When you go to a rooftop bar in Ho Chi Minh City, there are some things most people generally expect to see and hear: expensive prices, colourful flashing lights and straight-laced suits. Now forget all of these preconceived notions, because Upper Saigon is doing something different. Developed as “Saigon’s Urban Oasis”, this new bar and grill is bringing some United States cuisine to District 3.
The lounge is relaxed, with a variety of different areas for patrons to sit. While the music plays a prominent part in the diner’s experience, it’s not overwhelming. The colours of the bar are muted and cool – lots of purples, blues, blacks, and greys.
We sat on the outside patio overlooking District 3. Truly, the view was spectacular. There weren’t too many tall buildings nearby, so large portions of the city were spread out around us. If you’re out of work before the sun sets, this would be a great place for an early dinner.
When we arrived at the Robot Tower, the hostess at the front door greeted us warmly and assumed we were there for the restaurant. She led us to a set of elevators, and we were greeted by a second hostess when we reached the 15th floor.
The wait staff were all courteous and smiled as they took orders and delivered our food and drinks. They made a genuine effort to talk to the guests and develop a relationship on a more personal level than you see at many restaurants in Vietnam. They were also attentive – mid-meal, when our plates were thoroughly soaked with various sauces, a waiter discretely switched the sticky plates with clean replacements.
Food and Drink
Although it doesn’t have the cheapest prices in Saigon, it’s certainly cheaper than most rooftop bars, and about on par with many Western-style eateries around the city. Even better, Upper Saigon offers daily specials on specific items. The menu is definitely heavy on meat dishes, but it also offers a variety of snack options, including Caesar salad (VND90,000) and mixed vegetables with a cheese dip (VND70,000).
The selection of cocktails is long and well-curated. They range from four different flavours of margarita to the tropical drinks ubiquitous throughout the city. If sugary drinks aren’t for you, there’s an extensive list of beer, wine and hard liquor. For my part, I enjoyed the Upper Saigon (VND120,000), the eponymous house drink, which combined Cointreau with banana, orange and lime juice. It was a light and refreshing palate cleanser.
Here was our dinner:
Techno Tacos (VND150,000 for three): A perfect appetiser, or even a light meal. Made with crunchy shells and ground beef, these tacos were stuffed to the brim with fresh greens and topped with salsa. They came with a balsamic vinaigrette that complemented the tacos well.
Buffalo Wings (VND240,000 for 10; VND340,000 for 16): They did not skimp on the sauce with these wings – be sure to stock up on wet wipes. These wings had a bit of heat, but they weren’t overly spicy. The dish came with the traditional garnish of celery and carrot sticks as well as two dipping sauces (ranch and barbecue).
Coal-Baked Cube Roll Rib Eye (VND380,000 for 300 gr): A traditional rib eye cooked well and sliced into strips. It was served with a delicious and well-paired black pepper sauce as well as a side of baked mac and cheese. Without a doubt, the mac and cheese was my favorite dish of the night, and a wonderful surprise in a city where high-quality cheese dishes are a relative scarcity.
Drunken Kung-Fu Ribs (VND360,000 for 0.5 kg; VND650,000 for 1 kg): A generous helping of very saucy ribs (again, wet wipes will be your friend here) served with a tequila-infused dipping sauce and sweet potato fries. The ribs delivered exactly what the menu promised: meaty decadence. Bonus points to the chef for the fries, which were expertly salted.
What Could Be Improved
A steak knife would have been a useful addition for the beef dish.
What People Say
Although the restaurant is still new, reviews have been overwhelmingly positive; most recommend taking advantage of their weekly Techno Taco Tuesday special (50% off!).