A miniature artery from District 1 to District 5, Pham Viet Chanh is one of Saigon’s most hectic streets. Motorbikes scream down this road, cars make no apologies, local businesses line one side, a rather alarming hospital sits back from the tarmac, and in the middle of it all is a little slice of quiet, polite delicacy — 1985 Cafe.
Stacked above Maison Marou Chocolate, Café-Restaurant occupies a sought-after location in a French colonial building on Calmette. With a spectacular view over Ben Thanh Market and the northwestern part of District 1, the building has been carefully restored and preserved. It’s a combination of old architecture and contemporary décor, with traditional tiles interleaved with a modern resin floor, oak furniture with blue cushions, large windows and classic hanging lamps.
The heat in Ho Chi Minh City can often feel oppressive, so visiting a bar to escape it all while being accompanied by that most refreshing of drinks — the gin and tonic — sounds like a great fit. The Gin House is the first bar in the city to specialise in the spirit and has been opening its doors to a wide array of gin-based drinks and cocktails since August 2016.
Ke Quan fills a niche in Tay Ho, where street food abounds, but quality, affordable Vietnamese fare with style is missing. A joint project between Cesar Aubry of Le Soleil, Bui Thi Dong Thanh, or Te, of Ray Quan, and designer Ha Huu Tam, the place is as diverse as its ownership.
On a quiet Hanoian street in an unassuming green restaurant, Giang Nguyen surveys her little diner from behind the serving hatch. She is the type of restaurant owner who loses sleep if a customer is less than satisfied. At May Taste (18C, Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho), however, this rarely happens.