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Posts Tagged ‘Saigon cafes’

Time passes by so fast; we are back again in Saigon.

Before I found my flat which is just a block away from my office in District 1, I took up residence first for more than a week in a little hotel along Pham Ngu Lao Road, which is in the heart of the backpacker area in Saigon. I thought I would be bored to death again in that area, because if you’re not the type to drink yourself to death in the late evenings or are into shopping, you wouldn’t enjoy the hustle and bustle of the backpacker area.

Aside from showing up at the office nonetheless, I managed to spend my mornings at breakfast eating a banh mi, a baguette with slivers of pork meat or canned sardines, veggies, a little pate and a chile or two. That Vietnamese sandwich was enough to keep you going for 3 hours until lunch time.

But the best thing I liked doing at Bui Vien, a street behind Pham Ngu Lao and parallel to it, was sitting in one of those roadside cafes, and drinking their traditional iced-cold coffee with milk called “café suda”, or “café su nom” which is the hot version of it.

Normally, the type of coffee that you mix with café suda is rather bitter — and the condensed milk that they mix with it actually balances the bitter taste. But with café su nom, you drink the coffee filtered through a steel filter with the brew being catched from below in a cup.

And while you’re waiting for your coffee brew to be filtered, you look at the street and see the passing of motorists, tourists and the ordinary hectic day-to-day life in not just the backpacker area of Saigon but everywhere in the city. 

Sitting at a roadside cafe in the Pham Ngu Lao area. Simply bliss!

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My favorite Saturday afternoon cafe - Le Creperie in District 1

Continuing my blog entry last time, one of my typical Saturday afternoons in Saigon is to sit at a favorite café in District 1, with my handy laptop and tow, and blog the whole afternoon. It’s called Le Creperie on 15 Hanh Thuyen St. What is so great about this place is that it overlooks this small park with towering leafy green trees that provides the needed oxygen for city folks like us. It kinda gives you a bit of a countryside feel, even though the sound of motorbikes is not too distant away.

The staff are friendly at Le Creperie. Dishes are French-influenced. I recommend the Crepe Florentine with mushrooms and spinach lightly steeped in olive oil. Only a few doors away from Le Creperie is Au Pain, also a French-style/Mediterranean restaurant with a predominantly farang (Thai word for “foreigner”) clientele.

The charming lady owner is as charming as her restaurant. Although the dishes are tailored more for foreigners’ taste (the spaghetti with anchovies is not as hot nor salty as I had expected but more with a sour taste) and the meat dishes lack the proverbial spices that I knew Mediterranean food would at least have, the ambiance is definitely cozy and well-worth a leisurely meeting with your friends on a sultry Saturday afternoon.

Furnishings remind you of a Moroccan haveli with drapes looking like they’re floating on the ceiling and very comfy and colorful divans with patchwork cushions. A must visit!

The green and peaceful park beside Hanh Thuyen Street overlooking a row of restaurants.

Motorbikes and lover in the park in front of Le Creperie

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Basilico at The Intercon

Basilico's interior furnishings is made of light wood which gives a very "airy", warm feeling. Note the nice overhead chandelier.

One quiet but sultry Sunday morning in Saigon, I decided to go walking around District 1, the central and business district of the city of Saigon. Well – partially walking though ; )

Café Lounging. It was such a hot day, I remember. I think I decided against walking all the way from my humble abode in District 1 to check out again a new café that my colleague had introduced to me one weekend. It was called Basilico, a new coffee place on the corner of the new Intercontinental Hotel on Hai Ba Trung street.

Decided to take a cab there instead, and when I alighted from the cab at the side entrance of the hotel, I accidentally stepped on my pants leg with my sandal and ripped the seam of my pants leg. Zounds! So much for alighting with panache and flair at the entrance.

Anyway, having looked around that someone didn’t see the little mishap except for the bellboy, I got into the entrance and positioned myself against one of the floor-to-ceiling glass windows of Basilico.

The food was largely Italian with oven-fired pizzas and a fairly good array of coffees to choose from. It’s a great place to lounge around on a Saturday afternoon with your friends — your intellectual friends — so you can lazily deliberate on the future economy and your future ex-boyfriends – har har har!

Basilico - At the patio

Basilico's patio overlooking the side street.

 

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