L’Usine – Ho Chi Minh City
One of the very first places my partner wanted to show me when I just arrived in Ho Chi Minh City was L’Usine in District 1.
A clearly hipster and expatriate cafe/vintage store tucked in a pre-war French colonial building, the cafe serves a fusion of French-Vietnamese food and imported tea from Parisian chain Mariage Freres, while the store sells a hodge-podge of clothing from upcoming Vietnamese labels, Cheap Monday jeans, Vespa helmets and even vintage furniture and cameras.
Yes, it is an incredibly hipster place with free Wifi (then again, almost the whole of HCM is wired for free).
Of course, my partner and I love this place, because sitting by a roadside stall like plebians is too mainstream…relax, I kid. We love this place because of the quality of the food for a fraction of the price we would pay in SIN City or Snob Land.
My partner, being the spoilt expat ordered what was pretty much a high class banh mi. The Vietnamese Caramelised Pork with Lime Dressing sandwich. Having said that the street banh mi lacks in quality compared to this one in L’Usine (there’s also a big difference in price paid of course).
I essentially had the breadless version of what he was having, otherwise known as the salad. The Vietnamese Caramelised Pork and Herb Salad with Lime Dressing. I cannot resist Vietnamese pork. It’s lemon grassy, sweet and smokey all at the same time.
Which is also why I love the Vietnamese street food Bun Thit Nuong, but that’s for another post.
To finish off our very hipster meal, we ordered a bowl of yoghurt with assorted tropical fruit. For that day it was melon balls, mango and passion fruit.
Be prepared to spend at least USD$12 or so a person, if you have the full course of drinks and dessert. If you’re only just stepping in for tea or a main meal USD$6-10 would suffice.
L’Usine is located at
151/1 Dong Khoi Street,
1st Floor, District 1