A hidden gem

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Hideaway Café in District 3, Ho Chi Minh City

Last weekend I was too early for the live music performance at Acoustic Café in District 3.

It was Sunday, and with Ho Chi Minh City being quieter than on weekdays, walking down to the center seemed like fun until the heavens suddenly opened up. That was when I luckily found Hideaway Café on Pham Ngoc Thach Street.

It would have taken me another 10 minutes to reach Notre Dame Cathedral. So I decided to duck in.

Yes, the café is indeed hidden away; it is located in a French colonial villa under the shade of trees.

It has a dining area in an Italian-style terrace leading to a bar on one side.

With its pink walls, tall narrow doors, several windows, and a terrace under a tree, the place reminded me of a villa on a Tuscan hill in Italy. There are abstract paintings, white silk curtains hung along the ceiling, and charming metal light holders that hung like chandeliers.

I chose a table in a corner on the first floor from where I could see a tree and the balcony through the window. It seemed to be a good place for writing that afternoon. There were some people in the balcony and the corner of the dining room deeply in conversation. But somehow it was quiet.

The café serves Mediterranean foods, highlighted by Italian, Greek, and French dishes. I ordered strawberry juice (VND65,000), steamed rice (VND20,000), and sautéed mushrooms (VND50,000).

There were four or five different kinds of mushrooms, all cooked perfectly to highlight their different textures and fragrances.

HIDEAWAY CAFÉ

41/1 Pham Ngoc Thach Street, District 1, HCMC

In the side dishes menu, there is also couscous (VND50,000), sautéed vegetables (VND45,000), fried polenta (VND50,000) and pommes dauphine (VND50,000).

The starters and soup menu ranges from VND60,000 to VND130,000, and features bread-crumbed clams with mango salsa (VND100,000), beef carpaccio with arugula and parmesan cheese (VND90,000), antipasto (VND130,000), oxtail soup with red wine and root vegetables (VND70,000), and mushroom consomme with seafood (VND80,000).

There is a Greek salad with Halloumi cheese (VND95,000), mixed green salad (VND60,000), poached salmon with green-bean salad and tomato and anchovy dressing (VND240,000); and polenta and roasted vegetable salad (VND80,000).

Hideaway Café also serves a nice collection of pastas and risottos including linguine with yellow fin tuna and capers (VND150,000), pasta with steak, tomatoes and kalamata olives (VND160,000), spaghetti alla carbonara (VND150,000), mushroom risotto (VND160,000), and seafood risotto (VND180,000).

The dessert menu has exotic stuff: coconut pannacotta with caramelised mango (VND55,000), Hideaway special cheese cake (VND60,000), Neapolitant semifreddo (VND60,000), and sticky toffee pudding (VND55,000).

The drink menu has a large selection of Italian coffees, tea, 15 kinds of fresh fruit juices, smoothies, and milk shakes besides punches, mocktails and cocktails, and spirits (whisky, cognac, rum, vodka, gin, tequila).

If you are a fan of Mediterranean cuisine, Hideaway is a good place to chill out with friends after work.

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