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Saigon Day 2 (Part 2): The Loft, Notre Dame Cathedral, Bui Vien, Bun Cha

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Continuing the day from Saigon Post Office (see part 1 here!), we went to The Loft Cafe for a super late lunch. The Loft is located within an extremely dilapidated building called Catinat Building; yet it is definitely 100% worth it to venture into it because The Loft is such a gem to enjoy for the afternoon. Let me sidetrack a bit: I wanted to try Huong Lai nearby but it was closed - Tripadvisor users have also kindly highlighted that booking is recommended if you want to try this highly-raved restaurant. 


 
 
 

I didn't think Saigon was going to have any impressive cafes but The Loft really exceeded my expectations with what they offered! The Bolognese Pasta for 85,000dong (~SGD5.40) could easily rival that of most mid-range restaurants in Singapore, with its al dente spaghetti pasta noodles and very appetizing and succulent tomato pasta sauce! What's more, it's seriously great value for money. The portion was smaller than average but it was perfect to go with a hearty milkshake  and dessert. I got a Matcha Ice Blended for 55,000dong (~SGD3.50) which was lovely till the last drop - with such creamy and intense matcha taste throughout the drink! Though the Mango Panna Cotta didn't taste like a pannacotta like it is called, it was still quite enjoyable.
Would I recommend it? 
Yes, definitely. Not only is The Loft nestled within the city centre with lots of attractions around it, I think that it is a cafe with the heart to serve their customers really good food alongside fantastic attentive service. While I have my reservations for the desserts, the mains and drinks hit the spot for me.

The Loft
95 Pasteur, 2nd floor
District 1 Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam



We popped by Nhà Sách Tribooks just next to The Loft. This is a really cool place that sells a lot of illustration artefacts featuring movie posters and basically, a whole lot of modern-day popular culture stuff. If I'm not wrong, this is the only outlet available in Saigon. So, if you visit Nhà Sách Tribooks and see something you like, get it. Don't regret it. (Speaking from experience)

Nhà Sách Tribooks
158 Đồng Khởi, Bến Nghé
District 1
Hồ Chí Minh
Vietnam


 

The outside grounds of Notre Dame Cathedral Saigon was filled with tourists trying to take photos with it. However, tourists are not allowed to enter unless you intend to participate in the masses. We only managed to browse it 'from the outside' because all the gates were shut to keep the tourists out. It started to rain and we jumped onto a cab to get back to Bui Vien.

 

It was still raining back at Bui Vien Street, but somehow I have already fallen so in love with Saigon even its gloominess is such a beauty to behold. Even the street lights were bubbling into blurry bokeh. We were looking for either a massage parlour or a hairdressing place just to chill indoors for the next two hours as the rain abates - Bui Vien is the perfect place to do that. By the way, I do secretly love getting a haircut when I travel, because it is a good way to rest my legs in between intensive exploring.


If I don't remember wrongly, the one we went in was on 143 Bui Vien, at only 120,000VND (~SGD7.70) for cut, wash and blow. It was pure enjoyment as the skilful Vietnamese ladies worked through my unruly hair and gave me a really mind-numbingly good head massage too for half-an-hour. The Singaporean boss who owns the salon was very friendly too, and upon hearing our accent, realized we were fellow Singaporeans and started chatting with us. There are plenty of hair salons on Bui Vien and adjacent street Pham Ngu Lao - highly recommend you to go ahead and experience Saigon in a different way!
143 Hair Salon
143 Bùi Viện, Quận, 1 Phạm Ngũ Lão
Hồ Chí Minh
Vietnam


For dinner, we went to check-in at Bun Cha which was literally right next to the hair salon. The interior is much more contemporary, clean and sleek, and while it didn't give the authentic feel, the bun cha was quite light on the palate and delicious in a 'healthy way'. Bun Cha is essentially grilled pork with plain white noodles, but they put it in a clear vegetable-based broth. An interesting Vietnamese dish that I couldn't say I love it because it's so vanilla, but yet I like it for how healthy and easy it is to eat.
Would I recommend it?
I am very surprised to see it rank as #4 on Tripadvisor given that I didn't find it particularly outstanding. I guess this place achieved a balance between cleanliness, how delicious the food is, value-for-money, and an easy initiation to Vietnamese cuisine. If you're in the region, why not? Just don't hold it to its reputation as top 10 on Tripadvisor.

Bun Cha
145 Bùi Viện, Quận, 1 Phạm Ngũ Lão
Hồ Chí Minh
Vietnam

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I share interesting episodes in life revolving around food, lifestyle, travel and inspirational ideas. If you would like to stay in touch, follow me on my Instagram on @amie.hu and Facebook page!

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