The Givral Bakery & Patisserie was established in 1950. Givral has a reputation as being a colonial era institution. In fact the decor and ambiance are nondescript, but this brasserie is justly popular with visitors simply because it is - Givral!
The cooking and ambience is definitely French with a twist, with prominent baguettes sticking out of straw baskets at one of the counters. The decor is not too elaborate, but it’s comfortable to sit in the booths by the window. You can sense a different type of patron at Givral; mostly ex-pats and somewhat older. The service is slow, but then everything else moves so fast here that it presents an opportunity to relax
Favorite Dish: A wide range of patisserie in French and Japanese style - Birthday cake - Wedding cake - Cookies - Gateaux - Mousse - Ice cream ; Club sandwiches, Caesar Salad and Steak Bearnaise are all available. The many Asian dishes on the menu are as well prepared as the European specialities. Would you prefer steamed fish with black bean sauce or stewed duck in red wine?
Mezze Platter – Marinated Octopus, Steamed mussels, frittata, cured meats, Kalamata olives, chargrilled vegetables, Taramasalata, Fetta; Cold Seafood Plate – King prawn, rock oysters, smoked salmon, scallop tartar, mussels and marinated octopus; Chargrilled Baby Octopus – vine ripened tomato, olives and crumbled fetta; Nick’s Seafood Platter for two - Fresh Cooked Lobster, King Prawns, Blue Swimmer Crab, Sydney Rock Oysters, Catch of the Day, Fried king Prawns, Baby Calamari Steamed Mussels; Sticky Date Pudding - with Butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream; Warm Apple Tart - with Honey Roasted Pear and vanilla ice cream; Chocolate Indulgence - and Raspberry Ripple Ice.
Prices range from $ 14 to 30, pretty expensive for saigon but worth it. they also have a budget special lunch of dinner menu set for only $ 6 (98,000 VND).
Givral offers meals, cakes, pastries plus a wonderful spot for people watching. You'll find the historic Hotel Continental Saigon, Opera House and a stone's throw away from most of the 5star hotels in D1.
After reading the feedback for good pastries in HCMC, I was expecting a lot from Givral. Sadly, their selection of pastries was more bread than flaky pastry. I bought four creme filled buns, custard buns (VND29,000 or PHP85 each; U$1 = VND17,700), to stave off midnight hunger pangs. The cakes reminded me of the time butter cream was the rage in bakeshops in my country 10 years ago. Nowadays, everything is all about fondant cakes or ganache in my place. After paying PHP85 for a piece of bread, my mind is suddenly craving the PHP85 per piece Belgian Chocolate Ensaymada of Bizu in Manila.
I went there twice and found the door open. I decided to close it because the aircon was more warm than cool. Without explanation, they opened the door again. So next time, I suggest summer clothing but the downside is they do not have a separate smoking section so second hand smoke is trapped within the shop. Naturally, there were flies because of open door.
I wish they will graduate to become a proper French Patisserie. :)
Favorite Dish: Strawberry banana smoothie is fresh and not too sweet.
First impressions of this stylish looking café/restaurant were good – well decorated in a sort of retro classy wood look, excellently located across from the Opera House on Don Khoi and providing a great opportunity to snoop on the multitude of passers by.
The menu was a bit disappointing in that there seemed to be a bit of confusion as to what they were serving – my guess was that they were trying to achieve some sort of fusion type menu, but its mix of strange unconnected foods was really quite disconcerting.
I decided to try and stay native so chose spring rolls and what was described as a regional speciality, caramelised pork with rice. My companion, still suffering the effects of Ali Baba’s Indian restaurant (see my other HCMC restaurant tips) settled on the safer option of pumpkin soup with croutons, and the chef’s salad.
Service was quick, but very Russian in that the starters and main courses were delivered together, although they took my pork away again after a few minutes to keep it warm while I ate the spring rolls. I think I am quite a modest person, but I have to say that the spring rolls I made earlier in the week (see my Vietnam Cookery Centre tip under Things to Do) were far superior – I should have offered some tips. Also, the salad with the spring rolls tasted rather unpleasant. The pork, upon its return, was really quite strange to taste. If I had made it, I would have put it down to a mistaken enthusiasm and never made it again, let alone serve it to strangers.
As for my companion, the pumpkin soup was lacking the croutons, and the chef must have been having an off day as his salad was really a pile of onions with lots of processed cheese and processed ham, topped off with a very sorry looking olive – hardly a delicacy.
All in all, for the relatively high price for our meal ($25 USD) I was wholly disappointed – if it were not for the location, they surely couldn’t survive such poor quality for such high prices.
Favorite Dish: The Vietnamese coffee was very good, but not good enough to leave me anything but disappointed.
This is a great place. Is it gourmet fare? No. But is it cool, relaxing, and tasty? Yes.
You can't go wrong by taking a rest at Givral. It's very friendly, easy to find (right across the corner from the famous Hotel Continental) and the staff is very quick.
Sit by the window so you can watch the locals and tourists walk by. Excellent people-watching spot.
Favorite Dish: The strawberry juice was to die for. They also serve a nice cup of Vietnamese coffee and good softshell crabs and spring rolls.
They have what looked like a nice selection of pastry but we weren't in the mood for that so didn't try any.