When most people travel they bring home a T-shirt or a tea towel — I buy a chandelier and a desk!”David Campbell, January 2015

From the sixth-floor restaurant balcony of Cau Go Vietnamese Cuisine you can neither hear the stabbing horn section and bub-a-bub beat of a million rumbling motorbikes, nor the roosters playing their wailing call-and-response with the cats in heat.

I almost walk past the street-level entrance to Rom BBQ, a Vietnamese rooftop cook-it-yourself joint close to Ben Thanh Market, perched on what could be one of District 1’s prime urban mountaintops. At seven floors up it’s more of a hillock, but bear with me.

Cyprien Pierlovisi loves his food. He was toiling away in French kitchens from the age of 15, before he moved to a London pub and worked behind the bar. This was followed by stints opening successful restaurants and wine bars across Europe.

The dining in the dark concept has hit Saigon hard recently, with two new theme restaurants opening since September (Blackout is the other, at 74/7D Hai Ba Trung, Q1, HCMC, sharing space with La Camargue).

A private restaurant seems almost self-contradictory — yet until September, that’s what Evita Bistro was: only for the degustation of City Garden residents.

Cuisine at La Fiesta, Saigon

Festooned with cacti and luchadore wrestling masks, one might be forgiven for thinking they’d wandered into a Guadalajara cantina and not a Saigon restaurant when visiting La Fiesta.

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