Vietnam’s incredibly diverse street food scene is well known. The country, with a population of 95 million, is a culinary superpower worth a special journey just for the sake of eating and sampling different kitchens and cuisines.
In some parts of Saigon we witness the rise of a well-to-do upper middle class. Green-palm-blue-pool and restricted-traffic luxury neighborhoods have been emerging alongside with cool shopping malls and global brands. Also, a kind of “upper” gastronomy is presenting itself, whether in form of a traditional restaurant, a sushi bar, a steakhouse, a huge grill garden or a creative bistro or a brasserie kitchen.
Ho Chi Minh City ranks now among Southeast Asia’s culinary champions like Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong & Co. Should the Michelin Guide pass by, they could easily hand out a few stars and countless Bib Gourmand awards here.
Qui Lounge opened its doors three and a half years ago and is now a rising star among the best gourmet kitchens, the best cocktail bars and the best nightclubs of the city – all at the same time. A real upscale hotspot in Saigon.
The interior has a low key moodlighting, even during daytime. But behind the bar and stools, you find some cosy set tables in the back. During the noontime, you have business lunch offered at a good price-value, and in the dinnertime, some real fascinating fusion food is put on the table.
After 10 p.m., the DJ switches to a new dimension of sound level and the feeling changes to what they call “clubby” around here. The “late night food” is then more like a show of exclusive tapas and of so called lounge offerings: snacks, mezze, crostinis and cold cut platters, sashimis, spring rolls, mushrooms and fish salads. Meanwhile behind the bar, the cocktail factory is set to full-scale output, mixology gets started, cava and champagne flows wild. Qui is an all-out fusion institution.
As the Qui kitchen’s motto goes: “Fusion cooking is not a fancy trend or the latest gig, but a true life philosophy. A deep love for the countless exciting flavours of the world’s tremendously rich and colourful cuisines. Memories of travels, gardens, grandma’s meals. Real cooking has no borders”.
On the menu, there you can find hummus from the Middle East, merguez from the Maghreb, Peruvian ceviche, cacciucco Livornese, Japanese wagyu beef à la Rossini, Catalonian romesco sauce, Spanish chorizo and Iberian ham as well as French truffle-potato foam, Vietnamese roll with fish or meat or vegetables, and even some extremely good salmon pizza.
Aioli and harissa are masterly maneuvering around Asian fermented sauces and condiments made of fish, soy, peanut and chili. All this being held in a uniquely coherent fusion style – smoothly knit and without confusion.
The restaurant group has recently opened Bao Bei, a restaurant offering refined Chinese food. Also, they are about to open a steakhouse and a seafood restaurant with tanks and aquariums filled with live delicacies.
Vise Hospitality’s Group Executive Chef is the Hungarian Mark Molnár. Evidently, Qui’s fusion menu recalls Chef Mark’s more than adventurous professional journey through life up to this date: El Bulli (Catalonia), Martín Berasategui (Basque Country), Le Doyen, Le Taillevant, L’Ourcin (Paris), Commerç26 (Barcelona), Shunkotei Grill del Mercado (Tokyo), Zuma (London). Mark arrived in Saigon a few years ago via Dubai and Miami; his local Head Chef Phuc Pham is pictured third from right.
Further Hungarian colleagues include sous chef David Ruff, who had started once in Costes (the first Michelin-starred restaurant ever in Budapest/Hungary), then went on to work to Krisztián Huszár for years as sous-chef in the high-end Zona, Beszálló and Fáma restaurants, meanwhile finishing on podium in the “Czifray” competition series. Also, he appeared on TV shows made by Bűvös Szakács. Recently arrived at the kitchen is the young István Szelei junior sous-chef.
The cocktails are mixed by Thanh Tung, some items on the drink menu are familiar from his previous international competition achievements. One of them he won with in Japan is made of champagne and Japanese gin with honey and jasmine added.
Qui Lounge – Cuisine Mixology
22 bis Lê Thánh Tôn, Bến Nghé, Quận 1,
Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnám
Telefon: 028 38 28 88 28