Vesper cocktail and tapas bar serving food and drink along the river. By Michael Tatarski. Photos by Fred Wissink.

Though it is located along one of the busiest streets in the city, Vesper is a great place to get away from the chaos of life outside. The dark windows, comfortable seats, and intimate lighting of this tapas and cocktail lounge make for a relaxed vibe.

Opened in mid-December and run by Andreas Ertle, the man behind Cepage, Vesper takes its name from the martini made famous by James Bond in Casino Royale. Unsurprisingly, given this influence, Vesper has an extensive, creative selection of cocktails.

The lunchtime menu is fairly standard, with burgers and sandwiches on offer, but at night the creative tapas menu comes to life. Though Ertle says the drinks are the focus at Vesper, it is clear that some serious effort goes into creating the food.

The one-page tapas menu features a wide range of options, with prices running from VND 75,000 to VND 250,000. We began with greens and soy beans, asparagus and sesame dressing (VND 90,000). The greens were fresh and pleasingly crisp, and the smooth, creamy dressing added a slightly acidic taste.

Next was the truffle-infused miso soup (VND 75,000). This rich, hearty broth was unlike any miso soup I’ve had before, and the flavour was simply decadent. We then tried the blue swimmer crab salad (VND 90,000), which is served on the half shell. The fresh, light crab meat was perfectly spiced.
The salmon belly ceviche comes with a poached egg and keta caviar (VND 95,000). This layered, beautifully presented dish had a complex flavour, the earthy yoke of the egg mixing with the fresh salmon and delicate caviar. This was a prime example of the creativity going on in the kitchen.

We ended our meal with two meaty dishes: thinly-sliced roast beef (VND 150,000) and roasted pork belly with soy and mirin sauce and horseradish (VND 130,000). The roast beef — served with a helping of crispy potato cubes — was pink in the middle, as it should be, and rich in taste. The pork belly was so tender it could be eaten with a spoon, and finished off a well-executed meal.

Ground floor Landmark building, 5B Ton Duc Thang, D1
09 07 66 36 49
10am-late Monday to Saturday