A revamped menu of comfort food gives more reason for a visit to this old favourite in the Pham. By Emily Beyda. Photos by Fred Wissink.

Cafe Zoom has been a Saigon mainstay for more than a decade, so when Michael Kloster became managing partner last year, he knew he would have to tread lightly. Kloster needed to reinvent certain aspects of the cafe, while keeping the things that made it great, like its unbeatable location, classic cocktails, and famous burgers. His mission was to keep things interesting for all the cafe’s customers, both old and new.

Cafe Zoom now has a new look, with external kitchen — so diners can watch the friendly staff prepare their meals — and walls painted bright green, the same colour as Kloster’s infamous vintage Vespa. But the biggest changes have taken place on the menu, where diners can find both exciting new options and old favourites alike.

The menu has been streamlined with a number of special touches. Patrons can get a beer lover’s tour of Vietnam with a selection of local brews, including Huda beer, a hard-to-find Hue original. Zoom is also developing a signature cocktail for the restaurant, which will be featured alongside a long list of mixed drinks.

While diners still can find some of the burgers that put Zoom on the map, and order other old favourites off menu, the new Zoom has a number of surprises in store. The menu boasts classic dishes from western and Vietnamese tradition, as well as a selection of gourmet sausages, all-day breakfast, and an expanded appetizer section. Eager to explore, we ordered the deliciously smoky baba ghanoush, and Zoom Kickstarter plate, followed by grilled chorizo and Hanoi-style claypot fish.

Some notables from the Kickstarter appetizer included chicken breaded with sesame flour and onion rings battered with local Saigon beer, served with a variety of delicious homemade sauces — little touches that elevate classic bar food to something special. The sausage was a perfect blend of flavours, its smoky snap of chorizo balanced with cool of homemade pesto mayonnaise and a sweet tangle of rainbow peppers. The fish was perfectly cooked, tender and flakey, redolent of cumin and onion. We finished our meal, chins and fingers happily dripping with sauce.

Cafe Zoom Phan Ngu Lao
169A De Tham, D10 12 22 99 35 85
7am-2am, seven days


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