First venue on our 2nd (on the blogging record) date was Vino – a cute little wine shop with a bar situated in The Refinery, the former opium den turned eating and drinking enclave accessed through a French colonial archway on Hai Ba Trung. A few glasses of a Shiraz Voignier in the leafy, tiny front courtyard and the evening was off to a great start. Vino is so low-key and gorgeous I think it’s my new favourite (I know, it changes all the time – I can be fickle like that!).
For dinner, we headed to new restaurant Gia Dining Room. A relatively small, contemporary bedecked space, Gia Dining Room serves up modern Vietnamese fare and French-influenced dishes with some great seafood and delicious duck with fresh green peppercorns (mmm…). Despite it being a Saturday night the restaurant was strangely devoid of customers. By the end of our meal we were actually the only people left in the room. Either Saigonites eat really early or the word just isn’t really out yet about how great this little place is (despite a review being featured in AsiaLIFE HCMC recently). Anyway – Gia Dining Room is well worth a visit if you happen to be in Saigon (and it’s great value for money – fine dining at a modest price!). Sold yet?! Wow, I should be on commission or something!
Moving on… time to sample some Saigon nightlife at Cage, a club and live music venue decorated with (you guessed it) elaborate bird cages with chandeliers inside. We had a few drinks but I think it was a little early or an off night as no-one had braved the dancefloor by the time we left. The funniest thing about Cage is the namebadges the staff wear, which flash ”Hello” in neon. So Saigon!
Romance factor: 9/10 (intimate Vino, chic Gia Dining Room and fun(ny) Cage were the perfect dateworthy combo)
Food factor: 8/10 (delicious baked scallops in a delicate cream sauce were a highlight, and our steak and duck mains were amazing. Points lost as nothing very unique or enticing on the dessert menu!)
Fun Factor: 9/10 (an overall great date and a reminder of Saigon’s stylish side – it does have one, promise!)