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Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant (Cape Town)

Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant (Cape Town)
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Cost
R120 avg main meal
Ambience
Classic elegance
Food
Asian, Sushi
Payment
Amex, Mastercard, Visa
500

Critic's review

Sue-Anne Allen

Food
When visiting Saigon restaurant, one is assured of an authentic Asian experience. The extensive menu ensures that there is something for everyone. Bold flavours and tastes means that the palate is never bored. It is equally great for both intimate dinners as well as for larger celebrations. The cuisine is not limited to Vietnamese cuisine and offers Thai, Chinese and Japanese options as well, including sushi. The starters menu includes a selection of spring rolls, dumplings and tapas style dishes. The crisp round prawn toasts, served piping hot with a delicious centre and sweet chilli garlic dipping sauce, is a must try, as is the grilled beef fillet shiitake skewer, served with a ginger dipping sauce. The meat is perfectly prepared, tasty and so tender it almost falls apart. Make sure not to go to heavy on the sauce as it can be on the sweet side, and you do not want to overpower the taste of the cut nor the earthiness of the mushrooms. Main dishes are divided into meat, seafood and poultry categories, and there is also the addition of salads, curries, rice and noodle dishes as well as a good vegetarian selection.

For mains, the caramelised pepper pork is a standout dish and all time favourite. The slices of tender por, in this well-balanced sweet sauce is a taste sensation, and a side of garlic egg-fried rice is not to be missed, as it is good enough to eat on its own. The chicken chilli ginger dish, whilst fairly common, is particularly good here – the chicken is moist and tender and the delicate balance of flavours, combined with the crunch of cashew nuts, makes for a satisfying meal. Another standout is the tender pork ribs in honey, where the sweetness is perfectly offset by the sour taste of tamarind sauce.

Drinks
The wine list features a fairly wide selection of varietals and also offers local bubbles and French Champagne. Wines are fairly well priced, with a corkage coming in at R50 a bottle.

Service
Bookings are handled efficiently and staff are always accommodating. On busier evenings it can sometimes be difficult to get the waiters’ attention, but the food is served fairly quickly, with no lengthy waiting times.

Ambience
Dark wood and accents of red are in line with the Vietnamese theme and feel. If you’re sitting further back in the restaurant, you’re privy to the hustle and bustle of the semi open kitchen. The vibe of trendy Kloof street can been seen and felt through the large wraparound window on the one side and suits the busy nature of this popular Cape Town dining space.

And …
For dessert, opt for either the deep-fried banana or deep-fried ice cream – both bursting with flavour, but also take note that the batter is quite heavy and filling.

  • Ambience
  • Service
  • Food
  • Sue-Ann Allen

    Food
    When visiting Saigon restaurant, one is assured of an authentic Asian experience. The extensive menu ensures that there is something for everyone. Bold flavours and tastes means that the palate is never bored. It is equally great for both intimate dinners as well as for larger celebrations. The cuisine is not limited to Vietnamese cuisine and offers Thai, Chinese and Japanese options as well, including sushi. The starters menu includes a selection of spring rolls, dumplings and tapas style dishes. The crisp round prawn toasts, served piping hot with a delicious centre and sweet chilli garlic dipping sauce, is a must try, as is the grilled beef fillet shiitake skewer, served with a ginger dipping sauce. The meat is perfectly prepared, tasty and so tender it almost falls apart. Make sure not to go to heavy on the sauce as it can be on the sweet side, and you do not want to overpower the taste of the cut nor the earthiness of the mushrooms. Main dishes are divided into meat, seafood and poultry categories, and there is also the addition of salads, curries, rice and noodle dishes as well as a good vegetarian selection.
    For mains, the caramelised pepper pork is a standout dish and all time favourite. The slices of tender por, in this well-balanced sweet sauce is a taste sensation, and a side of garlic egg-fried rice is not to be missed, as it is good enough to eat on its own. The chicken chilli ginger dish, whilst fairly common, is particularly good here – the chicken is moist and tender and the delicate balance of flavours, combined with the crunch of cashew nuts, makes for a satisfying meal. Another standout is the tender pork ribs in honey, where the sweetness is perfectly offset by the sour taste of tamarind sauce.

    Drinks
    The wine list features a fairly wide selection of varietals and also offers local bubbles and French Champagne. Wines are fairly well priced, with a corkage coming in at R50 a bottle.

    Service
    Bookings are handled efficiently and staff are always accommodating. On busier evenings it can sometimes be difficult to get the waiters’ attention, but the food is served fairly quickly, with no lengthy waiting times.

    Ambience
    Dark wood and accents of red are in line with the Vietnamese theme and feel. If you’re sitting further back in the restaurant, you’re privy to the hustle and bustle of the semi open kitchen. The vibe of trendy Kloof street can been seen and felt through the large wraparound window on the one side and suits the busy nature of this popular Cape Town dining space.

    And …
    For dessert, opt for either the deep-fried banana or deep-fried ice cream – both bursting with flavour, but also take note that the batter is quite heavy and filling.
    October 2015

  • Food 
    The menu is arranged by meat/seafood category, with additional slots for starters (including skewers and dumplings), soups, curries and a brief rice and noodle section, plus there’s a sushi counter in the restaurant. While the chefs are Vietnamese and traditional dishes and flavours of that country do feature, they sit alongside Thai, Chinese and Japanese options that move the menu into fusion territory. (But the waiter can help you to select authentic meals, if that’s what you’re after.) For some of the menu items you can pick the heat by choosing one, two or three red chillies.

