In Vietnam, restaurants with incandescent lighting generally serve dull food, while fluorescent-lit joints with toilet-paper dispensers for napkins turn out the tastiest cooking. (This shall be known as the Inverse Relation of Atmosphere to Authenticity.) However, said rule does not apply to the Temple Club, whose interiors and food are both fabulous. An Indochine/Art Deco fantasia of polished lacquer, palisander, and opium-den screens, this is the city’s prettiest restaurant, bar none. (Co-owner Luc Lejeune, a Provence native, runs Noor, a leading Saigon design firm.) Don’t miss the mi quang soup, a Danang-style broth with thick yellow noodles, peanuts, shrimp, and crunchy rice crackers. The cocktails are equally impressive; try a caipirinha.
Insider Tip: Afterward, stop at Fanny’s ice cream parlor on the ground floor—a Saigon institution. The ice cream is good, though the main attraction is people-watching from the pleasant terrace facing the street.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.