I like to consider The Deck as the ace up my sleeve. New visitors to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam always want to spend their first day touring landmarks like the Saigon Central Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral and Ben Thanh Market. They’re “must-dos” by guidebook standards but they’re crowded, hot and noisy and by the end of the day that’s the impression my visitors have of the city. I tell them to freshen up and then take them to The Deck, a restaurant in the more relaxed and quiet District 2. When they walk in they can’t help it- their mouths drop open.
“Are we still in Vietnam?” I remember one visitor asking.
For every quintessential Vietnamese street-side café serving up affordable cuisine and plastic stools on which to eat it, there is a high-end gem waiting to be discovered. The Deck is one of them. The design is sleek and modern with white pillars and teak furniture. Water features and glowing torches set the mood in the courtyard. The main restaurant has a retractable roof and folding glass panel doors that open the room up to the Saigon River.
Many come to watch the sunset while sipping on cocktails and nibbling appetizers. Menu options like the lemongrass ginger martini and the mango chili martini offer tastes of local ingredients. The marinated tuna fresh spring rolls are a delicious twist on the traditional Vietnamese staple. When it comes to entrees, the seafood dishes are where the chef really shines. I often order the herb crusted tuna with papaya chutney and my sister’s boyfriend told me his pan fried sea bass with pumpkin flower sauce was the best meal he’d ever had.
It’s easy to go for The Deck’s daily 4:00-7:00 PM happy hour and end up staying for dinner, dessert, and beyond. Hours slip away enjoying food and conversation while watching boats cruise by on the river. That’s what makes The Deck a sure bet with visitors and locals alike.
Photos courtesy of The Deck