Whether to enjoy cocktails on a lazy afternoon or indulge in its fusion menu, The Deck is one of the most chilled-out spots to escape hectic city life. Photos by Fred Wissink and Rosa Chung.

Spend a few minutes at The Deck, and you might just forget you’re in the densest city in the world’s 13th biggest country. A quiet, sun-drenched afternoon on the patio lets you feel as lazy as the foliage sliding endlessly along the Saigon River. Even the passing barges and distant airplanes, the only other signs of life, stay far in the background. And if it rains, watch it through the glass wall under a retractable roof, thanks to last year’s renovations.

The Deck bills itself as a fusion restaurant of mostly western dishes with Asian trimmings. Exhibit A: char grilled lamb fillet kushiyaki (VND 440,000/5 pieces). The eastern touch in this case is not just the nominal Japanese skewering, but the raw bamboo. The shoots are cut to create a mouth in which to stuff the lamb, which has been marinated in soy sauce, sesame seeds, thyme, shallots, and garlic. One of the oldest and most popular menu items, the entree forgoes shank and rack for a fillet cut that leaves the lamb tender yet sturdy. It’s presented on heavy black slate specially-made for the restaurant.

A more obviously Japanese selection, the seared tuna wrapped in nori and served with herb mayonnaise (VND 150,000/3 pieces) comes on a bed of gari and cooked shiso leaf. The rice-less roll resembles sushi, but for the tuna loin’s crusted surface. That crisp outside and full-bodied inside, mixed with the sweet ginger and very edible shiso, makes for a medley of textures.

If you can wait 15 minutes, try the slowly prepared chocolate fondant with green tea ice cream (VND 115,000). Peanuts keep the ice cream together, but it can’t last long against the rich, melted centre of the chocolate, which probably won’t cool before it’s devoured.

For those who find the prices a little steep, drop by for half off cocktails from 4pm to 7pm, or through September, also from 9.30pm to 11.30pm. Try the cocktail of the week inside the pristine white walls, or out in the courtyard on cushions next to lotus leaves in oversized purple pots. The restaurant will add speakers to the enclosure, occasionally hosting parties or bringing in live jazz and Vietnamese music. The Deck also arranges river taxis, well-hydrated sunset cruises, and private boat tours to the Cu Chi Tunnels and the Wildlife Rescue Station for animals that escaped poaching. Call for prices.

38 Nguyen U Di, Thao Dien, An Phu, District 2
Tel: 08 3744 6632
8.30am till late, seven days

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