Just opened: Le Garçon Saigon’s southern Vietnamese fare in a bistro setting

Innovative and fun take on a regional cuisine with friendly service

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 December, 2015, 6:00pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 January, 2016, 10:23pm

For this column, we had originally planned to check out Cima, a curious restaurant in Wan Chai serving Japanese and Western cuisines.

When we arrived, we were told that since the restaurant was in its soft opening stage and they were only serving set menus, so we headed to the Star Street area to check out Le Garçon Saigon.

It was busy when we arrived, and the hostess told us we’d have to wait a few minutes as we hadn’t made a reservation, but within minutes, we were taken to our table, where unfortunately, the air conditioning was blasting down on us.

The staff turned it off and we had a relatively enjoyable evening in this latest offering from Black Sheep Restaurants (the group behind Ho Lee Fook and Chôm Chôm). Our friendly waiter told us that chef Bao La serves food from southern Vietnam in a French bistro setting.

For starters the shredded cabbage salad (HK$68) was light and refreshing, with nashi pear, Vietnamese coriander, yuba sheets that didn’t have much taste but added a crunchy texture, and soy-garlic vinaigrette.

Next came two skewers, wagyu beef (HK$138) and sugar cane prawns (HK$148), served with herbs, lettuce, rice paper, vermicelli topped with peanuts, fish sauce (for the prawns) and peanut sauce (for the meat).

It was fun to build our own rolls with the ingredients, but we had to ask for wet towels to wipe our hands. Overall the skewers were delicious, meaty and flavourful, although the peanut sauce was much too salty.

The biggest disappointment of the evening was the cha gio à la maman (HK$78)– said to be the chef’s favourite childhood snack. They turned out to be deep-fried spring rolls wrapped in fresh lettuce leaves, but they were so hard – probably overcooked – that we were worried we’d break our teeth.

Things improved with banh xeo (HK$128), a giant crisp pancake filled with bean sprouts, fresh chillies, prawns and chorizo. Again we were encouraged to wrap it in lettuce before dipping it in fish sauce. We liked the taste, but it was quite messy to eat.

For dessert, we were intrigued by “che” (HK$68), featuring smoked coconut ice cream, meringue sheets, roasted pineapple, taro, sago and peanuts. We were forewarned by the waiter that it was a divisive dessert with diners either liking it or hating it. We liked all the ingredients except for the ice cream, which tasted too much of smoke and too little of coconut. Just a refreshing scoop of coconut ice cream would have sufficed.

Le Garçon Saigon 12-14 Wing Fung Street, Wan Chai, tel: 2455 2499