Coffee, SaigonCoffee’s important anywhere, but particularly so in Vietnam. In recent years HIGHLANDS COFFEE raised its hand to become the ‘Vietnam Starbucks,’ with the slickest, Westernest-style locations in the best spots of the city. The best one is across from the Rex Hotel (corner of Le Loi and Nguyen Hue Sts; open 7am to 11pm), atop the refashioned ‘Russian market,’ with three floors and open-air seats.

But! If you’re outrageously serious about coffee – and I am – you’ll go out of your way to get coffee from TRUNG NGUYEN, who have several, slightly less swank, locations across town – but always a little harder to find than Highlands. There are eight beans to choose from – try ‘number eight’ (about 20,000D per cup; US$1.25), ‘weasel’ coffee that’s supposedly picked, eaten and digested by choosey weasels in the highlands.

A few locations to look for:

• Five blocks northwest of the War Remnants Museum (64 Tran Quoc Thao, D3); outdoor seats in front of French villa
• Corner of Ly Tu Trong & Huyen Tran Cong Chua, a block north of Ben Thanh Market; tiny old café, with codgers coming for morning wake-up cups
• Behind Diamond Plaza on Nguyen Van Chiem St, outdoor seats
• Half way to Cho Lon, at the corner of Tran Hung Dao and Nguyen Van Cuu Sts; inside seats on three floors

If you buy beans to make when you get home, making Vietnamese coffee isn’t necessarily as easy as it looks. Check this blog for directions.

Return to RESTAURANTS home