A few weeks ago, at Jenius’s launch of ‘I Ate My Way Through Singapore and Vietnam’, I was fortunate to win a lucky door prize – a dining voucher at Saigon Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant in Glebe. So we made use of it on the weekend, and here is the story (in pictures, of course).
The first thing that struck me about Saigon Saigon is the décor – it is not your usual suburban Asian restaurant, you know, with laminate tables and plain walls. The setting here is all striking red walls and dark lacquered floors, punctuated with white coolie hat decorations and a tinkling water feature near the entrance. It means that the clientele are a bit more, um, ‘urbane’.
There are two main dining areas, both open to the street, which provides a nice through-breeze on warm nights. You could almost be in Saigon, if you imagine it hard enough...
The menu has usual Vietnamese dishes, such as the rice paper rolls, the salads and the deep-frieds. We tried each of these vital food groups.
The Saigon Saigon lemon soda ($4.50) is flagged as a chef’s speciality on the menu. The restaurant is BYO, and in the absence/forgetfulness of bringing any grog, the soda was a thirst-quenching burst of minty sweetness.
The mixed entree ($18 for 2 persons) always seems like a cop-out in Asian restaurants, but I like it because it gives you a taste of different items on the menu. I’d already tried the summer rolls and prawn wontons at the book launch, and here they were on the plate again. The serving was a slight disappointment – half a roll for each person is a bit miserly, but the chicken satay and grilled prawns made up for it by their rich flavours.
The waitress had asked whether we wanted everything to come at once or entrees first. We had asked for entrees first, so were surprised when the roast duck salad ($17.50) turned up. I then realised that it is probably not classified as a ‘main’. Nonetheless, it was a substantial and colourful serving of fresh and pickled vegetables and thick slices of duck breast, anointed with a delicious dressing. It looks great, doesn’t it?
As the empty entree plates were whisked away, our main of deep-fried soft shell crab ($23) arrived. Again, this was a generous serving of lightly battered crab – and it was freshly fried because it was nice and hot when you bit into it. I loved this dish, even the copious amounts of garlic.
When I read a menu, I always look at the desserts first – can’t stand it when the desserts are on a separate menu. Fortunately, Saigon Saigon’s desserts ($8.50 each) are on the main menu. So I knew I wanted the deep-fried fritters to finish. But would I go for the banana or pineapple? Banana wins!
We also had a fried ice cream – not my favourite, but this one had a good (thin) crumb coating and the ice cream was rich and not too hard.
Both desserts came with a little pot of ‘sago sauce’ which I thought deserved a place of its own – it was lovely, with lots of sago in a coconut sauce.
The desserts come dusted with cocoa! The bill comes in a carved wooden box.
Glebe Point Road, where restaurant sits, is packed with places that come alive after dark and Saigon Saigon shines like a rich red jewel from the shadows.... Er, sorry, don’t know what came over me just now... Just trying to say that we had a great meal there. The food comes at a snappy pace, and the service and setting are really pleasant. I think I’ll be back, even without a lucky door prize in my hand.
Saigon Saigon is at 95-97 Glebe Point Road, Glebe, NSW. Ph: 02 9660 3888