A big deal for some.
I might be addicted to red velvet cupcakes. I spent a summer in New York, where cupcakes are a big deal, and I got hooked. Then, all of a sudden, cupcakes started becoming a big deal everywhere: now weddings have cupcakes instead of regular cakes, and cupcake bakeries have popped up all over, even in Saigon. Since I fancy myself as a sort of cupcake connoisseur, I took on the burden of trying HCMC’s cupcakes to see which are better than the rest.
If you’re a red velvet addict, like I might be, then head over to L’Usine, on Dong Khoi, where you will find cupcakes by Sweet and Sour. The light and fluffy, cream cheese frosting is what sets their 50,000 VND moist, red velvet apart; it is not too sweet and not too thick. Also, since you’re at L’Usine, you have a menu available that expands beyond cups and cakes. So if you have a “friend” who is on a “diet”, you can take them here so they can get a salad while they just try a “bite” of your cupcake.
Just down the street from the post office and the Notre Dame Cathedral, conveniently close to my city walk, on Nguyen Du you’ll find Pacey Cupcakes. Everything about Pacey is small, from its attic-like seating area, to its cramped ordering quarters, to its cupcakes themselves. But since they’re smaller they’re also cheaper and that means for about the same price as one cupcake elsewhere you can get two. Here you’ll usually find a mixture of around twelve flavours, at 29,000VND each. You’ll notice they put a little twist on their red velvet with a coconut frosting, which is good but different. Unbelievably to me, Pacey is home to my favourite cupcake in the city and it’s not red velvet: it’s their chocolate banana, a mixture of banana bread, creamy chocolate frosting, and my tears! Not my recommendation for a sit down experience but for grab and go it’s got my vote.
The new kid on the block is Cakewalk Cupcakes on Nguyen Cong Tru. Cakewalk has the authentic atmosphere of a cupcake bakery; when I go I feel a little glamorous. They make a decent red velvet but I’m a fan of their specialty cupcakes, like their banoffee, a combination of banana and toffee, and their vanilla with buttercream topped with roasted almonds. On a given day you’ll find around eight types of cupcakes, at 50,000 VND each, and if you’re lucky they may have a couple of flavours of cupcake truffles. They also have a frequent buyer card, with rewards leading up to free cupcakes. If you want to sit down in peace, with a tasty cupcake in a cute bakery, Cakewalk is your place.
The stakes in the cupcake game have definitely been raised in Saigon. If you’re looking for a good sweet treat, now you know where to go. Just don’t snatch the last red velvet!
151 Dong Khoi, 1st Floor, Dist 1
T: (08) 6674 3565
53G Nguyen Du, Dist 1
T: (08) 3823 3223
84 Nguyen Cong Tru
T: (08) 6295 9087
By Angela Schonberg
Last updated on 23rd October, 2014.