Head along Nguyen Cong Tru away from the Riverfront and just after you pass Nam Ky Khoi Nghia on the right there is a Circle K; immediately before this is a small Hem. It is in here that you will find a truly great, little hidden gem of a place called Motown Gastropub. The brainchild of Khuc Thanh Phuong and her partner Marcus, a very amiable German guy with a penchant for all things Tamla. The couple have a successful version of the bar in Hanoi.
Everything about this gastro pub is nodding a respectful head towards the music and culture of a Detroit based record label that changed the face of popular music during the second half of the last century, and provided the aural backdrop to the youth of my generation. Even the family pet, a beautiful cocker spaniel, is called Gordy, named obviously after the legendary record company boss and former lover of Diana Ross, Berry Gordy.
As soon as you enter there is a welcoming feel to the place. The decor is tasteful and includes a brilliant wall mural of Stevie Wonder, in the rear of the ground floor. This was commissioned and painted by a talented, creative Art Student by the name of Ha Nhi.
This is an area that is actually outdoors, though tastefully done to make it appear not so. The front area is a nice space also, with an extended bar top, making good use of the space available. There is a more laid back area upstairs with comfy sofas, coffee tables. and benches. It is here, under the stairs, that Gordy has his own custom built kennel, a nice touch. This is a very very well designed bar. The TVs play old videos of Tamla Motown classics, this is so much better than the bar girl driven drivel in so many D1 bars.
The food menu is also well thought out. So many bars get it wrong trying to be all things to all people. Here there is a smaller, though utterly delicious selection of dishes, that are favourites and equally well planned, prepared and presented. I had a burger with fries and it was delicious. The Bruschetta, a personal favourite, were equally satisfying.
I think Motown is a terrific bar in an area that is fast becoming the centre of Saigon’s bar scene, though admittedly this is the first on the south side of Ham Nghi, unless you count Fox, the large beer club, which I don’t. It has the perfect balance of bar and restaurant, a relaxed atmosphere and great music. It is worthy of everyone’s patronage, give it a go!