To kick off this Saigon food & beverage blog I nipped out to pub. Not just any boozer mind, but the 500+ seater Hoavener Hoa Vien Brauhaus on Mac Dinh Chi Street. This genuine Czech micro brewery and beer hall – brass brewing kettles, oompah music, pigs trotters an’ all – pumps out the best beer in Vietnam and, until I sup a superior tipple out east, the best beer in Asia. It gets noisy in here, Download hoavener_movie.mov
On offer is a standard ‘lager’ – bia vang tuoi – or that Asian rarity, a dark beer – bia den. Strapped for time, I plumped for 0.3l of each in quick succession. As you might expect, the darker of the two is a hoppier, broody number, while the straw coloured lager is much lighter.
A small bia den goes for 16,000 Vietnamese dong (VD), the lager is cheaper at 14,000VD. Beer monsters and the dehydrated might be tempted by the bumper sized 38,000VD 1l steins, but unless the idea of drinking your body weight in Bohemian fluid grabs you, opt for the smaller 0.3, 0.4 & 0.5l glasses. In the heat of Saigon, there’s no way your beer is gonna remain chilled to the bottom of a 1l vat.
The menu is also worth dipping into and if I’d had time I would have ordered the Czech style fried cheese (Pho mai chien kieu tiep) at 72,000VD. Basically just a slab of cheap and cheerful cheese, covered in breadcumbs, deep-fried and served with a boiled potato and mayonnaise – classy. Lardheads love it. The crab spring rolls (Cha gio cua), 55,000VD, are a crunchy delight even with the protruding crab claws and next time I visit I’ll make sure I have time for the "Beer garden sausages" (Xuc xich vuon bia) 45,000VD. View the business card and the back. They also run a number of other specials that change regularly.