If you’re after authentic Asian fare in Cape Town, look no further than longstanding favourite Saigon Restaurant, located on buzzing Kloof Street. The large menu – predominantly Vietnamese – boasts a wide selection of dishes that extends to Japanese, Chinese and Thai foods.
For starters we opt for the magnificent duck spring rolls, which are fried to a golden crisp and have tender and tasty duck on the inside. The pan-fried Japanese lamb potstickers have a slightly crisp outside, and are filled with mildly spiced ground lamb. They’re served in fours, which are perfect for sharing. There are also vegetarian options featuring the likes of Vietnamese-style crystal spring rolls.
The mains are categorically organised by beef, pork, vegetarian, poultry, seafood and rice and noodles. The famous ginger fish lives up to the hype: it’s fresh, fragrant and flavourful. The fish is cooked perfectly with a crispy outside, is slightly sticky, and seasoned with a harmonious combination of plenty of ginger, some chilli and fish sauce. Sticky-fried rice makes for a perfect accompaniment.
Carnivores can delight in the generous portion of lamb chops, which is tender, delicious and served with a freshly grilled mielie. The vast menu also stars fragrant soups; yellow, green and red curries; baked aubergine; and a fiercely named dish called ‘angry duck’, which is apparently indicative of how hot it is.
Round off your meal with the Vietnamese coconut flan. It’s light, smooth and creamy – great for sharing (or not!).
There’s a small selection of cocktails, bubbles and a wide selection of local red and white wines.
Although it’s busy, the waitrons are attentive, friendly and well-versed on the menu.
If you’re lucky to be seated near the window, you can feast your eyes on panoramic views of Table Mountain – thanks to the restaurant’s glass façade. It strikes the perfect balance between casual and formal, and the dark wooden interiors adds warmth.
They have a separate sushi menu, which includes everything from sashimi and nigiri, to california rolls and salmon roses.
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Saigon, which shares its name with Vietnam’s largest city (also known as Ho Chi Mihn City), will win you over at the first bite. The food is phenomenal, combining Asian flavours not limited to Vietnamese, but stretching to Thai, Chinese and Japanese, with a rather extensive menu that includes sushi and mouth-watering dim sum. The spinach, garlic, chives and cream dim sum, for example, will have you craving more and more from a menu you can approach tapas-style, but maybe it’s best to reserve space for their outstanding mains.
These include yellow chicken curry, prawn litchi green curry, duck butternut red curry, and a yellow vegetable curry. Baked aubergine with miso, ginger, sweet soya and toasted sesame seeds is just one option for vegetarians, as is their spicy tofu and wok-fried spicy vegetable noodles.
For an Asian flavour experience, Saigon is definitely one of Cape Town’s best for those who love food that perfectly strikes a delicate balance of contrasting flavours in a single dish.
For the meat lovers, a variety of pork, beef and poultry dishes are bound to please the adventurous palate, with tropical flavours like slow roasted duck, which you have the option of having with a plum or orange sauce.
There is a wide variety of local wines, bubbly and French champagnes.
Service can, unfortunately, be on the slow side, so getting the waiters’ attention at this popular establishment can sometimes be difficult.
Located on vibey Kloof Street, that feel spills over into the restaurant as you overlook the street. At the back, you can witness the busy kitchen, but overall, from anywhere in the restaurant you can feel the semi-casual nature of the Saigon dining experience. Dark wood and deep reds accentuate the Asian feel.
It's an ideal spot for large get-togethers.
Eat Out reviewers dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Click here to read our editorial policy.