The French colonised Vietnam and, for the best part of 100 years, governed Ho Chi Minh City. They left behind a legacy of incredible architecture and wonderful cuisine. Some of the food has absorbed itself into the Vietnamese psych. The humble Banh Mi is a simple sandwich on a french style baguette that is as much a part of the fabric of life here as that most traditional of Vietnamese dishes, Pho.
It was of course a Frenchman who gave the Vietnamese people their alphabet, though you would not always think it. The French influence is everywhere throughout the city. Not just in the wonderful buildings like The Opera House and the People’s Committee Building, but also in street names like Pasteur, Calmette and Yersin. So it is also with the French restaurants here in this wonderful Asian city.
It is therefore not surprising that French restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City are plentiful and varied. They are not confined to the centre of town either. Over the Saigon Bridge in District 2, La Villa has managed to carve out a name for itself, not just as one of the best French restaurants in town, but simply as one of the best restaurants here. This is as good as you would get in the centre of Paris, yet to the clientele of both expats and locals, it is completely “local”.
Le Bouchon de Saigon ironically in the midst of the Japanese area of town, is reminiscent of any small classy restaurant in a provincial French town. Chef David Colpart has created a little piece of his native France in the heart of a bustling Vietnamese city. Yet, these establishments blend in as naturally as any noodle shop or Banh Mi street stall. Just round the corner from here, Chef Erwann Serene has created a superb homely French Bistro styled restaurant, La Cuisine, that has developed into one of the finest French Restaurant in town. The perfect balance between a warm ambience and superb dining singles this one out.
It is the cosmopolitan nature of Ho Chi Minh City that appeals, and when it comes to cuisine, that appeal is broadened. French restaurants here in Vietnam’s largest city are as good as you’ll find anywhere in the world.