers two-to-one. No one’s here, reducing the atmosphere to a damp squib.
New restaurants seem to be a dime a baker’s dozen these days. We sift through the contenders for gastronomic supremacy and separate the good apples from the bad. Words by Nick Ross
Zest Bistro & Café (5 Ton Duc Thang, Q1) has opened its doors, offering affordable and quality French-inflected western comfort food. Located inside the Ton Duc Thang Museum, opposite Saigon River, Zest is open daily from 6.30am to 10pm.