Viet Nam News
by Thúy Hằng
After an hour-long wander through a glossy shopping mall, especially when the clock was almost 1pm, the only thing I wanted was a place to rest my feet and treat my hungry tummy.
Like a fighting bull, I was magnetically drawn by the bright red-coloured door of T-Coffee, which is located right on the first floor of the mall. Stepping through the red door, my eyes recently familiar with the brightly lit shops and glitzy mannequins were rested by a relaxing atmosphere. Green potted plants on wood-slab tables under brown glass hanging lights shining a very soft glow gave respite.
Like some other newly opened cafes and bistros, T-Coffee’s interior reflects an Art Decor style, considered trendy nowadays in Việt Nam. A combination of modern decorative and industrial arts, T-Coffee features exposed pipes across the ceiling, black steel chairs and some vintage-style print textile sofas. One wall has been turned into a large painting depicting white flowers in full bloom. The wall seems to be a nice backdrop for selfies, because during my less-than-an-hour lunch, I saw at least five young women snapping selfies in front of the mural.
As a bistro, its menu includes the basics including soup and salad, pizza, calzone (a kind of folded Italian oven-baked pizza), steak and desserts. The number of dishes offered was not abundant.
I skimmed over the pizza section that presented nine options. The name of each pizza would evoke anyone’s curiosity about what it tasted like. The ’Tonkin’ includes duck meat, cucumber, celery and mozzarella; the ’Hà Nội’ features pork, papaya and carrot; the ’Bangkok’ contains lean pork and mozzarella; the ’Seoul’ portraits chicken thigh, garlic, chilli, lemongrass, and mozzarella; and the ’Havana’ has chicken thigh, bacon, avocado and mozzarella.
Despite not being mentioned in the pizza section, the menu also presents an attractive photo of the ‘Mekong’ pizza with colourful fresh fruit on top of a thin crust. Under the pressure of my own curiosity, I also wanted to try this one, however, I didn’t pick the ’Mekong’. Instead, my spicy taste buds urged me to select the ’Bangkok’, which had the sign of a red chilli next to it. I also ordered a portion of pan-seared US beef salad.
The salad was not bad. The beef was soft and pan-seared in the proper way to keep its moisture and light pink colour. The amount of balsamic vinegar was enough to connect the buttery beef with the salad and assorted vegetables on the plate.
When my main dish was placed in front of me, I was a quite disappointed by its plain simple appearance; the crust had been covered by a layer of minced pork mixed with Thai basil and mint. OK, what can I do in this situation other than deal with my own decision? I picked a piece of pizza and carefully tried the first bite.
Wow, wow, wow, it was completely opposite to my earlier "prejudice"! Its flavourful taste exploded in my mouth. It was a really nice and unexpected surprise. Spicy chilli, well-marinated lean pork, aromatic herbs, creamy mozzarella and crunchy crust -- all in harmony to offer my taste buds a nice treat.
As I didn’t have any room left for the tempting Mekong pizza, a week later, together with a friend, I came back to T-Coffee to satisfy my curiosity over the taste of this fruit pizza.
Alongside our own pick -- US beef fillet mignon with Canadian scallops (VNĐ350,000) -- with the suggestion of a friendly waiter, we also ordered a "free-style" pizza with four different tastes, including the ’Mekong’, the ’Tonkin’, the Florence and mushroom. You can choose any special mixed pizza available at T-Coffee.
Too eager for the ’Mekong’ fruit pizza, I took a piece and started to nibble. The beautiful pizza, which looks like a palette of red strawberry, purple grape, green kiwi and apple, dark pink dragon fruit and yellow mango, is absolutely fresh. This “unique” pizza has a thin layer of cream cheese instead of mozzarella. I felt delighted to enjoy this pizza, which should be referred to as a dessert.
As a mushroom-holic, I like any dish containing this fleshy fungi. That’s why I had no complaints about the aromatic pan-seared buttery button mushrooms on one fourth of the pizza.
Although the ’Tonkin’ featuring roasted duck is a best-seller at T-Coffee (according to the waiter), it failed to conquer my taste buds. I need to say that the pizza itself is quite nice, but I’m not a sweet-tooth person, and even the very light sweet flavour of typical roasting meat can disturb my taste.
The last pieces we had were ’Florence’. Basically, it is similar to the classic ’Pepperoni’, but the pepperoni has been replaced by Parma ham. If I was not so full after everything else, I think this would be among my favourites.
We concluded our lunch with a creamy cheese cake, which was a great match with a cup of TWG tea. Or you can choose from many other mouth-watering cakes displayed in the glass counter -- lava, red velvet, tiramisu, chocolate mousse and yoghurt mousse. Match these together with one of various Vietnamese or Italian coffees, smoothies or granita -- a semi-frozen Sicilian dessert made from sugar, water and various flavourings. — VNS
Add: Level 1, Vincom Center Nguyễn Chí Thanh, 54 Nguyễn Chí Thanh Street
Hours: All day dining and coffee shop
Price: from VNĐ55,000 for food; from VNĐ50,000 for dessert; from VNĐ30,000 for drinks
Comment: Spacious venue, friendly staff, fusion pizza, good cake.