Malt looks a bit like the set of a TV sit-com; the mid-range size allows for privacy and space, while also being small enough to not get lost. Decorated with exposed brick walls, gold leaf murals, and a highly coveted shuffleboard table, Malt is the type of place you could stumble into during a rainstorm, and then realise five hours later that you’ve found your new regular.
Since opening in December 2015, Malt has found itself part of the downtown Saigon pub rotation, offering cold beer, good food and enjoyable space. Until this month Malt didn’t open until 4pm, however now they are serving daily brunch from 9.30am and will have a happy hour every day.
What makes Malt stand out on the Saigon pub scene is the lack of indoor smoking; the inside space is air-conditioned with clean air, a true rarity in a city of smokers.
The Saigon Shuffle
Thao Tran, one of the three owners, quit her corporate day job to open Malt with her husband and a friend, and though her days may be longer now, she has no reservations about her decision to open the bar.
“[We] wanted to create a space where we would enjoy hanging out, and quite naturally things started coming together,” says Thao.
They have been known to host regular darts and shuffleboard tournaments, which have drawn quite large crowds since there are practically no other venues in Saigon with shuffleboard. The simple yet addictive game pairs easily with good beer and company, as long as your companions aren’t too competitive.
The house Bloody Mary (VND80,000 with brunch) finds a balance of spicy, sweet and savoury, served up with a single stick of celery and a rasher of homemade bacon.
“Our friend makes [this bacon] and it’s not sold anywhere, lots of our regulars will come in specifically just for it,” says Thao. I can confirm, as someone who is not a massive fan of pork, that this bacon is heavenly, with a delicious smoked taste and extremely tender.
The bar here has a menu of signature cocktails, however the Moscow Mule (VND140,000) is a huge hit with the regulars, an icy, citrus treat served up in a copper mug to cool you down on the steamiest of Saigon afternoons. They also offer a large range of craft beer on tap, much of it locally produced in Saigon, as well as at the time of writing, the crowd favourite Saigon Cider on draught.
Malt lives up to its name by stocking almost 40 varieties of whisky, mostly single malt, as well as offering sample sizes if you want to try your tongue at as many malt whiskeys as there are to offer.
Malt is located 46 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, HCMC. They can be found online at facebook.com/maltsaigon