Wednesday, August 15 2018

VietNamNews

Fresh French flavours in HCM City

Update: January, 28/2018 - 09:00
Cosy: An outdoor corner of the restaurant, tucked away in a quiet area of District 2. — VNS Photo The Nomad Quynh
Viet Nam News

By The Nomad Quynh

 
Ask any French food expert living in HCM City to name the best French restaurants, and you will probably hear the name La Villa mentioned. Opened in 2011 by chef Thierry Mounon, it has consistently presented superb food and service, despite growing competition.

Tucked away in a quiet street in the expat area of Thảo Điền Ward, District 2, the restaurant seems to be packed even on a weekday, although the location is far from the city centre and prices are not cheap. It aims to give customers the best experience of French gastronomy in Việt Nam, using high-quality local and imported ingredients. The restaurant is located in an old colonial French villa, with spacious areas indoors and outdoors.

There are a-la-carte and course menus available. I highly recommend the course menus in order to taste all the best creations from chef Mounon. There are four different courses with prices ranging from VNĐ1,090,000 - 2,390,000. There is another small course menu at VNĐ890,000, but only for lunch. And for an extra VNĐ1,000,000, diners can add wine-pairing options. My partner and I chose two different course menus – Menu de la Villa (VNĐ1,090,000) and Menu de la Villa Gourmet (VNĐ1,450,000) so that we could try different dishes.

First we were served with some Amuse Bouche. This term, in French, means “mouth amusers”, which are often presented as starters in many course meals in French restaurants. As the name suggests, it normally includes several small, bite-sized offerings in order to give customers a glimpse of the chef’s creativeness. At La Villa, our first amuse bouche came with Fromage de Tête (head cheese in English) with pork, seafood gougère (choux pastry), broccoli soup and zucchini cake with aioli sauce. These were great starters.

We continued with another amuse bouche from Menu de la Villa Gourmet - Mini Caillette Provencale, which is pork meat, pork liver and spinach stuffed with fresh goat cheese and tomato, basil sauce. You should enjoy this dish as all the tastes balance well with each other.

Our first real courses came next, which were Foie Gras Terrine (Menu de la Villa) and Crab Ravioles with foie gras sauce (Menu de la Villa Gourmet). Foie gras terrine is one of the things I love most about French gastronomy, so I have tried it in many places. La Villa’s was one of the best I have had. I can’t praise it highly enough.  The taste was so rich yet subtle and not overwhelming, so heavenly that I must apologise for the photo of half-eaten food! 

The Crab Ravioles with Foie Gras Sauce was great as well, however if I had to pick my favourite, the terrine would still win my heart. Be careful, the accompanying bread is also nice, but don’t eat too much, you need to save your stomach for more dishes.

Coming next was Menu de la Villa Gourmet’s second course – Pan-Seared Sea Scallops. I’m a fan of scallops as well, and here, together with different kinds of sauces, it was another dish cooked to perfection.

Mouth amusers: Off to a great start with some Amuse Bouche. From left to right: Fromage de Tête (head cheese) with pork, Seafood gougère (savoury choux pastry), Broccoli soup and Zucchini cake with aioli sauce. — VNS Photo The Nomad Quynh
Juicy duck: A perfectly cooked, medium rare pan-fried French duck breast. — VNS Photo The Nomad Quynh
And more: The cheese platter. — VNS Photo The Nomad Quynh

For the main course, Menu de la Villa offered two options – Pan-fried French Duck Breast or Grilled Sea Bass fillet, and I opted for the duck breast, medium rare. Meanwhile, for Menu de la Villa Gourmet it was Black Angus Australian Rossini Beef Tenderloin, which my partner also chose medium rare. It came with a small pot of pot-au-feu (French beef stew). The beef tenderloin was as perfect as a steak could be, but I was really impressed with the duck breast. It was perhaps one of the best pan-fried duck breasts I’ve had, so soft, tender and nicely seasoned with a perfect sauce to compliment it. I enjoyed this dish until the very last bite.

Before dessert, we were presented with a cheese trolley of about 15 types of goat, cow and sheep cheese. The list varies often depending on the availability. Some examples are Epoisses, Langres, Comte, Brie, Camembert, Reblochon, Roquefort, Fourme d’Ambert blue cheese, Crottin, Banon, Livarot, and Valencay. Eat as much as you want, and go for a second helping if you feel like it. The cheeses can also be served with nuts and jam. I find cheese goes really well with fig jam. If you are not familiar with French course meals, you might find yourself quite full at this point. My advice: Eat slowly, savour the food and wine, and don’t eat too much bread.

That was the end of our savoury dishes and as someone with a sweet tooth, the last course – dessert – was something I was really looking forward to. Menu de la Villa offered pistachio and raspberry éclair, and for Menu de la Villa Gourmet it was chocolate pastille. Both came with scoops of different ice-cream. They did not disappoint. I enjoyed them both, especially the éclair, as its light taste was really refreshing after such a big meal.

Upon finishing this last course, we were served with infusion tea, digestif and more complimentary dessert, which included macarons, biscuits, mousse and chocolate cakes. The highlights were the macarons which were well made, not too sweet. It was the perfect end to our lovely meal.

This was one of our best dining experiences in HCM City. The total bill came to VNĐ3,560,000 including drinks, which was not cheap, but worth it for our special occasion. La Villa is so committed to quality, from food to service. That’s why after seven years, it has remained one of HCM City’s best fine dining restaurants. VNS

La Villa French Restaurant

Address: 14 Ngô Quang Huy Street, Thảo Điền Ward, District 2, HCM City

Tel: 028 3898 2082, reservation recommended

Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 11.45 to 13.30 and 18.30 to 21.30.

                            Sunday closed.

Comment: One of the best fine-dining French restaurants in HCM City. Great for a special occasions

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