Written as a sample for someone, I will put it here for your enjoyment:
It may be surprising to arrive in this Asian metropolis to find a bevy of chic cafes and restaurants, serving up cuisine from all corners of the earth. The growth of the scene has been spurred by the burgeoning number of tourists visiting the city, and also the band of nearly 100,000 thousand expats who live here. Divided into geographical locations, the majority of eateries are clustered in the city centre along Dong Khoi, Dong Du and Mac Thi Buoi Streets, with another pocket five minutes away along Thai Van Lung and Le Thanh Ton Streets. The backpackers area of the city also boasts a wide selection of restaurants and bars, centered around De Tham and Bui Vien Streets.
The abundance of East Asian restaurants around Thai Van Lung and Le Thanh Ton can be traced to the vast number of Korean and Japanese residents. Whilst the French influence is still evident at places like Le Jardin, new fusions are also encroaching, including Cuban, Spanish, Mexican and Middle Eastern.
Aside from the dearth of East Asian restaurants, almost any other kind of Asian food can be found in District One, including excellent Chinese, Thai and Indian options, with Malaysian, Cambodian and Taiwanese thrown in as well. The Vietnamese scene is naturally expansive. The range includes traditional street food vendors typically serving one or two snacks, small street side restaurants often serving a specialty such as pho or seafood, mid range restaurants with enormous menus and good value, and finally finishing with 5 star luxury fit for a king. Vietnamese food is often reinvented in higher end restaurants to be more suitable to the foreign palette, so bear this mind and be aware that the real taste of Vietnam is not as simple as dining on Dong Khoi St.
The western selection consists of the inevitable, a collection of ‘pub’ style menus serving burgers, ribs, and cooked breakfasts, along with healthier options which champion posh sounding salads and exotic fruit smoothies. There are some real gems that take a little digging to uncover, usually secreted in Saigon’s alleyways, away from the main road.
Coffee shop enthusiasts will not be disappointed either. Despite no Starbucks, Vietnam has its own version, Highlands Coffee. Highlands is a popular choice for its cheap set lunches and home produced selection of coffee, and usually occupies a busy city centre location. Illy Café is another chain which on top of its own stores also ‘provides’ the coffee at many other smaller locations – when you see the small red Illy sign hanging outside you’ll know this is the case.
Other Vietnamese style coffee shops are large, brash roadside extravaganzas, places to see and be seen for the trendy Vietnamese patrons. You won’t run into any of these in the city centre, although they are dotted across other parts of District 1 and especially District 3.
This central area of the city also houses numerous bars usually frequented by Saigon’s foreigners-in-residence. The Aussies have a couple of places to hang out in Café Latin and Blue Gecko. Underground is a London themed bar. All these could be labeled as ‘pub’, but the most recent diversion of Saigon’s nightlife has followed the trendy route of wine bar / club, such as Manna on Dong Khoi St. Don’t be surprised to pay a price that is definitely not aligned with the local currency, more the international dollar rate. Other than this, there are the hotel bars, such as Level 23 at the Sheraton or the infamous Saigon Saigon at the Caravelle, both of which command a spectacular view over the city.
Post midnight, options become limited. The most famous of all Saigon nightspots is Apocalypse Now, a disco in every sense. The wine club crowd will be making their way to Q Bar, a small but popular late night bar, or Lush, the upscale version of Apocalypse. Some may head over to Pham Ngu Lao to continue festivities.
The Pham Ngu Lao St area is a typical travellers den, the ‘Khao Sarn Road’ of Ho Chi Minh City. Inevitably there is a plethora of restaurants, bars, and cafes, as well as ubiquitous accommodation and travel agencies. The eateries of this area differ slightly from the their town centre counterparts; restaurants are cheap and open air providing much better value for money, although of course quality may be compromised. The bastions of the areas nightlife are Go 2 and Allez Boo, large street side bars where backpackers gather to shout over the music and play pool until the early hours. The area has a handful of smaller hole in the wall bars each retaining their own loyal band of patrons. Le Pub and Bobby Brewers provide a more stylish venue, catering to those who prefer the atmosphere in the ‘Pham’ but also enjoy a classier environment than a plastic chair on the street. These kind of establishments may signal the future of the area.
For a taste of true Vietnamese nightlife you could try America in the Windsor Plaza, or Volcano. By the selection of $7000 plus motorbikes in the parking area, it’s deducible that the people inside aren’t short of a few bucks, and they like to show it off too. The dancing is frenetic, the music loud and the atmosphere highly strung.