Sunday, March 10, 2013

Seven courses with wines at La Villa, Ho Chi Minh's most romantic restaurant



For our first evening in Ho Chi Minh for a weekend of arts, food and shopping, literally fresh off the plane, we hied off to La Villa, in the exptratriate neighborhood of District 2, for a degustation dinner.

Scroll down to read more...



THE RESTAURANT'S FULL ON A FRIDAY

We'd needed to book well in advance to get a very nice table; and thank goodness we did, as the place was completely full last Friday night.

There were only four non-resident diners, as far as I could see, and that included myself and my friend, and a European ambassador from Manila and his friend.

SERENDIPITY IN THE MAKING

A variety of amuse bouche to start the evening


I'd just happened to recommend this restaurant to the Ambassador from Europe the night before, at a party in Manila, and -- trusting Travelife -- he'd booked it the very next morning.

We were also on the same flight from Manila to Ho Chi Minh on Friday.

*     *     *


Watch out for our recommendations 
for the best of arts, food and shopping
in Ho Chi Minh
in the
April-May 2013 issue
of TRAVELIFE Magazine


On sale everywhere from April 15

*     *     *


So we saw each other here in the middle of nowhere in Ho Chi Minh, on Friday night, and it sort of felt like being in Manila.

Actually, it's not really the middle of nowhere. It's in an area called District 2 which happens to be one of the best places to live in the city, full of beautiful villas.

A FRENCH DEGUSTATION DINNER
IN HO CHI MINH


Duck foie gras terrine “mi-cuite” with spicy strawberry chutney

served with Sauternes Mouton Cadet 2006


We were easy regarding what to eat, but I definitely wanted to do their tasting course as we'd come all this way. I wanted the best of breed experience, as always.

Well, La Villa Chef Thierry Mounon, who just happens to be the nicest chef this side of the city, stepped up to the plate and created a pretty impressive meal for us. We enjoyed this with a full course of accompanying wines.


DINNER AT LA VILLA 
IN HO CHI MINH




Wheat and prawn salad with shitake mushrooms 
served with Champagne Jacque Picard

Duck foie gras terrine “mi-cuite” with spicy strawberry chutney
served with Sauternes Mouton Cadet 2006

Pan-fried scampi, mizuna salad 
and a capuccino of Beluga Malossol caviar 
served with Sancerre Le Mont Fleuri 2009



Interlude: Soursop sorbet with vodka 

Angus Australian Beef Tenderloin “Rossini” 
pan-fried and served with mashed potatoes with truffles and truffle sauce 
served with Vin de Pays d’Oc, Marius Chapoutier 2010



French cheeses from the trolley 
served with Cahors, Pigmentum 2011

Chocolate Moelleux 
served with Maury Mas Amiel


A LITTLE BIT OF FRANCE IN ASIA


Pan-fried scampi, mizuna salad 

and a capuccino of Beluga Malossol caviar 

served with Sancerre Le Mont Fleuri 2009

Saigon (as old-timers still refer to it) was once a French colony, as you probably know, so the Gallic influence is very strong.

It was for this reason that I had no qualms about having a French dinner in this town. I knew it would be a very good one.

We were well rewarded with our patience, and for the 20-minute ride out of the city.


Chocolate Moelleux 

served with Maury Mas Amiel


Apparently, lots of people going to La Villa for the first time get unnerved by having to take a taxi for so long and having to pass a couple of dark-ish alleys.

But if you're used to sussing your environment in a minute, you'll know immediately that this is a very safe residential neighorboood for diplomats and exptriates.

Fom the car we saw chic delis and wine boutiques, fashion stores I would have loved to stop by in, and establishments like Citibank and the British School.

A RESTAURANT IN A MANSION

La Villa itself is located in a lovely mansion with two-storey high ceilings.

La Villa in Ho Chi Minh

It's not large or drop-dead impressive the way the restaurant Le Planteur in Yangon is (Le Planteur happens to be the best restaurant in Myanmar), but it's a quaint villa that grows on you.

I think the sweetness and charm of Chef Thierry and his wife Tina, who runs the restaurant in a very hands on way in spite of having just given birth to a baby three months ago, has a lot to do with it.

Petit-fours with a thyme infusion tea

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN FINE DINING
IN YANGON AND HO CHI MINH

Le Planteur in Yangon is really chic, dramatic and full of beautiful people -- Mick Jagger and the President of Switzerland had just eaten there before I had -- but La Villa in Saigon wins hands down for its hospitality, and it desserts.

Le Planteur in Yangon
In Le Planteur in Yangon, too, I just happened to order the most expensive thing on the menu then, which was a fillet of Japanese Kitajima beef.

It cost US$65 for this entree alone, which seemed astronomical to me then for a restaurant in Yangon. It was good but not enough to have me dancing around the garden.

AUSSIE BEEF WITH FOIE GRAS


Angus Australian Beef Tenderloin “Rossini” 

pan-fried and served with mashed potatoes with truffles and truffle sauce 

served with Vin de Pays d’Oc, Marius Chapoutier 2010


At La Villa in Ho Chi Minh, we had an Australian beef fillet topped with foie gras.

It was simply delicious, especially when you think about how the prices were also a fraction of the super-branded Kitajima beef.

All in all, a highly recommended experience at La Villa, whether you're in a romantic mood or whether you just want a nice change of scenery from the usual but delicious street food of Vietnam.

As for me, it was a great way to cap another wonderful day in our never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.




www.lavilla-restaurant.com.vn






TRAVELIFE MAGAZINE on Facebook

No comments:

Post a Comment