Saigon may be famous for pho (noodle soup) and banh mi (baguette sandwiches), but that’s just the tip of the city’s food scene. Join us as we check out artisan chocolate and beer in Saigon.
Anybody who knows us knows that we love all levels of food from simple street food to sophisticated gastronomy.
Each type of food has its merits, and we love to find the best in class and eat as much of it as we can wherever we travel. While we were in France earlier this year, we ate our weight in cheese, seconded only by wine during that those months, plus we dined at four Michelin starred restaurants as well.
Some of our best Vietnamese meals were served on sticks and cost under a dollar, and many involved sitting in teeny tiny plastic chairs while surrounded by napkins on the floor. As much as we loved this ultra-casual style of dining, we couldn’t help but miss the western dining experience with its more formal service and stylized platings.
Artisan Chocolate and Beer … and Coffee in Saigon
Spending two weeks in Saigon allowed us to explore the food scene beyond the city’s vast street food network. Though we had some roadblocks (i.e. a broken camera and nasty head colds), we dove deep and found local, artisan food specialists that are taking the Saigon food scene to the next level.
Marou Chocolate Saigon
Chocolate has been a guilty pleasure during our Southeast Asia travels. Though we like the range of chocolate available at local markets and convenience stores, this chocolate is all imported through companies like Cadbury, M&M Mars and Ritter.
We weren’t completely satisfied with our Southeast Asia chocolate experience until we stumbled upon Maison Marou Saigon, an upscale cafe serving Marou Chocolate in solid, liquid and pastry forms.
To call Marou Chocolate local is an understatement.
The artisan chocolate producer sources all of its beans from vetted Vietnamese farmers in a cooperative arrangement and then transforms the beans into delectable chocolate in its Saigon factory. Owners Samuel Maruta and Vincent Mourou have clearly embraced the bean to bar concept and are taking it to the highest level.
Indulging at Maison Marou Saigon is not cheap. But why should it be? Quality costs money and this chocolate is some of the best in the world.
Marou Chocolate Video
Watch our YouTube video to learn more about eating Marou Chocolate at Maison Marou Saigon.
Pasteur Street Brewing Company
We’ve also enjoyed a fair bit of beer in Southeast Asia, mostly mass-produced lagers like Leo, Singha, Bia Hanoi, Huda and Saigon Special. Since we mostly drink craft beer when we’re at home in Philadelphia, imagine our reaction at finding a craft brewery in Saigon. If you’re imagining us to be happy, then you are correct.
Pasteur Street Brewing Company, a pioneer in Vietnam’s craft beer scene, is brewing a wide selection of typical craft beers but with atypical flavors and quality. Other breweries have followed in their path but Pasteur Street remains the leader of the pack.
We don’t usually like fruit in our beer, but we were pleasantly surprised by how much we liked Pasteur Street’s brews flavored with Vietnamese fruit and other local ingredients. Perhaps this is because the Pasteur Street brewers import the malt from countries like Germany and Belgium before brewing their inventively flavored and well-balanced ales.
After chance encounters with Pasteur Street’s General Manager, John Reid, at the Saigon tap room during our first of two visits, we had the opportunity to learn even more about Pasteur Street beer when we visited the artisan brewer’s Long An facility with junior brewer Ryan Lemish.
Lemish gave us the grand tour highlighted by Daryl helping with the passion fruit mash and both of us tasting a few brews straight out of the tanks.
For us, the brewery’s standout beer is the Cyclo Imperial Chocolate Stout brewed with our new favorite chocolate – Marou Chocolate. Bold and strong, this drink is the ultimate combination of chocolate and beer.
If you don’t believe us, then hop on a plane to Saigon so you can taste this worthy winner of the World Beer Cup for best chocolate beer in the world. You may be a bit jet-lagged, but you won’t be sorry.
Pasteur Street Brewing Video
Watch our YouTube video and see us taste lots of Pasteur Street beer.
Coffee at The Workshop
Don’t get us started about the coffee in Saigon. It’s good, it’s cheap and it’s everywhere.
Our apartment block had about a half-dozen coffee shops including one right in our building, plus more right around the corner. Let’s just say we drank a lot of coffee during our two-week visit.
The Workshop is a coffee shop that stands out as one of our favorites in Saigon, perhaps because the shop takes an artisanal approach. After procuring 70% of the beans locally in Vietnam, The Workshop team roasts them on-site to coffee perfection.
The artisan approach doesn’t end with the roasting. Baristas offer several coffee extraction pour over choices including Chemex, Hario V60, Kalita and AeroPress. We visited The Workshop three times and can also vouch for their fizzy coffee and iced latte drinks.
The Workshop is located at 3/F p. q. 1, 27 Ngô Đức Kế, Bến Nghé, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
Original Publication Date: October 15, 2016