|Eat your colours: Roasted lobster, spinach and porcini. |
Social Club, which is perched on the 23rd level of the M Gallery Hotel des Arts in HCM City, is one of the most talked about destinations for pretty locals and expats’ nights out, so we headed up there for a dining experience.
Stepping out from the elevator, we walked into a spacious venue that looks decidedly mellow with velvet chairs and couches. Conceived by the internationally acclaimed Super Potato design firm of Japan, Social Club’s gorgeous, sumptuous interior is reminiscent of 1930s Indochina. Here, guests can enjoy modern European cuisine, paired with an array of spirits, fine wine and champagnes as well as artful, handcrafted cocktails from the stunning oak wood bar. Most notably, from such a high level, diners also have a great bird’s-eye view overlooking the city.
On the day we visited the restaurant, we were lucky to be treated to delicious creations made by the hotel’s Executive Chef Anne Cecile Degenne, who described herself as a passionate and creative professional in the culinary arts. Before moving to HCM City last September to charm the taste buds of connoisseurs at Social Club, Degenne accumulated experience in several luxury hotels, such as Sofitel So Singapore, Sofitel Manila and Eden Rock in St Barthelemy.
Our dinner opened with Hokkaido scallop ceviche, pomelo and daikon – a very fresh and light starter. The cube-sized scallop was perfectly marinated with lime juice and accompanied by juicy pomelo and sliced red turnip. The fresh taste of the dish was enhanced by additional seasonings, including green spring onion, white onion and diced tomato. A small and crunchy slice of bacon topped the portion, adding an interesting contrast to other soft ingredients in the dish.
The dinner continued with seared foie gras, beluga lentils and celeriac, or turnip-rooted celery. The foie gras had a nice caramel colour on its surface while still remaining buttery and smooth tasting inside. I loved the feeling when it melted in my mouth. The tiny black and glistening lentils, named for the caviar they resemble, were braised perfectly to pair with the foie gras, aiming to reduce the fatty feeling of the high-protein luxury food.
While waiting for the next course to be served, we were quite excited to observe chef Degenne and her team working in their open kitchen.
The beautiful chef was very active in conducting her kitchen’s orchestra to prepare our next course – roasted lobster, spinach and porcini. Visually, I especially liked this creation, as it looked like art with a nice layout and brilliant colours – the red of the lobster against the yellow of the pumpkin mash bed. Sautéed green spinach and brown porcini completed the plate’s layout.
It is really a ‘wow’ dish. The Canadian lobster was succulent; the pumpkin was lightly sweet (thank God for this because if it was as sweet as it usually is, the dish could be considered a dessert), the spinach was lightly crunchy, and the porcini was aromatic –altogether offering a great experience in taste and flavour. Moreover, the foam of the white wine paired with orange zest brought a very unique taste to the dish.
The next main course was grilled beef tenderloin, asparagus and shallot confit. Needless to say, the course was very nice. While the ruby-coloured beef was tender as it should be, the confit shallot brought a delightful twist to a traditional dish. I also liked the green dash underneath the tenderloin created from asparagus and basil. It not only served the décor’s ‘function’, but also gave diners a ‘healthy’ feeling.
Our gourmet experience ended with a lemon tart. Unlike the traditional version, in which the filling was contained inside a pastry shell, chef Degenne placed the lemon-flavoured filling on a bed of almond crumble with lemon sorbet on top. She also used tiny marshmallow bars and ginger jelly to adorn her dessert creation. After having so much protein-rich food, the lemon dessert was really a nice way to balance the calories. – VNS
Social Club Restaurant & Lounge
23rd Floor, Hotel de Arts Saigon
76-78 Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai Street, District 3, HCM City
Opening hours: 5.30pm - 2.30am
Comment: Excellent food, fantastic view, and a nice atmosphere.
|Succulent: Seared foie gras, beluga lentils and celeriac. |
|With a twist: Lemon tart. VNS Photos Thúy Hằng|
|Kitchen’s conductor: Executive Chef Anne Cecile Degenne in the Social Club’s open kitchen. |