Beer, Coffee, Food: The Best of Ho Chi Minh City
Sometimes, an expat has to go back to his roots. Back to the things he left behind in his first world country. I always try to embrace the Vietnamese culture, but I needed a little taste of home. Plus, it was my birthday, so why not celebrate it with a few of my favourite things? Beer, coffee, and food. It’s time to find the best of these in Saigon.
The choice for best beer in Saigon was an easy one. The Pasteur Street Brewing Company is Ho Chi Minh City’s first craft microbrewery. Since coming to Vietnam, I’ve been suffering from hop-deprivation. The beers here are all lagers, and most of them taste the same. In Canada, I was spoiled with all the choices of beer. I frequented beer tasting events, and even brewed my own beer. I’m a bit of a beer connoisseur. When my lips tasted PSBC’s Jasmine IPA, I felt whole again, I was reborn -- h-ALE-lujah!
With 6 beers to choose from, you shouldn’t have a problem finding something you like. We ordered a flight -- one 175ml glass of each.
- Passion Fruit Wheat Ale
- Oolong Tea Pale Ale
- Jasmine IPA
- Coffee Brown Ale
- Imperial Chocolate Stout
Where to find it
The brewery and tasting room is located at 144 Pasteur Street. There’s a small sign by an alley. Go down the alley and up the stairs on the left.
The Pasteur Street Brewing Company is owned and operated by some American brewers from Colorado. They opened their doors in early 2015. Their Facebook page has some great info and provides a bit of a timeline of their rise.
I must also mention their food. I had a corned beef sandwich that was to die for. Everything was homemade including the potato chips that came on the side. The chef delivered the food, and later came back to check to see if everything was alright/be basted in compliments. Also, I must apologize to the Vietnamese bartender who, in between bites, I told, “I haven’t had a good sandwich in so long”. That’s an insult to banh mi. In my defense, I was in some sort of food trance.
175ml glasses of Passion Fruit Wheat Ale, Saison, Oolong Teas Pale Ale, Jasmine IPA, and Coffee Brown Ale: 40,000 dong each
175ml glass of Imperial Chocolate Stout (10% ABV): 60,000 dong
Large glasses: 95,000 each
Large glass of Imperial Chocolate Stout: 125,000 dong
Corned beef Sandwich: 135,000 dong
A delicious cup of coffee isn’t hard to find in Vietnam. We decided to go for atmosphere over taste. Not that the coffee we had tasted bad, but I can’t honestly claim that Saigon Skydeck Coffee has the best coffee in the city, but I can honestly say that it has the best views.
Where to find it
The Bitexco Financial Tower is that huge skyscraper that looks like it has a circular diving board coming out from it. It’s the tallest building in Ho Chi Minh City. The exact address is 2 Hải Triều. Saigon Skydeck Coffee is on the 50th floor.
The views are amazing. The city seems to go forever. Have a bit of a walk around the cafe to see various sides of Saigon.
For one cup of Vietnamese iced coffee with condensed milk it was 120,000 dong. On floor zero that same cup of coffee would have cost about 10 times less, but considering the cost to go to the Skydeck (which is one floor lower) is 200,000 dong, it’s like we saved 80,000 and got a free cup of coffee.
We watched the sunset and sipped the sweet delicious drink.
Sara wouldn’t tell me where we were going for dinner. All I knew was that I’d get to eat delicious meat. That’s all I really needed to know to walk the 30 minutes to Au Lac Do Brazil, Saigon’s first true churrascaria restaurant. If you’re unfamiliar with churrascaria, let me enlighten you. It’s a Brazilian thing. You sit at a table and waiters come around with giant metal sticks that have various cuts of meat on them. If you want some, they shave some pieces off for you. You eat it. You love it. You get more. You keep eating. You feel like you’re going to die. You stop eating. It’s pretty simple.
Where to find it
238 Pasteur, District 3. It’s about a 25 minute walk up Pasteur from the brewery.
We ate a lot. Ribs, chicken wings, lamb leg, beef top round, beef kabobs, ham with pineapple, beef tenderloin, pork sausage, shrimp wrapped in bacon… I’m sure there’s more, but the three hour meat coma that I went into when we were done has caused memory loss. The meat is top-notch — imported from a faraway land (probably Australia). It was all cooked to medium-rare perfection. The staff was friendly. The side dishes (salad, roasted corn, some sort of mushroom mixture) were all very tasty. The red wine, Chilean I believe, was very good. The passion fruit mousse for dessert was the perfect sweet end to an amazing meal.
The bill came to 1,957,725 dong (about $90 USD). The two all you can eat meals were 650,000 dong each. The 2 glasses of wine were 135,000 dong each. The pitcher of water was 270,000 dong. It’s a pricey go, but I don’t regret it… Mainly because it was my birthday and Sara paid for it. Best birthday feast ever. Best birthday day ever.