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Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Dining in Ho Chi Minh

As the locals do, I also prefer to call this city Saigon. This is where we finished our journey.
Outside the hustle of the city away from masses of motorbikes we ventured to an organic farm, for our last cooking class.
A day on the Farm
It can't get any fresher than this

Attention in class

In the evening we dined in a very different venue.  The beautiful elegant Ly Club where you are amazingly also secluded from the masses of motorbikes and frenetic energy of the city
Saigon has become quite sophisticated and competes with other major Asian cities for some fabulous dining experiences.
I was appalled when meeting friends of one of my guests on the tour that they had dined at the American steak house near the hotel. They weren't sure where to go, so chose the easy option.
I soon put them straight and gave them a list of my favourite restaurants as a must do.
It is often the case when travelling, that one can end up in some terrible tourist trap, after hours of wandering around looking for somewhere to eat. Hotels, sightseeing and shopping are all organised and to me one of the most important experiences is forgotten.
 Mostly from laziness or on overload from organising the rest of the trip.
This oversight can ruin many dining experiences, both time wise and financially and taint your view of a city or country.
Make the time to check the dining scene wherever you go. You will be rewarded well for doing your homework.
My favourite restaurants in Saigon

Cuc Gach Quan

This gorgeous little casual restaurant is set in suburbia. You would never stumble across it walking around. It is colonial style, a purpose built restaurant designed to feel like a private home. The food is exceptionally good, the environment very stylish and the wine list surprisingly good. Vietnamese home cooking at its best served in a dining, living room space of timber and steel decorated with fabulous recycled items and interesting art work.
Inexpensive and a favourite of Brad and Angelina.

Com Nieu

Broken Rice literally the meaning of the name. Rice is served in a clay pot which is smashed at serving time, as a gimmick, but entertaining none the less. Braised pots of beautiful ribs and delicious seafood dishes all help to make this local restaurant a great dining spot. It is in District 3 about a 20 minute taxi ride out of the main area of District 1. Again not one you would stumble across and not one to miss.

Nam Pham

A beautiful restaurant in  renovated 4 story colonial villa. The decor is superb with marble floors, stone walls and polished wooden furniture all candle lit to provide an intimate atmosphere.
Asian fusion food brings it into the modern dining scene. The menu and wine list are extensive.
A little more expensive than some but worth it.
Another restaurant by the same group is Cham Charm. Banquet style food in a charming gallery setting.

Ly Club

Set in a neo French colonial garden setting, this restaurant is a sheer delight. The menu has a western influence, using local ingredients and spices. The presentation of the food is delightful.
Wines are a little expensive, but this is an upscale restaurant. The ambience of the garden with shimmering pools, bars and mood lighting adds to the glamour of the evening.

Off to India on the week end, so excited........ Stay tuned