HCMC Dining Guide

Monday, July 2, 2012

Opulence Defined

A couple of weeks ago I reviewed a restaurant called Cham Charm in the Crescent (pictured above), out in Phu My Hung. This is one of the most high-end areas of the city, and this restaurant was one of the first places to show up in the nascent development a few years back.

Cham Charm is one of many businesses in town run by the Khai family, under the name of the Khai Silk corporation. Apparently the head of the family makes most of his money (and they have an awful lot of it) selling silk overseas. For some reason his income is not entirely legal under Vietnamese tax laws, but through a loophole he is able to spend it on property. As a result what he does is build absurdly luxurious establishments (mostly restaurants), and when he needs a cash influx he simply sells one.

There seems to be a new Khai Silk restaurant opening every few months, and there is one near my house that usually has a Rolls-Royce parked out front. Charm Charm is no exception from this opulence; in fact it's one of the most upscale restaurants I've ever eaten at.
The entrance looked like a more benevolent version of the Temple of Doom.
The inside was full of Cham (an ancient culture from central Vietnam) artifacts, moody lighting, and ornately carved walls. The enormous seating area is spread over three floors - the middle one, which is where you enter, features a $50 buffet that offers tons of seafood, sushi, sashimi, Indian and Thai food, western dishes, and desserts cooked in-house, along with Japanese beer and a Chilean wine vintage made specially for the restaurant. Upstairs is where a set menu is offered three times a week, and there are also two private tables suspended from the ceiling of balconies. On the ground floor is a well-stocked bar, event rooms, and more decorations. I reviewed another Khai Silk restaurant a few months back, and the signature black-and-white color scheme of their eateries didn't really work. Cham Charm employs more earthy colors, and while it is obviously ridiculous it also works visually.

Of course one of the highlights is the food, particularly the seafood. Here are some shots of what I had. I have no idea what that is in the second picture, but it was fantastic. I also had a grilled lobster but I forgot to take a picture because it looked so delicious that I couldn't wait to tear into it.

A dessert the manager specially recommended was this Japanese green tea ice cream with sweet beans.
Some home-made sweets.
This was on a Thursday night and the place was doing some serious business, which surprised me considering how expensive it is, particularly by Vietnam standards. When I walked outside I realized who made up the clientele, as a line of Audi, BMW, and Mercedes SUVs and sedans sat outside of the entrance. Cham Charm certainly isn't a place you would visit with anything resembling regularity, but for a special occasion, or just the 'wow!' factor, it's well worth a visit.

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