Fresh Vietnamese cuisine inspired by home cooking makes this bright, welcoming spot an excellent choice for a downtown meal. By Michael Tatarski. Photos by Brett Davis.
Chi Hoa means ‘Miss Flower’, a name intended to honour Vietnamese women who work in the kitchen to make meals for their friends and family. Enter the restaurant and you are greeted by an open kitchen, with a staircase leading to three floors of dining, including an open-air terrace which looks out towards the Intercontinental.
The comfortable interior features decorations which pay homage to staples of Vietnamese cuisine, including sacks of rice and the fishing boats which catch your favourite seafood. The terrace, while warm during the day, would be a romantic spot at night.
The extensive menu covers a lot of ground. Diners are able to combine rice and soup with a meat dish for a very reasonable price, and all of the food at Chi Hoa is MSG-free. Appetizers range from VND55,000-VND135,000 and include the likes of crispy featherback fish spring rolls. The main dishes cost VND65,000-VND85,000 and include seafood, pork, beef, chicken and vegetables.
We decided to start with the fried shrimp toasted with Tay Ninh salt (VND120,000), which was an incredible dish. The bright shrimp were beautiful to look at and tasted even better. The salt added great flavour without overpowering the dish and the right amount of spice added a deft kick. This is among the best shrimp dishes I’ve had in Saigon.
Next was the Chi Hoa salmon and pineapple hot pot (VND365,000) featuring okra, green beans and cucumber along with vermicelli noodles and five types of flowers. The plates exploded with vibrant colours, including the pink salmon, and once everything was combined in the boiling broth it created a complex flavour profile that was an absolute delight.
Chi Hoa also offers a variety of homemade drinks, including alcohol. The sugarcane juice with chia seeds and jelly (VND40,000) was extremely refreshing on a hot afternoon and just tasted healthy. You can also choose from banana or wheat wine (VND45,000 per shot or VND300,000 per bottle), as well as coffee or ginger vodka (VND45,000 per shot and VND595,000 per bottle). Breakfast has recently been added to the menu as well, meaning you can stop in for a gourmet banh mi or banh cuon along with a coffee for just VND45,000 on your way to work. With food this good, you might even want to come back for lunch and dinner as well.