Thursday, February 7, 2013

Saigon Café

The other day one of my friends found an awesome deal to go try Saigon Café a newish Vietnamese Restaurant in Amsterdam. Johannes van Dam, one of Amsterdam's culinary critics, gave them a 9+ so we were very very curious.

Saigon Café is situated in on of Amsterdam's busy shopping streets the Leidsestraat. Since it's on the first floor above the McDonalds, it's not very obviously present from the outside. Once inside it's decorated in greyish warm colours. The ambiance lies somewhere in between hip-ish and a regular Asian restaurant.

I thought our diner deal was going to be a three course meal which left some choice in the dishes. I was surprised to find out that there would be no choice. Pleasantly surprised that is, cause we were going to get ALL the mentioned dishes! So here's what we got to munch on:
prawn spring roll beef sate
The prawn spring rolls were delicious, crispy on the outside with big seasoned prawns on the inside. Hmmmm. We were all hungry as hell so my friends didn't wait for me. I had to slap away their greedy hands to snap a quick pic for you to see! I had just finished munching down my prawnie when the next dish arrived, super tender beef saté seasoned with lemon grass. Very yummie as well! According to my friend it tasted almost as good as the ones her mum makes.
pho pho condiments
Next was the pho. Also very nicely done. The soup was well flavored with thin slices of tender raw beef floating in it. It also had all the right condiments served with. The only thing we were missing were hoisin sauce and some spicy sambal. Luckily the waiting staff was quick to bring some over so we could enjoy our pho to the max :)
curry chicken crispy chicken
At this point we were very impressed with their food and couldn't wait to find out what would come next.
But the main dishes were a little disappointing. It's not that they were unpleasant, but they just weren't anywhere as good as the preceding dishes. The chicken curry just didn't taste Vietnamese. In fact if they'd served it with a roti it would have been a perfect match. And the crispy chicken did indeed have marvelously crispy skin while still being juicy on the inside, but the taste just wasn't impressive at all. Such a shame.
caramel flan che
Then as desert we had some caramel flan, which was just a caramel flan. Not bad, but not great either. And the che chuoi, hot coconut custard with tapioca pearls and banana, tasted fine. All pearls where cooked through and the banana went well with the coconut flavor. In fact there was nothing wrong with it, but I just didn't really consider it restaurant worthy. Maybe I'm just bitching now, but in the short time I spent in Vietnam I had some awesome tasting che. And yes, I know that it doesn't always look very appealing, but with a little effort you can really make something nice out of it.

But don't let my bitching fool you. We had a lovely evening and we LOVED the first half of our diner. The second half was ok, but not great. They did spark enough curiosity for me to want to try their banh xeo and goi. So I do think I'll give them another try sometime soon. And like I said we had an awesome deal so we got to try ALL these dishes for the mere price of €12,50 per person. That being said, I guess we more than got our money's worth :)

No comments:

Post a Comment