Spanish tapas, both traditional and inventive, are the hallmark of this new District 7 eatery, Viva Tapas Bar and Grill. Review and photos by Brett Davis.

The number of Spanish restaurants around town has been on the rise in the last year or so, although they are still some way off from matching the number of establishments for other international cuisines such as French, Italian, Japanese or Korean.

VIVA! tapas bar and grill is the latest entrant on the Spanish scene. Tucked away on a quiet street in Phu My Hung, it is a stone’s throw from the Sky Garden apartment complex. The space is colourful and welcoming and has both indoor and outdoor seating.
Tapas make up the bulk of the menu and cover traditional dishes as well as a few house specialties that put a quirky twist on things.

The albondegas (meatballs in a tomato sauce) are a staple of any tapas restaurant and are great value at VND 75,000. Here they are made from ground pork and beef and manage to remain very juicy and full of flavour. Another highlight was the Spanish white anchovies in olive oil (VND 110,000). Packed with a zesty, salty taste, they go great with a cold beer or dry white wine.

Next up was a simple but wonderful salad of fresh tomatoes, onion and chopped European basil with a light balsamic dressing (VND 45,000), followed by the always-popular melon wrapped with Serrano ham (VND 75,000).

There are also a couple of items on the menu you probably won’t see at your average tapas restaurant, but they are well worth a try. The baked eggs with manchego cheese (VND 75,000) was the product of a late-night search for a snack by one of the owners. It comes served in a clay pot and is pretty much as delicious as it sounds.

Similarly left-field is the aubergine pizza (VND 65,000). These slices of eggplant are breaded and deep-fried before being topped with bacon and cheese and grilled again.

Another interesting item on the menu, and something I have never seen before, is the deep-fried black olives (VND 45,000). These little golden-brown balls of goodness are the perfect beer snack.

If you are in the mood for something not in tapas format and want a full meal, there are also ribeye and sirloin steaks (VND 475,000 and 275,000 respectively), both of which come with salad and mashed potatoes.

A nice wine list includes both new- and old-world bottles, and wine by the glass is available. The house-made sangria, with an added kick from a shot of cognac, is also a must-try.

90 Cao Trieu Phat, Phu My Hung, D7
Tel: 08 54 10 67 21
11.30am-2.30pm and 4pm-late
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