when brad pitt and angelina jolie visited ho chi minh city 3 years ago, they visited a vietnamese restaurant located in district 1 called the temple club
not because they went, but because of recommendations i went myself this last trip.
located across the street from an old chinese temple (hence the name) and above the best ice cream parlor in saigon (fanny’s) the temple club was an upscale vietnamese restaurant decorated to look like an old asia hand’s private club. old record players, ancient maps, comfortable couches and old rattan chairs and bar stools located around what looked like a place that maugham or noel coward might have drank some gin and tonics at 70- years ago.
the atmosphere and decoration was fantastic, but would the food add up? one of the issues with being one person traveling, is that it limits the amount of food one is able to try. even though i had just polished off another banh mi, but i still ordered three dishes.
i started with a grilled beef roll dish – and this was so fantastic. it made the entire meal worth it – the crispy outside contrasted with the rice rolls and the lettuce wraps. the smoke from the grill was perfect. i could’ve eaten twenty of these rolls.
the next dish was a miss. when i read the dish description, i decided, “huh, i love escargot and i love lemongrass,” but i found out, that what i really loved was garlic and butter and the smell of lemongrass as opposed to the actual taste. the snails were dry and chewy, while the lemongrass flavor didn’t contribute much.
the last dish was the recommended fish and it was . . . okay. one of the problems with “fancy” vietnamese food was that it ended up just being mediocre chinese food. much better to stick with street level vietnamese food, a lesson i would learn with my next dinner.
overall, the atmosphere and restaurant design (see photos below) made the temple club a great place for a drink and appetizer. and if every dish was like the beef, it would be a no-brainer recommendation. however, the two dishes that weren’t great plus the high prices (i spent 473,000 vdn – or $26.58 usd) make it only a luke-warm recommendation for dinner. unless you end up being a better orderer than i was. my recommendation – more vietnamese, less chinese in the ordering.
29-31 Ton That Thiep Street, Ho Chi Minh City
+84 8 829 9244
here’s some more photos: