Situated at the corner of Mac Thi Buoi and Phan Van Dat, on the location once occupied by Seoul House, Soi & Meo Taproom is a hangout opened just after Tet. To explain the name Soi & Meo (wolf and cat), Quynh, the bar manager, says: “It’s inspired by America, where animals are used to name their bars.”
Something feels different upon stepping inside Layla for the first time that sets it apart from other cocktail bars in the same category around Saigon. It could be the floor-to-ceiling windows that bookend the space and allow the last of the fading afternoon light to filter in before the sun dips behind the buildings along Dong Khoi Street below.
What started out as a couch conversation is now a completed family project. Owner Tam Nguyen collaborated with his sister Phuong and brother-in-law Bruce to come up with an establishment where they can share their love for quality coffee, and a cosy, fun space. The planning and execution took them about three months, but the interest in coffee and serving the people is rooted way back. Indeed, Vietcetera Café is what they have envisioned. “We were just joking about opening a café, but one thing led to another and here we are,” says Tam.