A quiet, laid-back cafe in District 7 serves some of the city’s best British food. By Dana Filek-Gibson. Photos by Fred Wissink.
Appearances can be deceiving. At first glance, Cafe Alex is nothing more than your typical Vietnamese café, a small, open-air space adorned with hanging plants and plastic wicker chairs. But tucked away on a shady side street off Nguyen Thi Thap in the more Vietnamese area of District 7, this restaurant is quickly making a name for itself.
The owner, Chris, takes a no-frills approach to his menu, which features a variety of British comfort food, such as bangers and mash (VND 130,000), liver and bacon (VND 115,000), and even a Sunday roast (VND 150,000, made to order). The English breakfast (VND 110,000) is also hugely popular.
You won’t find the polished interior of a typical expat pub here. From the atmosphere to the furnishings to the single laminated page that constitutes a menu, Cafe Alex is a local place that just happens to serve western fare. The restaurant’s advertising remains largely by word-of-mouth, with a small following among expats.
One of the restaurant’s more popular dishes is the traditional English bangers and mash. Besides a healthy serving of rich, creamy mashed potatoes and fresh green peas, the two hearty sausages are the star of the plate, complemented nicely by thick British gravy and onions. Portions are western-sized as well, meaning one plate is plenty to indulge your craving for a home-cooked meal.
For an equally satisfying but slightly lighter option, fish and chips (VND 105,000) are another British dish done right. Cooked to perfection, the battered basa fish is crispy on the outside but savoury and tender on the inside. Just as important are the chips, which are cut thick and made to order. Request some authentic British tartar sauce, one of the hard-to-find ingredients Cafe Alex offers.
Beyond a laid-back ambiance and incredible food, the cafe also boasts cold beer, Tetley tea, and European football, and Chris is currently trying to build a DVD and book exchange. There is also live music on Wednesday nights, when anyone can join house musician Jonney Gavin for a jam session.
Cafe Alex opens 7am till late, seven days a week