Today I visited La Rotonde. I have read a lot about this cafe in Saigon and everybody seems to think it is great. The cafe is close to where I am staying and so I decided to try it out.
La Rotonde- Location
La Rotonde is located at 77 Ham Nghi in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. To get there you head east at the Ben Thanh Market roundabout. Head down Ham Nghi St. La Rotonde is located on the right side of the street at the intersections of Ham Nghi and Ton That Dam St.
Entrance and Interior Design
La Rotonde’s entrance is on the ground floor, but the actual cafe is not. Upon entering the black-painted doorway you are immediately in close quarters surrounded by walls with a small and tightly spiraling metal staircase. The stairs are small and two people would have a hard time slipping by one another as there is little room.
After ascending the spiral staircase, coffee seekers are greeted by a waiter who is dressed simply, in a blue pair of jeans and a black t-shirt.
After being seated by one of the giant soaring windows near the exterior of the building, I took a moment to observe La Rotonde.
First I want to speak to its dimensions. The cafe is built upward. The walls extend up to a high vaulted ceiling nearly twenty feet above the cafe below. The designers of the cafe took full advantage of its excellent location on one of Saigon’s widest boulevards. The north facing wall is made up of enormous windows that serve as a beacon for the sun ray’s entrance into the beautiful cafe. It’s an excellent view where you can easily see Saigon’s iconic Bitexco Financial Tower ascending into the sky.
La Rotonde has a great skeleton, but it’s the decorative touches and wonderful ambiance that really gives the cafe its character. Awash with blacks and whites, the cafe exhibits a modern feel, but contrasts itself with a collection of old portraits, interesting ornaments, pottery, and an elegant set of furniture that ties the old French colonial feel with the modern nicely. Adding more depth to the cafe, stacks of magazine and books are conveniently placed throughout, enticing the visitor to put the phone down and begin reading.
La Rotonde: Where You Can Get a Coffee or a Mojito
Inspecting the menu, I found that La Rotonde has an excellent selection of drinks. There is of course coffee- both cold and hot, juices, blended drinks, some beer, and even the classically Cuban mojito! It is a nice balance of choices. What did I go with? The only sensible choice, ca phe sua da (Vietnamese iced coffee with milk).
La Rotonde offers an a la carte selection of food including a Vietnamese breakfast and a small host of other Vietnamese dishes. I did not view this menu in great depth because of an earlier breakfast, but everything looked extremely appetizing and would pair well with the coffee.
This cafe ended up being a great place to relax. When I visited in the mid-morning there were only a few patrons, but my guess is that there is a nice lunch rush because of its premier location. Other than this rush during lunch, La Rotonde is a great cafe for a hang-out. It is already one of my favorite places to relax and read a book with its large windows, spacious interior, and mid-tempo music. It doesn’t hurt that it’s easy to find and access with motorbike parking right outside.
La Rotonde gets it right, balancing the old with the new with an interior design that calls to mind the French colonial era interspersed with a touch of the modern making for an excellent coffee-filled oasis within the sprawling city of Saigon.