Saturday, June 09, 2007

Saigon Liveableness

Not quite the Big Mac Index, but it used to be (when dinosaurs had yet to be knocked cold by a random meteorite) that the availability of Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Korean cuisine in a (Western) country not their own signalled some degree of urban sophistication of the host city.

Nowadays, post-takeout, post-fast-food era, it is the prevalence of cute little indie eateries and New Yorker ADHD-ness that red-flag the liveableness of a city to the Luxe Guide set.

Pachada at PacharanArab Kebab, HCMC
One way to spend an evening in Ho Chi Minh City (whose very name screams for a Wallpaper* makeover), is to pop into Pacharan for bowls of pachada before downing microbrew pints at Hoa Vien Brauhaus, scoffing lamb kebab tucker slathered with garlic sauce at Arab Kebab, loading up on DVDs along Huynh Thuc Khang, grabbing ice-cream at Fanny's or Kem Bach Dang or fresh popcorn from Cafe Central, and settling in for the latenight screening of this season's blockbusters.
Kem Bach DangA3

(Detoxing types, who ought to have gone out with the preppy look in the early part of this millennium, might do pretzels becalm themselves at Saigon Yoga for some ashtanga or pilates work, grab rabbit food at Juice, then soak in a bubble bath, learning Vietnamese from a CD.)

Swing Wednesdays and Salsa Thurdays, muffins and giggling Japanese expats at La Fenêtre Soleil. Afterwards, a quick messy-haired moto away, sequestered in a little enclave off Mac Thi Buoi, there might be dinner and shisha amidst pan-arabian fantasy tiles, beads and mirrors at Warda or a lounge-about Thai-style up the tight spiral staircase at Lac Thai.

Work Snacks
Other evenings, well, darn it, one has to work! Cos thees ees a work trip, no? So dinner ees palatable French round the corner at La Niçoise, where there are only 5 tables ground-level and the people are friendly and chatty and happily brimming with wine and coffee. Just what is needed before trudging back to more toil.
La Nicoise, HCMC
The story about chatting in French is this:
once upon a time, a long-suffering French teacher had her class take turns practising for their French orals. 2 of her worst students, paired together, had the following conversation:

Student A: Pardon monsieur/madame, parlez-vous anglais?
Student B: Of course!
Student A: Cheh, why never earlier say?
(And an interesting conversation ensues, in English, about the benefits of speaking English.)
Madame (French teachers giving Chinese teachers a run for their melodramatic money)*crying into her sleeve*: Oh woe is me! What ever have I done to deserve such asinine students?

71/7 Mac Thi Buoi
Tel: 824 1374

Lac Thai
71/2 Mac Thi Buoi
Tel: 823 7506

Pacharan Tapas & Bedega
97 Hai Ba Trung
Tel: 822 2372

Hoa Vien Brauhaus
28 Bis Mac Dinh Chi
Tel: 823 1080

Arab Kebab
9B Thai Van Lung
Tel: 827 9867

La Niçoise
42 Ngo Duc Ke
Tel: 822 8613

Asia Life HCMC

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