Located in the Lancaster Building on Le Thanh Ton in the spot once inhabited by Sin Lounge and Cepage, Qui Dining Lounge looks like it has been around for longer than the short time it’s been open. It offers mood lighting and a mellow atmosphere that is equally good for lunch, the afternoon, after-work cocktails, or for an evening out on the town.
The dining lounge is much larger than it appears at first glance, with the seating going way back and wrapping around the bar. Decked out with art murals, dark leather, and soothing lighting, it is easy to see that Qui has begun to create an experience for its customers, offering refreshment and atmosphere at almost any time of day.
The centrepiece of the space is undeniably the bar; well stocked, beautifully lit, and staffed with trained mixologists ready to serve up an assortment of cocktails. As a passionate fan of gin and tonic, my eyes lit up at the full page dedicated to variations of the G&T goodness. Tung Le, bar manager at Qui, recommended the Hendrick’s G&T (VND190,000), which is served with cucumber wedges, cracked black pepper, lime and rosewater. With 13 varieties of gin available, the bar offers to elevate the renowned gin and tonic beyond the basics.
Another recommendation was the Saigon Colada (VND200,000), served in a pineapple-shaped goblet and decorated with flowers and herbs. Upon my first taste, I was greeted with a mouthful of refreshment, and closing my eyes I found myself transported to white sand beaches and the soft sounds of waves lapping up on the shore.
The Midnight Rose (VND 210,000) was a delicate drink served in an ornate tea cup with vodka infused with Earl Grey tea, yogurt syrup and mint liqueur, really giving this drink character. These flavours are enhanced by the fruit from the white peach purée and lemon juice.
“The space we have created is not just a bar, and we’re not trying to be a club; it’s a space you can come for a meal, a cocktail, or some late night relaxation,” says Mark Molnar, the innovation executive chef at Qui. “The menu is fusion, but it’s a natural fusion of flavours, not just forcing combinations for shock value.”
The menu is a combination of delicious and healthy, with many dishes designed to be shared with a group; there are even raw food offerings. The cumin-spiced Mongolian wagyu beef (VND270,000) is deliciousness fried in a wok, and paleo-friendly. The wagyu flank steak is fantastically tender and cooked in a hoisin glaze with Hunanese spice-mix fried with peppers, onions and coriander, creating a delicate blend of flavours.
The snack menu offers many plates of shared bites that are easy on the wallet and a joy for the stomach, starting with the chili-fried edamame (VND60,000).
Chocolate cremeux (VND120,000) served at Qui may be one of my new favourite desserts. Cremeux, not to be confused with a chocolate mousse or ganash, is chocolate served folded atop passion fruit, mango, red chilli and vanilla coulis, with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and five-spice tuile. This decadent dish is a treat for the eyes and for the taste buds, with the salty flavours balancing out the rich chocolate and the sharpness of the coulis.
“We want to be known for our consistency of flavours and combinations — each of our meals should tell a story,” says Vu Duong, marketing director at Qui. He envisions a host of patrons in the lounge, from business associates to young urban professionals, and creative minds.
He adds: “We have music on, but we never want to overwhelm the conversations going on around you. As a lounge we want to create an atmosphere where you can talk and engage with whoever you’re with.”
Qui Dining Lounge is located at 22-22 Bis Le Thanh Ton, Q1, HCMC, and is open from 11am to late. For more info, visit their website at quilounge.com quilounge.com or call (08) 3828 8828