A touch of class in District 1 offered by The Vintage Emporium. By Dana Filek-Gibson. Photos by Vinh Dao.
Everyone in Saigon is always looking for a café.
Somewhere that’s a little quieter or a little more spacious or a little closer to home or maybe a little further from home, depending on how you feel. We all have our own unique requirements for the perfect café but even so, it seems, most Saigon cafegoers can agree on at least a few things: good coffee, good music and a little peace and quiet.
Those are the reasons that make The Vintage Emporium such a worthy find. Buried along the narrow, sometimes-forgotten Nguyen Van Thu, this bright space has managed to amass a steady following of young professionals, artsy types and freelancers, particularly during their daily lunch specials (VND 99,000), which combine a meal with your choice of Vietnamese coffee or soft drink. The cuisine features a few Vietnamese touches, like the Saigon baguette (VND 95,000), but also crosses into western territory with dishes like the Cajun chicken salad (VND 120,000).
On the beverage side, a quality rendition of ca phe sua da will set you back around VND 45,000, while European coffees range from VND 40,000 – VND 60,000. Other standard café fare is also available, including smoothies (VND 60,000), fruit juices (VND 50,000), a selection of teas (VND 50,000/teapot) and your choice of Tiger, Saigon, Sapporo or Heineken (VND 35,000).
While the quality of these drinks is reason enough to shell out that extra VND 10,000 or VND 20,000 for a good cuppa, Vintage Emporium’s ambiance is an added plus. Simple but sturdy wooden furniture and crisp white walls only serve to highlight the intricate, colourful wall hangings – most of them made by Vietnam’s northern minorities – spaced around the café. Blue-and-white floor tiles lead the way up to Vintage Emporium’s equally charming first floor, while small touches like the fresh flowers that occupy each table give a nod to the owner’s attention to detail.
During lunch hours, you might find the place full of people and good conversation but just wait around until the lunch crowd has cleared, Vintage Emporium will lapse back into its usual easygoing self, playing soft background music that is not of the Top 40 variety and making its bright, cozy rooms a perfect spot to meet with friends, spend an afternoon reading a book or get some work done away from the office.