Set on busy Thai Van Lung in a lot that once was a hotel is 5ku station, a fresh take on the traditional hot pot places you find around Ho Chi Minh City. Judging by the almost full restaurant on a Sunday night, I think the concept is working.
A mix of hip Saigonese and western tourists and expatriates were in the mix in the al fresco restaurant. We were seated in the middle of it and went to looking through the menu. A disconcerting element of the restaurant was that several of the wooden tables had scorch marks on them with holes peeking through the tabletops. Not an sign of confidence for a restaurant that specializes in BBQ and is predominately all wood.
The service was be hit and miss as it took awhile for the waiter to get our order. However, with the exception of that one hiccup, the service was fast and efficient. The menu is reasonably priced and varied. You can order dishes from the kitchen, or opt for the DIY approach and have some barbecued items or a hotpot. We went for the DIY approach and ordered a bunch of items to barbecue. Fish runs 114,000 Dong, meats run 84,000 Dong and Veggies run 49,000 Dong. A bottle of Heineken will run you 20,000 Dong.
If you go DIY, a waiter in all black brings out a clay pot with some very hot coals and a grill. Next comes up your mixture of food and tongs. Like all barbecue places of this nature, be ready to stink of smoke and grilled meats for the rest of the night.
Once we got our pot, we were relieved to find that it had a metal guard to keep the heat off the wooden table! Grilling your own meat is always fun for me and I loved the informal, chilled out atmosphere of the place.
We were also given some leaf lettuce and a chili lime dipping sauce. It seemed like an afterthought until we used the lettuce to wrap our grilled meats and dipped them. The lettuce was slightly bitter which combined with the marinated meats and tart dipping sauce made for a full bodied taste sensation!
We were very full at the end of the meal and would definitely go back for another nom nom.
Some more pics of the evening:
29 Thai Van Lung
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam