Viet Nam News
By Võ Lệ Hồng
It is not often that we go to a shopping mall when we are hungry.
But these days, food courts in major complexes offer a painless transition from shopping generated hunger to its satiation.
Last week, we were just window-shopping at the Crescent Mall in Phú Mỹ Hưng in HCM City’s District 7 when the hunger pangs began to gnaw at our stomachs. Maybe window-shopping makes one more hungry than actual shopping.
Anyway, we decided to go to the fifth floor of the mall for lunch.
We were in for a surprise. It was not usual food court fare that was on offer, but a fine dining experience at 48 Bistro restaurant.
Already pleased with the ambience and the view (which should be even better at night, looking down at the twinkling Starlight Bridge), we were intrigued on learning that the restaurant offered European dishes with Vietnamese ingredients.
We waylaid a customer who was leaving after his lunch.
Henri Hubert, a creative director and designer, was friendly and ready to talk.
“I’m personally a fan of this restaurant. The cuisine is very appropriate to the culture of French gastronomy. As you know, in French cuisine, these things are very important: ingredients, presentation, creativity, decoration and flavour. 48 Bistro does all that very well.”
Henri informed us that the foie gras (VNĐ415,000) with a personal touch was from the chef would be an excellent choice. The fatty goose liver dish mingles well with the sweetness of the apple vinegar sauce, he said.
“I also like the roast chicken with mushroom and rosemary sauce, a fabulous French seasonal recipe (VND105,000). I love to eat it as a side, as the main dish is accompanied with green salad or rice with French fries. The meal is worth your money.”
Our appetite whetted by Henri’s comments, we began our lunch with pumpkin soup (VNĐ48,000) with aromatic cream, following it with steak (VNĐ165,000), sliced thin and flat. The steak was baked and fried, combined with special spices, oil and onions. Sliced large potatoes, boiled and then fried, were accompanied by colourful vegetables.
The food was delicious.
Western cuisine has become popular in Hồ Chí Minh City, but he tries to be different by preparing the dishes with Vietnamese ingredients and making them more suitable to Vietnamese taste, restaurant owner and chef Lý Anh Tú told us.
He said his love of French cuisine was rooted in the days of working in upscale restaurants at the New World Saigon Hotel, Hội An Resort and La Taverne.
Tú said he wanted to remove the notion among many Vietnamese that Western food is fattening and expensive. He said he uses Vietnamese ingredients instead of importing them, including Vietnamese beef instead of beef imported from Australia. He also uses freshwater fish like red tilapia or snakeheads.
The use of spices from central Việt Nam gives his food a taste that appeals to both Western and local customers, the chef said.
Sauces are the essence of Western dishes, so Tú uses Vietnamese herbs and spices to create them. We would recommend the lemon and water mint sauce very highly.
To suit the Vietnamese palate, he makes his seasonings richer, and heats chili pepper to a level that reduces the amount of fat and butter, he said.
Tú not only cares about the quality and taste of the dishes, but is also meticulous in presenting them. For instance, dark food is served in plates with a light background and vice versa. Attention is also paid to matching the colours of vegetables and fruits.
We will say this with confidence: You don’t have to get hungry shopping or window shopping to enjoy the food at Bistro 48. Just walk in directly. You are in for a treat.
Bistro 48 is Tú’s third restaurant, the others located at the Diamond Plaza Centre and on 48-50-52 Lê Thị Riêng Street. VNS
Bistro 48 Restaurant
5th floor, Crescent Mall Center, Phú Mỹ Hưng, District 7, HCM City
Business hours: From 10am to 10pm
Comments: Good European fare, reasonably priced