Park yourself at an outside table, drink your draught, pet the dog, and admire the moto-memorabilia; perch yourself on a stool near their cozy stage, while you enjoy your passionfruit mojito; or climb up further and unwind in the soft yellow lighting, while you take in the tunes, have a chat, and enjoy the chilled atmosphere.
I’d invited a handful of friends to come with me on a Friday night, and we were happily surprised to have bumped into even more Saigonites, all who were there for Moto’s weekly Open Mic night. Lounging, scattered throughout the intimate, homey, three-floor setup were beloved members of Saigon’s music scene, along with some poets (both local and expat), and even an American comedian. During our stay I didn’t have much of a chance to speak with one of the owners, Dan, as he was instead permeating the shop-house style bar with the smooth sound of his voice and musical talents. (I happily stuck to emailing him to iron out the details; much more worth my time to hear him belt out Queens of the Stone Age, while I gratefully sipped my VND50,000 glass of wine.)
But here’s what I discovered. Thursdays are still for karaoke. Fridays, as mentioned, are a free for all. They’ve got a ukulele, bass, cajón, two guitars, mics, and a PA system at your disposal. On Saturdays they have a penchant for the live stuff — subject to band bookings. And what would a biker bar be without biker outings? They organise Sunday bike trips out of the city. At the time of writing, the next one planned was for Can Gio Bio Reserve.
In the Works
After I situated myself upstairs to better scope out the stage, I began sampling the Mexican street food-inspired menu. The homemade hot sauce is killer — no lie, I want to coax them into selling me a bottle. The lowdown is that one of the business partners, Danh, is from Southern California. Lucky for us, Danh missed all the Mexican food back in Baja. He couldn't find it here, so he had to make it himself: street corn, bacon wrapped hotdogs, tacos, burritos and salsa. Plus, there’s American comfort food. Screw making me a takeaway hot sauce, I’m moving in. There’s a chaise longue upstairs. I’m golden.
Dan told me that the bar will soon have custom parts on display and for sale. “It will be easy for people to come have a drink and customise their bike at the same time,” he explained. Sounds like a win-win.
Also, if you’re familiar with his old place, you know you used to be able to rent that baby out for the night. Soon, Dan says, this new location will be open for hire, too.
But how do you get there? You know that gigantic District 7 Lottemart on Nguyen Thi Thap? Right. Scoot down NTT with the Lotte on your left, and turn left on Duong 38. This will turn into Duong So 10. But have no fear, you’re nearly there. Make one last left on Duong So 23 and follow it down to the end. Voila! Vespa paraphernalia, acoustic jams, cheap cold drinks and all that Mexican street food awaits you. — Sandee Woodside
Moto-Saigon is at 88 Duong So 23, Q7, HCMC or online at facebook.com/moto.saigon