Apr 2008

Black Cat – Ho Chi Minh City


April 6, 2008
Cuisine: Breakfast

13 Phan Van Dat Street
District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

Phone: 08 829 2055
Website: none


Mango (32,000 VND) and soursop smoothies


French Connection – homemade cinnamon swirl bread dipped in egg and fried in butter served with maple syrup with homemade sausage and apples (99,000 VND)


Toast with blackberry jam


Hello Kitty – strawberry crepes filled with passion fruit cream and topped with toasted almonds and whipped cream (54,000 VND)


Whole grain bagel with “the works” (65,000 VND)

A half-marathon, 3K, 7K and 10K road race was organized earlier this month as part of French Cultural Week. Neither The Astronomer nor I were up for the half-marathon, so we both signed up for the 10K. The course, which weaved in and out of traffic, took us through downtown Saigon and along the riverfront. The Astronomer finished in the low 40s, while I finished in the low 50s. Our friend Matt who was visiting from Boston finished somewhere in between, and our Canadian friend Nina manhandled the 7K. Unlike the BBGV road race we participated in last September, this event attracted a good number of elite Vietnamese athletes. These boys and girls looked scrawny, ran barefoot and totally kicked my ass.

After pounding the pavement in the Saigon heat, The Astronomer, Matt and I wanted to carbo-load, and a hot Viet-sized bowl of noodles wasn’t going to cut it. We headed to Black Cat, which was voted one of the “Top 10 Places in the World You Must Eat” by CNN.com in 2006 and is home to the city’s largest cheeseburger.

Although indulging in a mammoth burger before noon was awfully tempting, all three of us stuck to the breakfast selections. The Astronomer had the French Connection brunch prix fixe that included a soursop smoothie, cinnamon French toast with sausage and apples, and buttered toast with blackberry jam. Although I prefer French toast made with thick slices of brioche and paired with real maple syrup, this version was definitely above average for lacking both elements. The sausage was well-seasoned and texturally unique due to its lack of casing, but the toast was a little too toasty for The Astronomer.

Matt ordered a mango smoothie and strawberry crepes with passion fruit cream; he shared a bite with me, which was super pleasant. It’s hard to go wrong with dessert for breakfast.

I ordered a toasted whole-grain bagel with “the works”—smoked salmon, lettuce, tomato and cream cheese. The bagel sandwich lost major points due to the dangerously skewed ratio of cream cheese to lox. Whenever I drop major dong for a sandwich that tastes no better than a 5,000 VND banh mi, I get mighty depressed. Oh, well.

Breakfast was fun, but forgettable. I will return to eat the famed burger because I like a good challenge and I know that gas•tron•o•my readers will appreciate another post about western food.

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14 thoughts on “Black Cat – Ho Chi Minh City

  1. Would appreciate your review on burgers. We are going to travel with young kids and already they are complaining about eating too much VN food.
    The mango and soursop smoothies look refreshing.

  2. wow, did you hear about this place from the cnn entry, or did you just pass this on the street? when i was visiting from dec-jan, i’d say it was pretty difficult to find especially unique places, but you seem to know where they all are!

    one place i really liked because it was in walking distance from where i’d rest up (family home or hotel room) is called quan tan dinh. it is near cho tan dinh, about a block or two away from it, actually. it is directly across the street from miami cafe. unfortunately, i can’t remember the name of the road, except that it starts with “nguyen” and intersects with hai ba trung in q3. bun bo is really tasty there, and for one bowl of bun bo, a glass of freshly squeezed oj, and a papaya smoothie, the total was just 38,000 or 42,000 i can’t remember exactly. it is a clean, cheap place.

  3. gastronomer, that people are running marathons barefoot in the heat really amazes me! I wouldn’t even do it in fancy running shoes… I agree that the toast looked dry and the blackberry jam looked pretty thick, and it seems very strange to me that the cream cheese on your bagel should go on the bagel, not on top of the veggies! Interesting post, looking forward to hearing about the burger.

  4. WC – Call me crazy, but I think the Viet runners like running barefoot on hot pavement.

    Htran – Black cat is a great place to hit up when your kids start complaining about too much fish sauce.

    thisistrinh – Yah, I think they do have delivery! I am making plans to try the burger sometime soon. I need a posse to help.

    N – You’re coming with to help with the burger. Mark your calendar 😉

    Vince – I heard about Black Cat from fellow expats and from reading expat magazines. I think the CNN honor is a bit of a joke. Top 10 in the world? Yah right… And thank you for the eating tip, I will add it to my ever-growing list 🙂

    foodhoe – This burger will go down in history.

  5. thanks for the support, as the owner and chef i just want to be clear we are a honest and very clean run business where customers come first! language can cause ling delays when an e-pat try and give thier address in vietnamese because there are few streets in vietnam that dont have viet names. this said the CNN article came from their web site and is just the opinion of the writer who did a piece on top ten places you must try in the world. if this was your business would you not use this?
    again thank you all because with out you we would have nothing!

  6. Just wanted to say, I lived in Saigon with my sister for about 3 months last November, December, and January, and this place was always a favorite. One of, if not the best cheeseburgers I have eaten.
    Geoff also has another place, Glass Noodle, very good burritos! At least when the cooks understand I hate onions.

  7. I also live in Sai Gon and love the Black Cat. Their “Garfield” burger is amazing (bacon cheeseburger). Just don’t eat it too much or you will surely die of a heart attack (it’s that good!). Also, make sure to try their cheesecake brownie.

  8. I’m an American who lives in Buon Ma Thuot and on my pretty regular trips to HCMC, this place is a MUST visit. I haven’t had breakfast there, so I don’t know if it’s ‘forgettable’ or not, but that’s definitely not a word I would use when describing Black Cat. The burgers are unreal, the potato salad is fantastic, the reubens are a wonderful taste of home, if a bit greasy. The food in general is just great. I also really enjoyed the banana, chocolate, and peanut butter ‘smoothie’ I had last time I went.

    Do yourself a favor and give the place a shot for lunch or dinner. Don’t just write it off based on this. I’m probably going to go back pretty soon to give their black bean, sweet potato, and chorizo soup a shot. I’ve not been disappointed yet.

  9. Yes, the burgers are definitely top-drawer. And you can ask for a side of mayo to go with the chips and get it. But the fish tacos are so very good, that I rarely explore more of the menu. (I think I will try the corn chips on my next visit, I hear that they are the best in Saigon.

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