In the ever evolving spirit of the Fairmont Nile City’s gastronomical offerings, their Vietnamese restaurant, Saigon, is on Mondays pioneering a new eating style. Last week's opening brought together a mix of food critics, society celebrities and friends for a perusal of the restaurant's variety of tiny eats and glasses of wine.
The kitchen is "open"–a glass-enclosed cafeteria-style kitchen, set up with Vietnamese and Egyptian chefs putting together shrimp cakes and fish balls in the back and frying them in front of guests. For LE188 one can sample from a number of "stations": salads, soups and spring rolls, toast with foie gras, and multi-faceted desserts in one-person-sized portions.
Highlights included the shrimp spring rolls and the shrimp cakes, although there was a guest-wide consensus that the deep fried options were a few too many for what appeared to be a somewhat health conscious bunch. Other reactions included a strong liking for the soups, an interest in the Caesar salad, and a liking for what appeared to be a particularly overindulgent chocolate soufflé.
All in all, critics seemed impressed with the ambiance, above and beyond the food itself–the very traditional street-side Vietnamese fare was considered by former visitors to the streets of Vietnam to be, in any case, inimitable in a 5-star hotel setting. The raw salmon rolls were lighter and more appealing, and the French-style fare was definitely a highlight of the evening.
Desserts were not for the faint of heart–lemon grass and breaded mango were tossed in with poppy seed-coated custard and pineapple crepes.
Suggested outing: Gather a group of friends and book the high table at the back. Be hungry, and prepare yourself for a tasting frenzy!