Why isn’t there more good Vietnamese cuisine found outside of Vietnam ? It’s so similar to the ubiquitous Thai but it is full of fresh herbs and uses a lot less sugar which surely must be better for you… ?
I digress from my rant to say that I was lucky enough to go to Ho Chi Minh City on a work trip where I managed to squeeze in some local food not served in a high-end restaurant and/or hotel. Certainly not enough, but enough to satisfy my love of pho for a while, anyway.
We stayed at the Sheraton, which is smack bang in the tourist area of what is a relatively small city where on the 23rd floor there is a rooftop bar which boasts the “best view of the city” according to the Lonely Planet Guide.
Being on a work trip, we basically ate at and around the hotel, which wasn’t bad, for sure, but the surroundings were so high end that it lacked a lot of authenticity that I like to experience when I am travelling to new places.
During one of the activity sessions we had to scour the Ben Thanh market for trinkets and while my teammates were furiously trying to get the best deal in the shortest amount of time, I got to stare longingly at the little noodle stalls surrounding us where locals slurped.
We did get to eat at what isn’t authentically Vietnamese, but at strikingly beautiful Cham Charm, in District 7. A restaurant/gallery devoted to Champa ancient arts and culture, you dine buffet style surrounded by Champa artifacts and sculptural works, in a chilled ambiance, with perfect mood lighting and music piped throughout.
The dessert station at Cham Charm
The cuisine is what they call “world cuisine”, what I would call Asian cuisine, as they serve a vast variety of specialty dishes from India, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Japan at different stations around the large restaurant. There seemed to be a new section that someone from our group discovered each time they looked. Food-wise, I wouldn’t say that it was bad, it’s just that it wasn’t great. After eating at the likes of the Raffles Bar & Billiard Room Sunday buffet, my standards are pretty high, but for first impressions, the 30 minute ride out of the main part of Ho Chi Minh is worth it.
02 Phan Van Chuong, Dist. 7
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
PHONE: (84-8) 5410 9999