Peter Cornish checks out Phu My Hung’s premier craft beer bar, Saigon Craft. Photos by Romain Garrigue.
When we rocked up at Saigon Craft there was little reason to ask owner Matthew Scofield why he opened the place, it was written on the wall. “Because I care about supporting local craft brewers, because real beer doesn’t contain chemicals like silicon and ammonia, because I care about words like natural and fresh, I drink craft beer.” And you can’t argue with that.
A little over a year ago there were few places you could get a decent beer in District 7’s Phu My Hung. The average bar served an average beer, there was little to get excited about, and if you wanted a glass of something a little more flavourful than Tiger the chances are you headed into town for the evening.
Saigon Craft has 24 of the best of local beers on tap, and another dozen or so in bottles. They’re chosen for their drink-ability – “if it sells, it’s a winner.” Matthew explained, and having built close relationships with the best of Vietnam’s craft brewers, the bar pours beers that no-one else is pouring in Phu My Hung, and gets access to the new beers first.
A quick look at the labels tied to his taps shows us names like Tropic Thunder LoLo’s Pilsner (VND100,000 for a medium glass), a crisp refreshing drink that goes down a treat on a warm summer’s evening and is brewed exclusively for the bar.
More familiar names like Heart of Darkness’s Pitiless Folly (VND100,000 for a medium glass), Te Te Wheat (VND95,000 for a medium glass) and the ever drinkable Rooster Blonde (VND55,000 for a medium glass) are all to be found on the taps, providing plenty of choice for the seasoned craft drinker or someone wanting to be a little more adventurous in their choice of beer.
The family friendly bar is located opposite Saigon South International School and so of course a regular for the teacher crowd, but in the heart of Korea Town, it attracts a good mix of expats and locals. There’s a sizable terrace outfront, sheltered from the road by mature trees, offering a shaded space from the afternoon sun and to make the most of the evening breeze.
The food menu is a mix of pub grub and a newly arrived German chef is preparing dishes like cheese and antipasti platters (VND185,000/145,000), loaded baked potatoes (VND70,000), an Australian beef Saigon Craft Burger (VND190,000) and BBQ pork ribs (VND95,000). Brunch is served at the weekend and the coffee is Lavazza.
The Teachers’ Club loyalty programme offers discounts and free beer, and with live music twice a month, a weekly quiz night and the largest screen in PMH showing sport, it’s not hard to see why this bar has made a name for itself as a craft beer mecca away from the centre of town.
68 Ly Long Tuong St, Phu My Hung, District 7, Ho Chi Minh City
(corner of Nguyen Duc Canh)