Alongside Cuc Gach Quan and May Cloud, Temple Club is one of the best places to take visitors when one wants to show them the grandeur of old-time Saigon.
The name ‘Temple Club’ features in a great bit of dinner-table trivia — so-named because it used to be the guesthouse for the Hindu temple across the street, back in the time when Saigon was home to a significant population of Indian traders from Pondicherry. But forgive your guests if they ease away from the conversation to take in the exposed brick walls, vaulted ceilings and delicately carved reminders of the past.
The food here is classical Vietnamese, with clay pots and rice beds supporting traditional offerings. The dishes don’t hit the same notes of the home-style versions of cuisine available at other colonial spots on the ‘mom’s in town’ agenda, but there are gems like shrimp in coconut milk and Chinese-style grilled pork spare ribs to keep her happy.
But you didn’t come here just for the food. Work those trustworthy supplements into your order (morning glory and lotus salad? yes and yes) and finish your night on the 1880s-vintage balcony or in the lounge. Sip on some whiskey, smoke a cigar and take in the view — it’s a window into the past and present, a timeless version of Saigon.
— Ed Weinberg
The Temple Club is at 29-31 Ton That Thiep, Q1, Ho Chi Minh City