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Fine Western cuisine at pleasing prices

Update: July, 05/2015 - 03:31
Succulent snack: Baked oysters with cheese is the most frequently ordered dish at Le Petit Coin de Saigon.

A Vietnamese chef uses unique sauces and seasonings to satisfy both foreign and local palates at Le Petit Coin de Saigon in HCM City. My Duyen reports.

If you're eager to impress family and friends with an upscale Western dinner on weekend and lack the requisite cooking skills, then 12H - Le Petit Coin de Saigon should be on your shortlist to consider.

Located in HCM City's busy centre, the restaurant stands out among many other dining establishments thanks to its stylish Western decor but, more importantly, the artistry that goes into each dish.

The warm welcome and cosy ambience make you feel at home, but it is the impeccable food and professional service that continues to surprise you.

Rabbit food: Chef's salad, beautifully presented.

More than 90 dishes are on offer for lunch and dinner, ranging from locally raised or imported premium beef, pork and lamb to seafood, chicken and duck.

Hong Lan Thanh, the restaurant's owner, told us that the standout dishes included baked oyster with premium cheese, beefsteak, BBQ pork ribs and pasta.

"Vietnamese often assume that Western cuisine is creamy, milky and fatty, and that it's not easy for locals to enjoy," Thanh said. "We aim to offer Western food for both Vietnamese and Westerners, so we've made a small change in our preparation."

"We rely on Western recipes, but our change includes making the taste a bit stronger. It's acceptable for locals and Westerners as well as both adults and children," she said.

The menu also offers a Kid's Corner. Among the favourites are crispy white cheese served with strawberry sauce (VND49,000), spaghetti Bolognese (VND59,000), grilled chicken thigh with French fries (VND65,000) and baked rice with beef and gravy sauce (VND79,000).

As a fan of oysters, my friend and I decided to warm up our taste buds with baked oysters with premium cheese (VND35,000 each), the most frequently ordered dish of the restaurant, and the chef's salad (VND45,000).

The colourful salad was perfect from its look to its taste, especially its dressing, featuring white vinegar, mustard, olive oil, salt, sugar, pepper, garlic and parsley. The addition of sugar added a Vietnamese influence.

American grub: BBQ US pork ribs with French fries and mixed salad, a restaurant specialty you should not miss. — VNS Photos Anh Duy

Carefully selected and skilfully prepared, the baked oyster was so fresh and striking that I had to control my hunger. I wanted to have more after finishing the first but three more dishes were already on order.

Thanh had recommended that we choose grilled US steak with green pepper sauce and mashed potato (VND99,000).

Although I had eaten similar dishes at luxury restaurants in HCM City, the one at Le Petit Coin de Saigon was trully spectacular. The beef was juicy and aromatic thanks to its finely homemade green pepper sauce, a taste that can please both Western and Vietnamese palates.

"It is our chef's secret and the dish that customers think of first when they want a steak dish," she said.

We next sampled BBQ US pork ribs with French fries and mixed salad, one of the restaurant's specialties (VND75,000), and spaghetti Bolognese (VND59,000).

The well marinated BBQ was my favourite dish. The ribs were amazing, tender, tasty and not too fatty. However, the "soul" was in its sauce, an exquisite combination of Western and Vietnamese features, with soy sauce, five-flavour spice, rosemary, paprika, white vinegar, tomato ketchup, chilli sauce, salt and sugar.

Le Petit Coin de Saigon

Address: 49 Tran Nhat Duat Street, District 1, HCM City

Phone: (848) 38480292 - 0919775551

Website: nhahang12h.com.vn - www.facebook.com/nhahang12h

Hours: 10am-2pm; 5pm-10pm.

Comment: fine Western food, cosy ambience, inviting prices and professional service.

Price: VND29,000 - 239,000 per dish.

To achieve the best results, the restaurant uses only fresh and high quality ingredients.

"We have to strictly obey this rule," Thanh said. "The way we cook the food has contributed to our success. We need to ensure that the food is not only fresh and tasty, but also safe for our diners."

The spaghetti Bolognese was also good but as I was nearly full, I only shared a small part of the dish as I wanted to save room for the homemade tiramisu (VND39,000), a favourite choice among kids and female diners.

I usually do not eat anything sweet to end a meal, but this was the best dessert that I had ever sampled. It was not too sweet, and did not taste of alcohol.

Besides the restaurant's popular dishes, there is a long list of signature items that foie gras lovers should not miss, including pan-fried foie gras with baked oyster and balsamic sauce (VND239,000), pan-fried foie gras with salmon steak and balsamic sauce (VND319,000) and pan-fried foie gras with roasted apple and balsamic sauce (VND399,000). All these items are served with pasta.

Other must-tries include roast duck with herb sauce (VND89,000), chicken cordon bleu (VND79,000) and roast chicken with mushroom sauce (VND75,000), all of which will have to wait for another visit. — VNS

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