Elijah Ferrian checks out the “smaller, French answer to the American neighbourhood joint” that is nestled on Xuan Thuy street. Photos by Vinh Dao.

La BodegaEveryone needs a neighbourhood bar to keep them sane. Throughout history, men and women from all walks of life lay claim to a watering hole to whisk them away from their troubles, or act as a meeting point for celebrations. Luckily for residents of Thao Dien looking for a nice, cozy bar with friendly service and quality products, La Bodega is waiting for them on Xuan Thuy.

Owner of the quaint space, Kenforne Philippe, was writing for a health magazine in France, and when he came here last year he wanted to showcase high quality ingredients. When you come here you will have real, well-sourced coffee.

“The concept is to make a day bar that turns into a night bar,” Philippe says. “I wanted to make a bar for daily customers to serve them breakfast and snacks and specialties like pancakes and churros, nutella churros. I want to make this corner very special because over here there is nothing like this. On this far end near the river you don’t have a whole lot.”

They’ve been open for one year, and started doing their day time hours in April. They serve coffee from VND15,000 and up, plain pancakes start at VND30,000, and vary in price as the toppings increase, while a pack of churros (100g) will run you VND20,000 while zooming to work.

“We stress on the quality of the product. In this immediate area you cannot find pancakes and churros. Our daytime employee Duy is from Dalat, so he knows all about the quality of our products. Coffee, chocolate and juices. We want to focus on more takeaway for the moment. Think of La Bodega during the day as a good place to stop on your way to work.”

In contrast to the day time concept, there is no rigid direction in the night time. It is simply a comfortable bar with a special atmosphere. Foreigners, many among them French, make up the crowd at night.

“Here you can talk about anything,” Philippe explains. “The people that come here like to have true conversations, and that makes any neighbourhood bar a good one. We try to avoid politics, but it is coming anyway.”

Glasses of wine are served from VND60,000, pours of Ricard pastis for VND65,000, and for those that are on a hiatus from alcohol, fresh juices start at VND35,000 and lime, raspberry and peach sodas will cost you VND25,000.

In the future Philippe would like to expand the menu at La Bodega, and he’s open to suggestions from his guests.

“Eventually we will do pate and continue to add more French fare”, Philippe says. “Parisian sandwiches, focusing on the quality of bread, and brie cheese. We’ll do mainly snacks just because we are so small. Most importantly we want to be a special place for our ambience. A friendly place with specialities that are difficult to find in other places. We’re trying to do something that doesn’t exist, and to do it so well that others will have to match what we do to stand out.”

11a Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City.
Tel”  0120 757 3288
Monday to Saturday 6.30am to 5.30pm, 5.30pm to late. 
Closed Sundays