It’s your typical rainy season evening when we go to visit OnTop Bar at Novotel Saigon Centre (167 Hai Ba Trung, District 3). Thunder roars through the city as lightning fills the sky and, naturally, it has us a bit concerned that the inclement weather will detract from the experience of a rooftop bar. Nevertheless, we ride the elevator to the 20th floor of the hotel and are greeted by the swanky interiors of OnTop Bar, only to quickly realize this will be the perfect place to take shelter from the storm.

Large sliding glass doors lead to an expansive, wraparound terrace and frame the view of the city skyline, while the inside maintains an intimate aura with dim lighting and cozy lounge furniture.

Centered around a large bar, the extensive wood detailing gives the feel of a ritzy, old-fashioned watering hole with elegant modern touches. It’s the sort of place one could disappear for a boozy evening above the city, but don’t be fooled by the fact that it’s a bar—they’re taking gastronomy to new heights with a creative menu that blends Vietnamese and international inspired tapas.

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A large chalkboard showcases the extensive list of craft cocktails, from the Vietnamese Mojito with chili and lemongrass to a Spritz made with sparkling wine, Aperol and soda. We settle in with two Lighting Balls (VND195,000++), which arrive looking like a work of art that one can drink. Poured into a light bulb, the alcoholic elixir is made of gin, pineapple jam, passionfruit syrup and basil, with a top layer of salted milk foam that mixes in for a creamy twist. It’s a sweet and salty combo that instantly has us primed for the feast that is to follow.

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Delving into the food, we start with a platter of BBQ Skewers (VND259,000++) that delivers a mouthwatering combination of surf and turf. Comprised of two lamb, two beef and two fish skewers, all with bell peppers and a creamy sauce on the side, the plate hits all the marks for any BBQ lover. The beef is tender and lightly salted, the fish is moist and flaky, and the lamb is a blast of savory meat. Before we can polish off the skewers, we are presented with sizzling Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken Wings (VND199,000++). As a self-proclaimed wings aficionado, these can be described as nothing short of excellent. A bit tangy, a little spicy, the taste is balanced just right on these crispy chicken morsels.

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With the thunderstorm continuing outside, we decide it best to order another round of cocktails, because we won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. For this round, we decide on the Pork Ribs Combo (VND799,000++) that includes six pork ribs, sweet potato chips, garlic bread, a decanter of Luxury Gin Tonic cocktail and one bottle of French wine (perfect for small groups). The Luxury Gin Tonic is a refreshing take on the classic cocktail, infused with rosemary and aloe vera. The massive rack of ribs was seasoned with a peppery rub, it is a true test of will to finish, but made easier by the fact that the meat simply falls right off the bone. Fortunately, the rain lets up right at this time and we’re able to step out onto the terrace and sip one last cocktail—the Smoke Bomb  (VND195,000++). An intricate blend with a long list of ingredients that includes scotch, gin, tequila, Campari, and pineapple, the mix is stored in barrel for one week before serving to produce a unique, fruity flavor that proves an ideal way to finish our meal. The drinks arrive artistically presented inside a glass dome billowing dry ice and we enjoy it while taking in the glistening cityscape.

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From great cocktails and food to lively ambient music and set against the beautiful skyline, OnTop Bar is a great way to spend a night with friends, family and that significant other.

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