RESTAURANTS - Around Dong Khoi

Package tourists and first-time visitors cling to Dong Khoi or its parallel partner Hai Ba Trung St (just east), and – I cannot be subtle – I’d rather eat elsewhere. You can do better in just a few blocks away. Here are a few places nearby, however, and a few within footstep distance.


If you have the bucks, you can’t really beat the Park Hyatt’s Square One – with five open kitchens and iron-carved lattice nook-dividers in a sprawling stylish restaurant up the stairs from the lobby. The menu splits the difference between Vietnam (noodle lunches are about $8) and Western favorites (Australian or New Zealand steaks are $18 to $20). It’s behind the Opera House, between Hai Ba Trung and Dong Khoi Sts.
Tel 08-824-1234; Park Hyatt Saigon, 2 Lam Son Square; open noon to 2.30pm, 6 to 10.30pm

PHO 24
A central location of the super local chain serving namesake beef noodle soup (24,000D; US$1.50) in a comfy, mod environment.
Tel 08-822-3485; 67 Hai Ba Trung St, between Le Loi & Dong Du Sts

If you just want something – cheap and quick, dammit! – there’s a couple simple air-conditioned restaurants on Ngo Duc Ke, just east of Dong Khoi, like the #13. Good food from 30,000D (US$1.90).
15 Ngo Duc Ke


For a burger lunch with a view, it’s hard to beat SAIGON SAIGON bar on the Caravelle Hotel roof.

Fun little everthing-goes restaurant, with friendly staff, lamb fajitas (180,000D; US$11.20), soft tacos (160,000D; US$10), ‘Peking duck’ rolls (80,000D; US$5), green papaya salads with Australian steak (80,000D; US$5), and pastas.
Tel 08-822-9925; 33 Dong Khoi St, at Ngo Duc Ke St, D1; mains from 125,000D (US$7.90); open 8.30am to midnight

Down an alley, just off Dong Khoi St, this cozy Thai place serves relaxed meals on three levels – best is the brick-wall dining room up one floor.
Tel 08-823-7506; 71/2 Mac Thi Buoi St; curries 60,000 to 90,000D (US$3.75 to US$5.65)

Even if you can’t afford the elegant rooms, the huge Sunday brunch at the Park Hyatt includes seafood on ice, pizzas, baked goods and plenty of sweets in the appealing inside/outside lobby restaurant in the Park Hyatt (11.30am to 2.30pm). During the week, there’s always the $16 breakfast buffet.
Tel 824-1234, Park Hyatt, 2 Lam Son Square Q1

Behind the Saigon Mosque, this simple open-air place with concrete floors and big lunch deals is popular with local Muslems. Food’s fresh and good, and open for all. Pick-and-point squid, fish or lamb curries (35,000 to 45,000D; US$2.20 to US$2.80) or bean, okra or other veggie dishes (10,000D; US$0.65).
Tel 08-823-2159; 66 Dong Du St; open 10am to 8pm

NAM PHAN (tel 08-829-2757; 64 Le Thanh Ton St at Hai Ba Trung) looks great – in and out of a restored French villa surrounded by a garden and illuminated moat. The catch is the service (quarter-hearted) and the food (OK, but way overpriced) – unremarkable US$1.50-style cha gia (fried egg rolls) are 80,000D (US$5) for example. Skip it.

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