The district of Thao Dien hides a large number of gems where one can relax and forget about the stress of downtown Saigon. One of the latest retreats to be added to this list is Cafe de la Mer.
The name says it all — resembling what many of us may think of as the classic idyllic beach bar that many of us would think of. With a refreshing contrast of white and blue, the cafe design and atmosphere definitely help you cool down your mind.
It's made up of two different spaces, an interior where you can avoid the hot hours and an exterior where you can chill on their benches, perfect for enjoying those merry after-work drinks.
The concept that the owner wants to create for this white beach oasis is a place for people to relax and enjoy each other’s company without the noise that other venues might offer. Every once in a while, for no particular reason, they organize random events — or ‘little surprises’ as one of the managers prefers to call them. Recently they hosted the Humans of Saigon exhibition, which was a great success. Follow their Facebook page and stay tuned for upcoming events.
Cafe de la Mer can be considered a Vietnamese business from head to toe; they often hire students who, after a while, will stop working because they can’t handle the pressure of studying and working at the same time. The staff was friendly and warm, although a better trained and more skilled workforce would help. This is certainly an area where there is room for improvement, although the cafe seems to be doing well anyway.
When it comes to their goodies, they have an extensive menu with a wide range of Vietnamese favourites. A list of vegetarian alternatives is also included. You will find it difficult to choose between the large and original selection of drinks priced from VND55,000 to VND85,000, including an impressive variety of coffees, teas and juices. Their coffee with a hint of cinnamon was very enjoyable as was their berry tea with mint. Both equally healthy and yummy!
Food prices range from VND95,000 to VND250,000. My meal started with a refreshing octopus salad with plums, followed by some grilled chicken skewers with star fruit and a set of flavoursome lemongrass beef skewers. The winner of the veggie treats was a mild coconut curry, which was missing a bit of spice, though.
This was altogether a satisfying foodie episode at this suburban beach haven. But bear in mind that they are still developing. — Natalia Martinez
Le Cafe de La Mer is at 61 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC