Pham Ngu Lao St.
Pham Ngu Lao runs parallel to Side Street 66, just a block to the west, and is the main drag on the south bank when it comes to eating and drinking. On the corner with Le Loi is the DMZ Bar, which is the de facto hangout in the evenings, but it's under the same ownership as Little Italy, and anything they serve there is available here as well. Little Italy has moved back into its old location on Vo Thi Sau, at the other end of Pham Ngu Lam, and continues to serve up good Italian fare, though we liked the atmosphere at the old temporary location better. In the middle of Pham Ngu Lao,Ngoc Anh has an upscale atmosphere, but still has a lot of good, cheap Vietnamese food on offer, as well as western fare. Its next door neighbour, The Friendly Restaurant, offers very much the same thing, with the option of ordering set menus for three to seven people. Mai Huong Patisserie, also on Pham Ngu Lao serves French and Vietnamese style pastries, as well as western food, in a small shop with a nice atmosphere -- they don't overcharge for drinks either, making it a pleasant and affordable alternative to the bar scene in the evenings. La Carambole is an old stand-by in the Italian food category, and we quite like the pizzas here, and the atmosphere and location make it one of the most popular places on the block. The new Le Caramel at the Asia Hotel suffers from the fancy hotel restaurant curse of never having any customers, but we were surprised at the very reasonable prices of the food here, so check it out. The Fancy Restaurant, on nearby Tran Cao Van is yet another pizza-pasta-burger-fruitshake French-style patisserie that comes recommended by locals.
A block to the east is the sole sushi option, simply called Japanese Restaurant, which also has a limited menu of other Japanese dishes. It's run by a Japanese expat who has set up a home for street-children on the other side of the river and is teaching them job skills in a sewing shop above the restaurant. If you're curious to learn more, the owner, Michio Koyama, can fill you in. In the meantime, the best way to help out is to eat heartily at the restaurant, and think of the slightly inflated prices as a way of donating to a good cause. It's only standard Japanese restaurant fare, but satisfying.