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American magazine Travel + Leisure called Thao Dien area in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 2 its “coolest neighborhood” where a series of newly-opened bars and restaurants add vibrancy to the expat hub.
Hidden inside a two-story white villa on a quiet street in Thao Dien, Lua (Fire) Restaurant opened a year ago. It is designed with a touch of French architecture and has outdoor space for guests.
Founded by a Japanese sommelier with 15 years’ experience and a Japanese-Filipino chef, the restaurant serves guests signature dishes like grilled guava (pictured), pickled egg yolk, green salad, blood sausage spring rolls or potato dumplings.
“Meats and cold cuts are cured in house and crusty sourdough is baked on site, while a French-style tomme cheese served with grilled batons of guava is sourced from a producer outside Hanoi,” Travel + Leisure said of the restaurant’s dishes.
Snacks cost from VND150,000 ($6) and sharing plates from VND300,000.
The restaurant is open from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily except Sunday, at 2 Street No. 11, An Phu Ward.
Madam Lam Restaurant recently opened in Thao Dien area, featuring traditional Vietnamese red-tiled roofs, yellow walls and sets of wooden tables.
Award-winning chef Nguyen Nhu Cuong treats guests with traditional Vietnamese dishes like hen xao xuc banh da (chopped clams eaten on rice crackers), ca chem nuong la trau (sea bass served with savory cassava mash), and goi buoi thanh long do (grapefruit salad served in a hollowed-out dragon fruit).
Some signature dishes worth a try include com tam (broken rice with grilled pork tenderloin, shredded pork skin, pork pie), cha gio cua lot (soft-shell crab spring rolls), jelly fish salads and traditional desserts like Vietnamese cassava cake.
Prices range from VND70,000-300,000 per dish.
The biggest highlight of the restaurant is an outdoor bar.
The restaurant at 10 Tran Ngoc Dien Street is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Aalto Restaurant was founded by Jimmy Garside, a Mancunian and longtime Sydneysider chef.
Inside Aalto, the rustic wooden ceiling beams are painted yellow and there are framed abstract drawings and paintings on the wall and Mondrian squares of lighting.
The restaurant serves Mediterranean-style food like grilled octopus (pictured), home made sausage, grilled cabbage and leaf salad with shallots and herbs priced from VND110,000-390,000.
It is located at 38 Tran Ngoc Dien Street.
Sono Grill & Bar has a bar lounge where guests can enjoy music in a cozy space.
“The best seat in the house at Sono is facing the open kitchen that turns out cosmopolitan fare with a Vietnamese twist,” Travel + Leisure said.
A portion of chilled souffle at Sono.
It also serves guests Western dishes including charcoal grilled chicken breast, lemograss Yakitori chicken, chestnut-fed Iberico pork chops and steak betel frites priced from VND289,000.
The bar is located at 215B37 Nguyen Van Huong Street.
ASMR is the latest bar address in Thao Dien which has an open bar lounge.
Travel + Leisure recommended a refreshing long drink of gin balanced by dried jackfruit, pineapple and pandan.
Located at 15 Xuan Thuy Street in Thao Dien Ward, the bar is open from 4 p.m. until 2 a.m.
Olivia Restaurant opened in Thao Dien last month.
One of its biggest highlights is an interior garden and a picture window that frames the kitchen.
It also has an open kitchen separated from the main hall by a clear glass panel, where chefs cook and prepare exquisite dishes.
The restaurant is planted with green trees.
Signature dishes include Amaebi prawns, Wild Vinh Hy lobster mousseline, and Flinders Island lamb.
Located at 31A Le Van Mien Street in Thao Dien Ward, the restaurant is open from Tuesday until Sunday.
This article is written by Hoang Phong for E.VnExpress.netPhotos courtesy of the bars and restaurants