The latest addition to Ho Chi Minh City's growing lounge bar scene
words: MATTHEW COWAN | photos: SMALL VACANCY
There's no question that Ho Chi Minh City's bar scene has matured over the past few years. Something happened around 2014 that heralded change for the city's nightlife. Until then, it had stagnated. There were plenty of places to go for a drink, yes. But apart from a handful of five-star hotel bars, there were very few places in Vietnam's largest city you could go to experience some sophistication.
How quickly things have changed. Fast forward to 2018, we now have a growing list of establishments that offer fine dining, quality cocktails and an ambiance that allows you to forget for a moment the world you've just stepped out of.
And now, the list has just got bigger with the official opening of lounge and dining bar, Small Vacancy.
Small Vacancy — the latest venture by three local Vietnamese partners who have pooled together their extensive experience in F&B and business — is situated down a quiet alleyway off Pasteur Street in District 1. It offers a refuge from the heat and noise just a short stroll from Ho Chi Minh City's cultural and tourist highlights.
Small Vacancy has a speakeasy-vibe — something that is enhanced by its location down the quiet and unassuming alleyway — and is set over two floors. On the ground floor just inside the entrance is a small bar suitable for a quick after-work drink or two before heading home or out for the evening. Happy Hour is from 4pm to 8pm daily with a free cocktail or glass of wine with every drink ordered. In addition to serving up traditional cocktails, Small Vacancy can mix something especially for you. The Vacancy Margarita (VND129,000 / US$5.60), Small Vacancy's take on the legendary margarita cocktail, comes with a subtle hint of chilli added to the salt around the rim of the glass, a star anise seed floating inside, and served up in a glass worthy of a pic for all your social media channels.
Beyond the bar there's a comfortable area called the Freedom Lounge with sofas to retire to afterwards to talk business or to spend some intimate time with a loved one or close friend. According to Truong Thoai Yen, co-founder of Small Vacancy and the person in charge of its concept development, her venue centres on the concept of finding and achieving your dreams, whether it be in business, love or just life in general: "Small Vacancy is about inspiring our guests to dream big and to chase after those dreams."
Upstairs, Small Vacancy is divided into two spaces — the Conquer Lounge, which aims to help guests nurture their ambitions for happiness and success, and the impressive Lifestyle Lounge, featuring suits from collaborator, Leon Suits, which aims to showcase "gentlemanly spirit".
Small Vacancy also offers lunch and dinner at very competitive prices. Main courses on the lunch menu, which changes regularly, start at VND99,000 (US$4.30) for a choice of US and Australian cuts of beef, fish of the day, and seafood options. Side dishes start at VND30,000 (US$1.30) for steamed rice with coconut juice and pandan leaves, and go up to VND79,000 (US$3.45) for a tiger prawn and pumpkin soup, among other options. All ingredients used are premium and organic and served with complimentary homemade bread.
To celebrate Small Vacancy's official launch, there's a 5% discount off the bill until the end of March. Get cracking!
Location: 178/4B Pasteur Street, District 1, HCMC.
Open: Daily from 11am till midnight
Happy Hour : Daily 4pm to 8pm, buy one, get one free for cocktails and glasses of wine
More info: facebook.com/SmallVacancy