Viet Nam News
Võ Lệ Hồng
If you want to eat French food in HCM City, it is not difficult to find restaurants that offer authentic fare. French food is part of French culture which UNESCO acknowledged as an intangible cultural heritage in 2010.
Some French gourmets recently asked me to join them at Le Corto Restaurant to try French food.
Le Corto, with its elegant classical décor, is located in the street behind the Saigon Opera House. Sakal Phoeung is the chef and half owner of the restaurant which served a meal to French President Francois Hollande last August.
Sakal is of Cambodian descent but grew up in France, and has been a professional chef for over 22 years in restaurants and upscale hotels.
He is president of the Escoffier Vietnam Association and corporate chef and beverages manager at Annam Fine Food. From 2012 to 2016 he was executive chef at Sofitel Plaza Saigon.
The friendly chef clearly has great creative flair and a passion for food.
Interestingly, my friends asked me to try the same dishes served to the French president.
We were so excited when the first dish arrived: It was a work of art, looking as it did like a large rock with colourful geological seams in the ocean surrounded by green islands.
It is fresh raw sea scallop and marinated salmon covered by a mixture of avocado with lemon juice, wasabi and tabasco. When I put a piece in my mouth, I felt an explosion of flavours.
There was foie gras terrine, a traditional French delicacy, on crispy butter sandwich that blended like a beautiful orchestra.
The deliciousness of the dish was heightened by the French wine.
We then got guinea fowl leg with morel cooked in a vacuum bag over low heat. The flavour of white wine and chopped shallot made the very soft meat delicious and we ate it with crushed potato with salt, pepper and butter. All seem to break up in your mouth and leave a delicious taste on your tongue.
For dessert we had meringue shell and Đà Lạt strawberry cake embellished with cold red fruit, which had been meticulously made and arranged to create a good looking form with different flavors.
After polishing off the meal, I could see why people say cooking French food is like performing a solemn ritual.
Hollande’s meal cost VNĐ1.2 million (US$52) per person.
Each dish at Le Corto was an art work -- with the taste to match -- clearly the result of a meticulous and creative process.
I later found out on social networks that many customers also raved about the quality of the service and thought the food was excellent value for the money. – VNS
Le Corto Restaurant
5D Nguyễn Siêu, District 1, HCMC
Phone: 08 38220671
Hours: from 10am-11pm
Comment: Excellent food, value for money