As promised (or at least vaguely conjured up) earlier, here’s the first in what could be a mini-series of ‘date nights’ in Saigon. Before you get all excited and think it’s some kind of Sex in the City-like analysis of Saigon’s single scene, said date and future dates are with my lovely husband!
So, first date on the record was not so planned in terms of venues – it was more of an on a whim, ”where shall we go next?” kind of thing. First up, we went to Middle Eastern bar and restaurant Warda for some drinks and mezze. The ground floor was busy but not too much so, and we were able to get a bench seat near the bar. Our shared mezze (dips, breads, olives, feta, tabouli…) was huge for a supposed pre-dinner snack and the cocktails (rose martini, favourite) went down well. Warda proved a fun place for people watching – the other patrons in the bar area were all Vietnamese, including a group of giggling 20-something girls in suits trying a shisha pipe for maybe the first time, and a businessman with his glamazon, modelesque girlfriend draped all over him. Don’t you just love people watching?!
Next, it was onto dinner at K Cafe, a Japanese restaurant with a not very Japanese-sounding name, but nonetheless a long running and popular spot. There are always lots of Japanese people there – an excellent sign! We decided to sit at the sushi bar (I have a thing about sitting at sushi bars) to see the chefs in action, and ordered beers and lots of dishes to share including spicy tuna rolls, soft shell crabs, scallop gyozas and salmon sashimi. A guy who was acting like the owner was sitting nearby and tried to insist we have dessert (“it’s free!”) but after a huge Middle Eastern spread then dinner we’d had enough.
But there was still room for more drinks! Next door to K Cafe is a bar called O’Brien’s, which for some reason neither of us had ever been to. We decided to check it out and found a small, cosy, exposed brick wall pub with a sports bar meets dive bar vibe. The air was a little smoky, the music very 90s and the crowd a mixed bag of young guys ordering burgers, old guys wearing shorts and t-shirts (so un-Saigon!) and generic people sitting at the bar. Not really my thing. Kind of boring. But we stayed for a drink anyway and it turned out to be a fun place to sit and talk – really unpretentious. And speaking of unpretentious I really should have ordered beer as they make the worst martini ever!
So…how did the date fare?
Romance factor: 6/10 (points deducted for non-dateworthy O’Brien’s)
Food factor: 8.5/10 (K Cafe has fantastic sashimi and I highly recommend the scallop gyozas. Actually pretty much everything we’ve ever tried there has been great)
Fun factor: 8/10 (definitely more of a casual night but lots of fun, conducive to good eats and good chats – even at O’Briens)