Jun 14 2012
A 20-minute drive from Pham Ngu Lao in Saigon, in the heart of the relatively untravelled Phu Nhuan district, The Fig Cafe sits cosily down a short alley on Nguyen Thi Huyen. Hidden from the street by high walls, once inside you’re treated to a lush courtyard filled with large-leafed plants. There are plenty of seats out here but I’d suggest going inside where the eco-friendly theme transitions to comfortable lounge chairs, mood lighting and modern furnishings. The whole place has an earthy vibe, with muted colours, unfinished wood decor, flowers and rocks on every table.
The Fig is a café, so not surprisingly their menu is packed with a variety of drinks, from the obvious selections of coffee and herbal teas to smoothies and fruit juices. Their coffee and tea looks good, with plenty of variety, but I’m a bigger fan of their smoothies. The Fig prides itself on using only natural ingredients in their smoothies and you can certainly taste it in their banana smoothie, my personal favourite.
If you’re in need of something more filling than a drink, Fig also has a large food menu consisting of regional Asian dishes with an emphasis on Vietnamese dishes. There’s plenty of choice, from sticky rice and barbecue pork to soups, but I’ve been a big fan of their noodle dishes, especially the prawn and grilled vegetables, as the prawns are de-shelled and the veggies are particularly fresh. Really, for those of us with less carnivorous tendencies, there are plenty of veggie-based options to recommend here. For example, their mango salad was great but it was on the spicier side.
If you’re thirsty or hungry, The Fig Cafe will have you covered but the trendy digs and fresh food does come at a price that is high for the Phu Nhuan district surrounds. More in line with District 1 establishments, expect drinks to start around 50,000 to 60,000 VND and food to start around 80,000 VND a plate. Even with the high for the area prices the cafe draws a steady crowd of locals, especially at lunch. You’ll be hard pushed to find many other tourists here, but you will find a fair share of young professionals and maybe a handful of expats. Plus, since it sees its fair share of business savvy customers, the staff knows how to set a mood for those with work to do; they’re happy to set you up with free WiFi and ever-flowing tra da.
There’s not that much in the area that rivals The Fig, however you do happen to be a 10-minute walk from Up Cafe, another great out-of–District 1 location. If you’re looking for cheaper eats you are a short taxi ride from the Bobby Brewers on Le Van Sy in District 3 or, while we’re on Le Van Sy, there are plenty of street options at the Nguyen Van Troi market. For a fancier night out you’re also close, about a five-minute drive, to one of my favourite restaurants in HCMC, Cuc Gach Quan. And, if you’re looking for a reason to be in the area, you could also visit the nearby Vinh Nghiem Pagoda and hopefully catch an event.
The Fig Cafe
15 Nguyen Thi Huynh, Phu Nhuan district, Ho Chi Minh City
T: (08) 2211 3544
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