The name threw me; I must be honest My Chicken Run is not a name to inspire culinary confidence. Perhaps because I have mucked out actual chicken runs, I associate the name with, well, unappetizing things.
Don’t let it throw you. My Chicken Run is one of the hidden gems of Ho Chi Minh City, combining savoury, even unique food with a fun atmosphere and great service, all at a price that is very reasonable.
You’ll know you’re at the right place when you see the large rotisserie oven on the sidewalk, the first I’ve seen this side of the Pacific.
It’s the cleverest and most intriguing site in the restaurant — specially imported at great price, it may be one of a kind in Vietnam. For locals, its novelty attracts; for expats like me, it glows with the aura of home. For everyone, it’s radiates the drool-inducing smell and sight of golden-brown chickens, slowly rotating, brimming with juice.
Stepping in, owner Hau Wai Yan is there to greet me with a handshake and a broad smile.
Yan is a genial hybrid, somehow the perfect man to run a place like My Chicken Run. The son of a Hong Kong father and French mother, he’s friendly and expansive, trained at Lausanne and filled with a passion for food.
As expected, he’s put together a tasting for me to showcase his restaurant at its best. What I don’t expect is the charm of the man himself. He’s funny, interesting and honest, with the slightly sideways perspective that many people who’ve lived in between countries and nationalities often seem to develop.
Tucking into the quarter chicken (VND75,000 / VND99,000 for the combo), I’m honestly transported. I grew up on low-cost, high-quality rotisserie chicken from the local Whole Foods, and by god, it’s déjà food from the first bite. The sides are all high quality — the mash is creamy and smoother than butter, the veggies are cooked but crunchy. The pork knuckle (VND75,000 / VND99,000 for the combo) initially made me wary because of a bad experience once in Munich. These, however, were meaty and juicy, fringed with tasty fat.
Yan’s interest in the history of food has led him to resurrect recipes for fruit drinks made in colonial days. The colonial soft drinks (VND22,000, and available in four flavours) take the cake for most interesting menu item — say what you will about colonialism, those patrician imperialists could make a mean mocktail.
My Chicken Run, Part Deux
In fact, so good was everything that I went back about a week later so my girlfriend could check it out, too.
Here’s why I mentioned it; the first time I was there, the owner sat with me, chatted with me, assured I’d have as perfect a dining experience as possible. The second time, we were just folks — but the food and service were every bit as good. And the menu is expansive, with chicken, quail, pork, salads and more.
One of the things I like most about My Chicken Run is how well the décor reflects the owner’s personality. It’s full of whimsy, with glossy, high-quality prints of chickens in all their majesty. The clean, bright reds and yellows warm the restaurant.
Service, too, is top-notch. Yan insists on training his people properly, and vets them personally for the right character. The servers smile, hustle and keep the place clean and welcoming.
For value, My Chicken Run is probably in the top 10 restaurants in the city, with fresh, delicious, home-made meals at a very attractive price.
My Chicken Run is located at 162 Nguyen Van Thu, Q1, HCMC. It’s open from 6am to 10pm