HO CHI MINH CITY | I had a big list of food and drink spots to check out when I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City, but only one spot actually booked in. That was ‘Asia’s 50 Best’ awarded modern Vietnamese restaurant, Anan Saigon.
Vietnamese-American owner/chef Peter Cuong Franklin turned his back on a career in finance in the 2000s to follow his true passion, cooking. He trained at Michelin starred restaurants such as Alinea in Chicago, Caprice in Hong Kong, and Nahm in Bangkok, before opening his own restaurants in Hong Kong. In 2016, Peter returned to his country of birth to open Anan.
It’s a multi-level venue, housed amongst the city centre’s oldest wet market, Chợ Cũ. There’s an open kitchen downstairs, dining further up, a pho bar, an indoor bar, and a rooftop bar. The offering on each level is evolving as the city comes out of the pandemic. At the moment, the full menu is available on the restaurant levels and at the two bars.
Cooking is in Peter’s blood, and his biggest inspiration is his mother’s cooking. This passion, combined with a desire to never stop learning, to dig ever deeper into the roots and diversity of Vietnamese cuisine, and to present dishes to diners that challenge preconceptions about what Vietnamese food is, and can be, has resulted in something quite special.
Bánh xèo are reimagined as crispy shell tacos. Bún chả becomes a one bite delight that encapsulates all that’s great about one of my favourite Vietnamese dishes. Nước mắm (fish sauce) infused caramel tops creamy vanilla ice-cream, with Phú Quốc island pepper and a spray of nước mắm perfume. Drinks follow the same philosophy. The ‘Phojito’ is a twist on the mojito, made using herbs commonly found in phở.
I visited twice, first at the bar, a fun space teamed by talented, chatty bartenders who ooze passion without pretentiousness. The second time I headed up to the rooftop, and was lucky enough to have a chat with Peter, and gain a deeper understanding of his food, and what makes him tick. Needless to say I walked away inspired to dig deeper into Vietnamese cuisine. The phrase ‘the more you know, the less you realise you know’ is apt.
89 Tôn Thất Đạm
Ho Chi Minh City
Tue – Sun: 5:00am to 11:00pm