Photo by Vu Ha Kim Vy

Tucked away close to the East-West Highway sits a beautifully pristine French colonial facade, patiently waiting to be discovered. Inside, the restaurant is a fusion of east and west, with strategic mirrors that add light and space to the room, and beautiful ceramic tiles on the floor. Even the bathrooms create a luxurious experience with their long mirrors and elegant sinks.

 

The environment is spacious and intimate, perfect for a business lunch, a dinner date, or even just to enjoy some drinks with friends. The bar at the centre of the first floor promises a treat for any palate with all of the house cocktails priced at VND120,000. The bar staff are Diageo world-class trained bartenders ready to whip up any of the house specials, or your favourite classics.

 

According to Thuy Duong, managing partner, the house favourite is the lychee chilli tini, served simply with one red chilli on the rim but perfectly spicy and almost too easy to drink.

Photo by Vu Ha Kim Vy

Photo by Vu Ha Kim Vy 

Spice of Life

 

The holy grail cocktail is a religious experience. Served with fresh ginger and sprigs of mint, it teases the taste buds to a tug of war between tart, sweet and a hint of spice; the elderflower flavours combined with the bourbon and orange offer an almost dangerous refreshment. A personal favourite is the house whisky sour, presented with a fantastic slice of burnt orange and made with freshly whipped egg whites. The sour does what the name describes, but also packs in the crisp flavours of orange.

 

Though Saigon Lookout has been established on Ky Con since February 2015, they have recently undergone a dining rebranding, from their Vietnamese fusion kitchen to a simple steak frites concept. In fact, the only item on the menu is 200 grams of Australian ribeye, served with house béarnaise sauce, unlimited French fries, salad, and a bread roll.

 

Order your steak a little more rare than you would tend to, as it is served above a tea light candle upon a silver platter to keep the meat warm throughout your meal, and gives the entire setting an elegant atmosphere. Don’t be shy about taking advantage of the unlimited Parmesan fries, brought over to your table in an equally elegant bucket.

 

What makes the dining room at Saigon Lookout special is that you can get all of that for only VND350,000 at dinner and VND275,000 as the lunch special, which also includes a dessert.

 

“I love to eat steak, but I don’t want to spend VND4 million every time I go out,” jokes Olaf Muller, one of the partners at Saigon Lookout. “What we’re doing here is making the steak experience more humble for our clients.”

Photo by Sian Kavanagh

Photo by Sian Kanavagh 

Two Pairs

 

The steak frites are obviously served best with a bottle or glass of red wine, to complement the tender red meat as opposed to overpowering it. At Saigon Lookout you can order without breaking the bank, with the Los Vascos Chilean cabernet sauvignon coming in at a sweet VND680,000 per bottle. The Aussieres Rouge is a tasty syrah from the Chateau Lafite Rothschild which also pairs beautifully with the steak, and comes in at VND600,000.

 

“We want to keep it simple,” says Thuy Duong. “We attract a lot of groups because people know to expect good quality at a stable price, and there is never any difficulty deciding what you want to eat.”

 

Saigon Lookout is all about accessibility to their customer; their current promotion, which sadly only lasts two weeks, is that if you reserve a table for four or more they will pay for your taxi when you arrive; not just a treat, but a saviour if you fancy a couple of cocktails in the current stormy weather.

 

The layout and concept remains the same between the Steak Frites dining room, Room 37 speakeasy, and The Key club, with each of them catering to a different necessity and similar audience. It’s easy to see exactly why Saigon Lookout has been a talked about hangout spot since it opened; the food is delicious, the drinks taste wonderful, and just being there can transport you back to the glamour of the 1920s. 

 

Saigon Lookout is at 37 Bis Ky Con, Q1, HCMC or online at facebook

Photo by Sian Kanavagh

Photo by Vu Ha Kim Vy

Sian Kavanagh

A Liverpool-born writer who has lived in Amsterdam, Oregon, US and now Ho Chi Minh City, Sian recently graduated with a BA in Journalism from the University of Oregon. When she's not busy with Word Magazine, Siân is volunteering in media production for the Vinacapital Foundation, and is passionate about salsa dancing, exploring Vietnamese cuisine, and hanging out with her 11-year-old French Bulldog.

Website: www.sianjkavanagh.com

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