Qui Cuisine Mixology has created a warm and very welcoming venue in the heart of the Japanese area of District 1. I liked the split level floor round the bar and the way that all aspects of the venue can be seen from all other areas, yet at the same time an illusion of privacy is created in the VIP area - this has a darker ambience and a gentler, quieter feel to the rest of the venue. Tables are of varying heights, something that I don’t feel is common enough in a city that is often obsessed with high stools. Yes, there are stools in the bar area but there are also raised booths, with lower seating. Additionally, there are dining tables with comfy seats. The whole place, works incredibly well, aided by some quite remarkable sprayed artwork on the walls.
Whilst late at night the music is cranked up and lively, Qui understands that straight from the office, a more chilled-out vibe is what most people are looking for. Whilst chillout house music is not my thing, it was played at a volume that made me relaxed after a long day. I think they have this right. The Western DJ starts at 7 p.m. and is mindful of the fact that people at this time of the evening are deep in conversation and also wanting to enjoy the food.
The clientele is made up of a mix of locals and expats, mainly young professionals. It is a smart well-heeled group and the ambience that they help to create is one of calm. This is a good venue to wind down in after work.
My first impression of Qui were good. Motorbike parking is downstairs in the underground parking lot and one then has to walk up the ramp. Staff are attentive and instantly grabbed an umbrella to save me from getting further soaked in the pouring rain. Wait staff inside work hard to get everything right for you.
This was a huge hit for me. I started with Wagyu Beef Gyoza. These dim sum style dumplings were sumptuous, a hint of truffle oil, not overpowering, soft, light and bursting with flavours. The Thai honey chicken wings were exactly how I like them, these were moist and delicate; almost quail-like in their presentation. In fact overall, the presentation was a highlight of the evening.
The Qui Salad was superb, I lost count of the number of flavours that were bursting on my tongue. The mint, basil, rocket, lettuce, broccoli and petite flowers were wrapped up in a dressing that whilst bold in its design was delicate in its undertaking. Delving deeper, avocado and tomato took centre stage, then it was the turn of pomelo. This was a salad lover’s dream. A true 5 star salad and a real highlight not just of this meal but of Saigon.
The flank steak main was deceptive in its simplicity. This seems to be a theme here, food is put together carefully, and at first glance or even first taste seems, simple. However when the complexity of the flavours start to come through it is apparent that there is some real artistry going on here.
Qui has an extensive Happy Hour Menu, with many drinks and snacks priced at a realistic VND99,000. This is, I think, reasonable for the style of place and the location. It is an expensive, select bar and that comes at a price.
Sakura sour This cocktail is beautifully presented, though the heavy dusting of green tea on the outside of the glass, is surely an accident waiting to happen for someone wearing light clothing. Be sure to hold your glass by the stem. The drink itself was refreshing and had a pleasant understated taste, with just a nice kick of gin and sake providing the alcohol. I liked this, the aroma of the tea was stronger than it actually tasted, all in all, the flavours were extremely well balanced.
Qui Martini is a real winner. Tanqueray provides the gin, and one of Scotland’s finest single malts, Lagavulin, provides the kick. Cinnamon, angostura and orange bitters plus lemongrass all added up to a huge plus for this particular martini lover. Like the food, this at first taste was a rather pleasant martini, nothing wrong with that. However, slowly but surely the subtle values of the spices start to creep up on you. It was seriously good. Presentation again, was thoughtful and well executed, from the choice of glass to the delicate little clothes peg holding the slice of orange in place.
A Touch From Asia Jameson Whiskey, local green tea, Japanese apricot liqueur, pistachio and mirin. This was served in a small bowl standing on a wooden box. The mixologist really goes to town on this one. It is quite simply, stunning.
Qui, is destined to set new standards for this type of venue, of that there is no doubt. If sophisticated, smart venues with great fusion food and superb cocktails are your thing, you will absolutely love this place.
Parking is an issue. After parking, you have to walk down a short ramp then up a long one, sharing the space with traffic. It seems odd for a modern tower to have no lift from the parking bays.
There a few great reviews on TripAdvisor at the moment but not enough to really expand on. Try out the place for yourself!
Be bold and experiment with your choice of cocktail, the mixology here is as good as it gets, drinks that sound like an odd combination are masterfully done.