May 17, 2013 § Leave a comment
C and I aren’t really fans of Vietnamese food, so most of the recommendations here aren’t for Vietnamese cuisine, but all are good and are restaurants that I would patronize again the next time I’m in Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh
Some of the restaurants may appear to be located pretty far away, but if you’re staying in the central areas ( near the ben than market) ,cab rides are cheap and shouldn’t cost you more than 3SGD. There are loads of imitation cabs so make sure you get on a legit one with the meter on. The ones you can trust are the vina sun company and ma linh( white and green) Ma linh also has the green cabs but we didnt take any of those so I’m not sure if its legit.
Cuc Gach Quan – Vietnamese fusion
A quaint little restaurant tucked away in one of the smaller streets – I would recommend taking a cab because otherwise its almost impossible to find.
The thing I love most about this place is the impeccable service. The servers are helpful without being intrusive and they speak good enough English to give you recommendations specific to your taste. The ambience was good as well, with the restaurant decorated to look like the inside of a house.
There’s nothing especially fancy about the food, but everything tasted fresh and delicious. We gave up ordering from the menu because there were too many dishes and relied on recommendations from our server. Things that stood out for me included the tofu with bolognese sauce (very good) and our vegetable dish (potato leaves with garlic). It was incredibly fresh and not overcooked, which is something that most Singaporean restaurants can’t seem to get right. C also enjoyed the sweet and sour soup , cooked with a variety of vegetables and fish. It was a tad too sweet for me, but that may just be personal preference.
Their juices are pretty good as well. Fresh squeezed, you can choose to mix your juices, and there are some unusual fruits like the Vietnamese cherry among others. Honey is served together with your juice, just in case its too sour for your taste, and a stem is used in place of a straw, which was a cheap thrill for me.
All in all, we spent around 20 sgd for 4 dishes, rice and drinks, which I thought was very well worth it.
Le Bouchon De Saigon – French
This French bistro tries its best to imitate a bistro you would see in Paris. The red and white checkered table clothes, the paintings ; these are all reminiscent of the times we ate in France. Also, we were served by a young lady who was obviously French, so that helped matters.
Coming into the bistro, we were served glasses of complimentary champagne, always a good sign.We ordered their French onion soup, foie gras terrine, and 1/2 kg mussels as starters to share.
The French onion soup was one of the best I’ve tasted and definitely the highlight of the meal. The foie gras terrine which is apparently home made, was pretty good too, but nothing to rave about. C and I both enjoyed the mussels in white wine sauce. Although I felt the mussels were slightly overcooked , the mussels were plentiful and the white wine sauce was decent. The table next to us ordered the 1kg mussels and it came in a huge pot, none of that rubbish in Singapore where you pay good money and they serve you either 7 measly mussels or mussels that are severely atrophied.
For mains, we both had the ribeye steak which was probably a mistake because by that time I was extremely full. I didn’t find the steak particularly great(lacked flavour) but it was a good portion and juicy, plus they got my doneness right – so nothing to complain about there. We were too full for desert but the table next to us ordered the crepe and the servers rolled out a pan and made it right in front of them, looked pretty good.
The meal was around 100 SGD for 3 appetizers, 2 mains and drinks(including wine). Pricey by Vietnamese standards, but definitely good value. A similar meal in Singapore would probably cost about 150-200SGD
For those with a higher budget, you might want to check out le brassiere de saigon, which is under the same group with more of a fine dining feel – seafood displayed on ice and all that.
Skewers – Mediterranean
This place serves great Mediterranean food. I wouldn’t say the food is tip top, but its above average, and for the price you pay, you definitely get good quality food.
The bread served to us was pipping hot.We had the mushroom soup and prawns for appetizers. Both were really good. The mushroom soup came in a humongous bowl and it was creamy and rich. The prawn appetizer( I can’t remember the exact name, I think it was called the sizzling prawns) came with zucchinis which were crunchy and cooked just right. The sauce was also delicious and we mopped it up with the bread.
C had the mixed seafood pasta which he liked and I had the blackened chicken which looks exactly how it’s described. It was pretty good, straight from the grill with a charred and slightly spicy taste but because it was the chicken breast it got a little dry after awhile. We saw quite a few people ordering the lamb chops which apparently is a speciality of theirs.
I can’t remember exactly how much we spent, but it was probably around 25-35 SGD.
Places to avoid : Casa Italia ( mediocre food, stingy in quantity)
Restaurant wise, Hanoi is no match for HCM. The places we tried were average. Edible certainly but nothing more than that. I suspect the real gem lies in the street food. There are food tours you can take, but we were out of time and money. Also without a guide we didn’t want to risk getting food poisoning. We did try the pho at Pho Gia Truyen located at 49 Bat Dan Street, in the old quarters. Its one of the best apparently, but I found it to be rather average. Perhaps it was due to the hype that led to such high expectations. The broth was good, but nothing fantastic. Still it was quite an experience to sit in the streets and eat as the locals do.
The Hanoi Social Club was one place I really enjoyed. It was located near the hotel I stayed in.
The food is decent and if you’re a health freak, even better. Free range eggs, pumpkin soup, you get the idea. The menu is mostly vegetarian but I did try the Hanoi Social Club burger which was pretty good. It comes with regular fries or bamboo fries. I had the bamboo fries which was interesting, but also not something I would have again.
Mostly I like the place for the vibes and their slushies, which is a god send on a hot humid day. Their tea is also fantastic, served in a nice teapot, with tea leaves mind you, and not a tea bag dunked in hot water.
Places we tried and wouldn’t go back : La Badiane ( okay french food but pales in comparison to the places we tried in HCM. Chef was rather friendly though), Hanoi Garden ( expensive and over rated). Cha Ca Thuy Hong ( tasty but the fish was pre cooked and everything was soaked in oil. C felt sick after but it might not have been this restaurant that caused it). Jackson’s steakhouse ( poor quality for the price)