Three Restaurants in 24 hours in Ho Chi Minh City

We only had a weekend in Ho Chi Minh city, so this is of course rather limited, but we’re looking forward to going back as there seem to be a lot of great restaurants and a much stronger ‘eating out’ culture amongst expats and Vietnamese. Everywhere felt bustling, whereas in Hanoi upmarket restaurants are frequently rather disappointingly empty. It is really all about the street food in Hanoi!

Saturday Brunch at L’Usine, 151/1 Dong Khoi Street, 1st floor, District 1

After wandering down an old arcade filled with cluttered art work of varying quality, one climbs a rather grimy staircase up to a fabulous space dating from the late 1800s now with a funky art deco factory feel and lots of natural light. There is a gallery, a boutique, and a superb cafe that serves classic brunch dishes as well as a range of sandwiches and apparently delicious cupcakes. Certainly, the cappuccino was delicious and the eggs benedict some of the best I have ever had. My small nibble of a neighbouring pancake was also yummy!

Saturday supper at Cuc Gach Quan10 Dang Tat, Ward Tan Dinh, District 1

We had a delicious supper that evening at Cuc Gach Quan which is essentially a French colonial period house, remodeled by a Vietnamese architect which serves traditional countryside food with a big emphasis on seasonal vegetables. The house was a wonderful eclectic mixture of antique furniture dotted about in a higgledy piggledy manner with no two tables having the same feeling. One table is even in a bed! Steep stairs take you up past the pond in the centre of the house to an exposed roof tile attic room. The menu is rather overwhelming with pages and pages of vegetables with minimal translations followed by the meat and fish dishes. Despite a rather haphazard approach we ended up sharing a great selection including: pumpkin shoots, morning glory, bamboo, deep fried tofu (which was meltingly soft inside), mushrooms in clay pot (I had never had mushrooms in a liquid which wasn’t creamy), squid in tamarind, and the classic pork belly in clay pot which was beautifully tender.

Sunday lunch at Les Trois Gourmands, 18 Tong Huu Dinh Street, Thao Dien Ward, D2

Finally for our last meal with our visiting friends, we went for a long, slow lunch at Les Trois Gourmands, owned by a slightly eccentric, moustachioed French chef called Gils. Old school French degustation menu is the order of the day. One chooses a starter and a main from a surprisingly long list and then this is supplemented with two amuse-bouches, lots of cheese, and a pudding. So, for me lunch was a sesame sorbet; scallops on truffled mash; creamy scrambled eggs (with more truffle); beef cheeks and foie gras; smelly, strong cheese galore and finally a crème brûlée with vanilla from the restauranteur’s own plantation. Husband had Vietnamese venison from Dalat, which was good as anything you’d find in the Highlands. Great wine list too: we enjoyed a Viognier from the Languedoc and then a lovely bottle of 2006 Connétable de Talbot. We’ll be back…