A minute’s walk from the train station, the recently opened Le Saigon offers a rare all day menu with a wide selection of drinks. They also have cakes on display at the counter near the entrance. Inside, hanging lightbulbs and leaves line the ceiling and a piano sits in the middle of the dining area, a sign that the venue can provide live music.
We went on a rainy Sunday for an early lunch and easily got a seat in the relatively empty restaurant.
We kicked off our lunch with the Banh Xeo, a crispy rice flour crepe filled with pork belly, tiger prawn and bean sprout, with lettuce and herbs to wrap the crepe in. The crepe was a little floury and the filling was mostly bean sprouts with a miserly amount of pork and even less prawn. On the plus side, the dish was fresh and matched well with the accompanying sweet and salty sauce.
The stir fried bean curd with mixed Asian vegetables was nice, if standard. The gravy was nice and thick and there was a fair variety of vegetables.
The Heo Kho To – caramelised pork in claypot with spring onion was disappointing. The amount was very small for the price and the thin, tiny slices of pork were dry. The stock was heavy and overly salty.
Unfortunately it didn’t get any better with the two pho dishes we ordered – the Pho Dac Biet with sliced brisket, flank steak and meatballs, and the Pho Tai Nam which was the same without the meatballs. The broth had no depth of flavour and the beef and meatballs were stale. To be honest, the meat tasted like it had come straight out of the freezer – a big no-no!
The Ca Chien Sot Me came with a lightly battered whole barramundi fried with vegetables in a sweet and sour tamarind sauce. The fish was cooked well, with a crispy outside and flesh that was still soft and moist.
The Ca Ri Ga yellow chicken curry was light on garnish with pretty much no crumbled peanuts and one deep fried basil leaf (it read leaves on the menu), but the curry had a decent amount of chicken pieces and potatoes. The sauce was thick, creamy and had a good peppery kick.
I’m not sure if the last two dishes were enough to redeem the lack of generosity or the use of some inferior-quality ingredients. I hope that it’s just Le Saigon finding its feet as a relatively new player on the scene and that it’ll up its game from this point forward.