Anyone who has visited Thao Dien knows about Dolphy Thao Dien. It sits right on the corner of two central streets, bright blue and open to the traffic, catering to a steady stream of District 2 coffee lovers from first light to late evening. Dolphy Thao Dien is a Saigon favourite.

If there is one street dish that is well-and-truly Vietnamese, it’s banh cuon or steamed rice paper rolls.

Lubu

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Lubu

This beautifully appointed restaurant in the heart of Thao Dien proves that Mediterranean cuisine can be done well in Saigon.

Never judge a café by its entrance; Café Chelsea isn’t what you would expect to see entering an old compound of souvenir shops just behind Ben Thanh Market. The path leading to the café is an alley with stores selling sunglasses and nail salons left and right.

In a city whose culinary landscape seems to change with every new moon, Com Chay Nang Tam has been a bastion of consistency for over two decades. With a 100% vegetarian menu, Nang Tam owes its success to producing food so good, even omnivores can’t stay away.

Coffee is a big deal in Hanoi. Everyone who has lived here will tell you that you haven’t lived until you’ve tried the famous egg coffee or the ca phe sua da. Being more of a tea aficionado, I’ve been looking for a place where my preferred hot drink is the main event, and Rewind Teahouse is the British-inspired imported tea room which fits the bill.

French cuisine just off Giang Vo. The location seems incongruous, but as our mystery diner discovers, the food and service is anything but. Photos by Julie Vola

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