|Cosy corner: The bistro is small but comfortable. — VNS Photos Vo Le Hong
A new bistro in downtown HCMCity serves gourmet French food at reasonable prices, thanks to a chef who chooses local meat and spices over more expensive imported ingredients. Vo Le Hong reports.
It is no secret among my friends that I love French food, so it was no surprise that one of them invited me to try it at a new restaurant.
My first impression on entering 48 Bistro was that it was small but comfortable. The small photographs of France along the wall provide a romantic touch.
Chef Ly Anh Tu, the owner, left his job at a luxury hotel five years ago with the aim of opening his own restaurant serving gourmet food at reasonable prices.
While he did not have very big ambitions, he was very particular about doing everything well.
He planned a small restaurant with 10 tables, but spent an entire month's salary on just a single knife or a small oven so that the bistro was just what he wanted it to be.
My friend wanted steak, so the waiter gave her the choice of three kinds of beef – Vietnamese, Australian and American. She opted for Vietnamese beef with red wine sauce.
|Shellfish trio: Oysters with cheese sauce.
When it came, it looked to have been a good choice. A tender cut of beef from the loin had been cooked quickly over dry heat and was served with salad and potatoes. The look on my friend's face after taking a bite confirmed our initial positive impression. She said that the sauce was what made the dish different from that served at other restaurants. She could not put her finger on what made the sauce special, but said several times that it was delicious.
I ordered oysters with cheese sauce and mimosa salad. A hint of small mandarins made it very different from the usual. Like the steak, it was delicious.
As for the mimosa salad, just look at the photo and you can see how this dish was a concerto of colors and tastes.
|Local ingredients: Vietnamese beefsteak with red wine sauce.
A foreign customer told me he had come to know of the Bistro after attending a friend's birthday party. He liked its Western decorations and friendly environment, but the food was really what won him over.
"Their food is very tasty and of excellent quality," he said. "I love the oven-grilled seafood spaghetti and soft-shelled crab with lemon sauce. Their desserts are also worth a try. I love sweets and their aromatic cheesecake is particularly good."
To keep prices low, the Bistro uses Vietnamese materials. Compared to imported materials, the local ingredients have the advantage of being fresher. The restaurant also adjusts the balance of spices, adding black pepper and chili to make the food suit the Vietnamese palate.
I found it refreshing that the restaurant is honest about the ingredients used. As the menu has over 200 dishes, our relationship will likely be long-term. — VNS
48 BISTRO Restaurant
Address: 48,52 Le Thi Rieng St Dist.1, HCM City
Tel: 08-38332932, 08-39256142. Hotline: 0982004848
Price range: Dishes from VND25,000 to 350,000, set menu from VND120,000 to 150,000/person