A Sunday in Saigon: Bubble tea, banh mi and beer

Behind the bar at Hoa Vien Brauhaus

A Saigon cafe with a French vibe (inside and out!)

Look who’s serving Banh Mi (hehe!)

My latest Saigon food obsession is Banh Mi Bistro (yes, it’s a sandwich shop!) at 76 Vo Thi Sau, District 1. Their chicken sandwich is the best – shredded, barbeque chicken mixed with some kind of delicious seasoned mayo (maybe it’s msg that makes it so savoury and tasty?) and lettuce – simple but moreish. I also tried their mint bubble tea, like a dessert in a glass. It was basically a mint flavoured milkshake with ice, tapioca pearls (the ‘bubble’ bit), little cubes of colourful jelly and some grated coconut (but no tea!) – surprisingly refreshing and not as sickly as it sounds.

Then, it was onto Le Petit Cafe to check it out. It’s quite a hidden little spot down an alley off Dien Bien Phu (D1), but well signposted at either entrance to the street. Here, it was time for another cool drink – this time a tamarind juice with plenty of ice and topped with peanuts. A perfect blend of sweet and salty – yum! Le Petit Cafe has a grungy European vibe, dark inside with wrought iron tables and chairs, a chandelier, musical instruments propped against the wall, a bar, smoking patrons and a cat. Upstairs – a cozy room full of young, hip Vietnamese people lounging on cushions, and above that, a roof terrace.
After an aimless wander in the heat we came across an oasis in the form of Hoa Vien Brauhaus, a Czech brewery that’s so impressive, I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to go! There’s an amazing wooden bar with copper vats, with a light lager and two types of dark available. There’s a menu of delicious sounding grilled meats and seafood (like wasabi grilled prawns), and Vietnamese dishes too. The light lager was so good (and great value – less than $2 for half a litre!) – and I thought I’d gone off beer…

9 Responses

  1. A Lady's Life March 27, 2009 / 10:48 pm

    You are having an exciting life. This is like a dream come true visiting Asia. It is so different from anything I’ve seen.
    Be careful and enjoy!
    (A ladys life)

  2. jen laceda April 1, 2009 / 2:55 pm

    Wow!! Love Bahn Mis and bubble teas!

    By the way, there’s a 5th sense taste “discovered” (I think by the Japanese). It’s called “umame”or savoury and the taste element is MSG (gasp!).

    P.S. in case you are interested, I’m giving away a prize package at my blog, Liz!

    Jen at Folie a Deux

  3. A Girl in Asia April 2, 2009 / 1:08 am

    Hi Jen – yes I saw and I’m going to enter for sure!! Which reminds me I need to update my subscription to your new url..

  4. henno April 2, 2009 / 9:52 am

    I ate at the infamous Banh Mi Bistro today. Had one of their flagship “dishes”: The…wait for it…”Bistro Bread Bowl”. Yes, it’s beef stew (bo kho)served in a bowl made of bread. Not bad actually.

  5. Franziska April 5, 2009 / 12:26 pm

    So glad that I found your Blog.
    Thanks for all the advices!
    I will move to HMC end of May from Hong Kong.

    Will try some of the cafe’s for sure (Agalico looks fantasic).


    Warm Regards

  6. A Girl in Asia April 5, 2009 / 12:35 pm

    Henno – the bread bowl sounds intriguing, might have to try it next time!

    Franziska – I love the name of your blog :-). Glad you found a few useful tips on mine!

  7. Anonymous May 14, 2009 / 3:55 pm

    Banh Mi Bistro has a nice large store in the Sky Garden shop row of Phu My Hung. This is their original store for those of you who live there or want to wander around the nice Phu My Hung town on the weekend. I love their croissants and banana cake!

  8. Anonymous May 31, 2009 / 6:57 am

    I love Banh Mi Bistro! In addition to their banh mi, their hot dogs are surprisingly very delicious! If you crave western food, definitely try their hot dogs. The bun they place the hot dog in is like a baguette bun, very interesting.

  9. Van August 27, 2010 / 4:57 pm

    Thanks for blogging about some of these cafes. I’m an avid cafe stalker (from Melbourne) who will be spending 3 months in HCMC at the end of this year. I’m going to visit all of these cafes! Cheers!

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