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Superbe! French restaurant delivers in Saigon

(No.2, Vol.3, Mar 2013 Vietnam Heritage Magazine)


Filet of beef Rossini.


Cream of chocolate and rasberry.
Photos: Vatel Restaurant

Saigon was sometimes referred to as ‘The Paris of The East’. This is not a moniker lightly bestowed. As one who has visited the real City Of Lights fourteen times, I can see why. There is a similar ambience in our city. The easygoing lifestyle, chic and beautiful ladies and coffee culture all give our city a similar atmosphere. The compliment is well-deserved.
The French left a strong imprint on HCMC. Nowhere is this felt more strongly than in cuisine. ‘Western food’ in Vietnam usually means ‘French food’. As someone who has been to ‘La Belle France’ many times, I feel well qualified to evaluate French eateries.
My latest discovery is one of the beat of the very best. ‘Vatel Restaurant’ [120 Bis Suong Nguyet Anh Street, Tel: (08) 5404-2220], is one of the very best French restaurants I have ever experienced anywhere-including Paris. The ambience is refined, yet down to earth. The manager, Ms Thi, does her best to make each and every patron feel right at home. It’s like dining in the home of a friend.
The menu has a wide assortment of high-quality items to fit every budget and please every palate. One could spend a long time trying to choose from amongst many fine items. Please allow me to tell you about my choices.
As a starter, I chose the Salad Nicoise. The blend of chicken sausage, sliced baby tomatoes, arugula, spices and oil really helped to stimulate the appetite. The homemade bread served with sweet butter, in combination with a small appetizer, made me know that the best was in the present, as well as yet to come.
The ‘Chef’s Piece’ was a delicious beef tenderloin served with wine- reduced sauce and vegetable side dishes. Sometimes, other sauces overwhelmed the beef. This complimented it and made it more delicious. It was juicy and medium rare. I like medium rare beef. This was a classic. It looked like a beautiful picture, and tasted as good as it looked.
My dessert was a chocolate fondant with custard. It was perfectly balanced between sweetness and creaminess. The custard didn’t overwhelm the dish. It made it nicer. The raspberry sorbet, white custard and chocolate fondant combined synergistically to form one of the best desserts I have ever tasted. I only wish I could have eaten another.
Many other items on the menu would fit your tastes, as well. There are fish dishes, such as the soup, lobster and sea bass. There is a wide variety of delicious French desserts, such as crème brulee or assorted pastries. For vegetarians, there is a mixed salad.
There is also an extensive, high-quality wine list. My glass of French Cabernet Sauvignon red wine was pleasing and went well with my tenderloin. I had a lime-rum cocktail, which was quite pleasing and very refreshing. There are many digestifs and other libations, such as champagnes and brandy. Regardless of the stage of your meal and your preferences, the Vatel will have what you like to drink.
One can eat a light meal or something more substantial. The Vatel has everything a connoisseur of French food and fine dining would want. Although not inexpensive, it offers good value for its price and a memorable dining experience.
Pay them a visit. I know you will be very satisfied. I hope you enjoy all of your dining experiences as much as I enjoyed this one.

Vatel Saigon Bistronomique-Lounge
120 Bis Suong Nguyet Anh St, Ben Thanh Ward, Dist.1, Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: (08) 5404-2220;
www.vatelsaigon.com

By Willian Sabino
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