    Starters of round prawn toasts arrive hot and crunchy, as they should be, with a tasty interior. The duck spring rolls are texturally great, but we find the flavour of the meat slightly overwhelmed by the sweet hoisin sauce drizzled liberally over the rolls. You can concoct your our own dipping sauce with the white gourds of deliciously tangy fish sauce and Vietnamese soy sauce on the table, as well as the more salty Japanese Kikkoman. It’s impossible to resist yet another starter and our choice of the lemongrassy tom yum soup delivers the goods, exhibiting the perfect hot and sour flavour that puckers the mouth pleasurably, with bopping prawns, mushrooms and tomato chunks.

    For mains, the recommended Vietnamese caramelised pepper pork is an intriguing surprise. Anticipating something sticky and/or crunchy, we are served slivers of pork in a golden sauce instead. While tender and uniquely flavoured, it’s no match for the star of the show, shaky beef (more commonly known as shaking beef because of how the meat is tossed in the wok to sear it). In this dish, beautifully done cubes of beef fillet and a delicious lime-soy-garlic-vinegar sauce are served on a bed of green beans and leaves. As a side, we order a portion of steamed rice in a terracotta pot, which is big enough for two to share. Other options include a tempting barbecue duck with orange or plum sauce, tempura prawns and pork ribs in honey.

    For dessert, the Vietnamese coconut flan is smooth, creamy and light, with a slightly bitter syrup balancing its sweetness and mild coconut cream topping. Other options include the popular deep-fried ice cream, deep-fried banana and chocolate mousse.

    Drinks 
    Sporting five or six options per varietal and useful descriptions, the wine list is comprehensive enough and pretty affordable, though if you want only one glass your choices are much more limited. Corkage is R50 for local wines and R100 for bubblies.

    Service
    We receive a warm welcome from front-of-house staff, and waiters perform their duties efficiently and without fuss. Cutlery and crockery is cleared and replaced with each course, complimentary ice-and-lemon tap water is topped up discreetly, and things move as quickly as you’d like them to.

    Ambience 
    The spacious dining room has spotless wooden floors and sleek black furniture, with touches of gold and red to bring the Vietnamese theme home. A panel of red Perspex allows diners to view the hustle-bustle of the kitchen through a seemingly apocalyptic haze, but all is ordered and smart and well timed. The enormous curving window showcases the view over the city bowl, mountain and Kloof Street, making a pre-sunset dinner particularly spectacular.

    The verdict 
    Saigon offers something for everyone. The diverse menu, swift service and elegant setting make it a must-visit on Kloof Street.

    (July 2014)

  • Food
    The spot for authentic Vietnamese in the city, Saigon has been dishing up fresh fare for decades, and is deservedly popular. Start off with crystal spring rolls, crunchily filled with prawns, mint and basil, while mains options are hearty and excite the palate. For some drama, the seafood hot plate arrives sizzling at your table, is flambéed and then doused in a heavenly coconut and peanut sauce. For those in a fiery mood, the duck and butternut curry is richly comforting, while dishes such as caramelised pepper pork and chicken cashew nut always satisfy. Their sushi deserves a special mention: servings are generous and expertly made. For dessert, get your order for the deep-fried ice cream in early.

    Wine
    The wine list is fairly standard, although prices are on the steep side.

    Service
    The service is slick and informed, and the pace is rapid in this always-full spot. You’ll need to make a booking any night of the week.

    Ambience
    Think dark laquered pillars, waiters in eastern dress, candlelight and a hot red perspex window onto the kitchen. The view of Table Mountain is spectacular.

    And...
    The barman makes a mean martini. (LvA, October 2012)
  • Paul Duncan

    The staff here deserve a medal for attentiveness. You could go every week for a year and never order the same thing. While the food gets better, Saigon never changes. Visit for a vibey weekend dinner and order calamari, avocado and mint salad with a wasabi dressing. (Eat Out magazine 2014)

User reviews

  • All over nothing more than an average experience, for an above average price. The food was authentic, granted, but overpriced, with very little atmosphere and typical Cape Town service - slow. It wasn't a bad experience nor am I regretful, I just wouldn't return.
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  • We visited for the first time last night and I was really delighted by the food. Very fresh, not that expensive. I shared the Vietnamese pork chop with my son and there was plenty to go round. I also had the vegetarian wrap which was beautifully presented with a lot of fresh spinach leaves which act as the wrap - perfect for banters! It was full of flavour and delicious!
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  • The food and service was great.You will see me there again.
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  • Saigon is one of our all tiime favourite restaurants. The food is always delicious, the staff fantastic and the service excellent. This restaurant is consistently good. Gino, Bernard and the rest of the team, you deserve to be recognised as one of the Best Everyday Eateries.
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  • We had a fantastic experience - a walk-in table of 8 on a Sunday evening was no problem to accommodate, service was quick, non-intrusive but very knowledgeable and accommodating. The waitress had clearly tried all of the dishes, and went out of her way to discuss menu options and modify orders to each diner's taste. The fried starters were unremarkable, but the fresh ones were tasty and authentic. For mains, the duck in plum sauce and 'angry duck' dishes were absolute stand-outs. We will certainly be back!
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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Booking required
  • Child friendly
  • Eat Out reviewed
  • Functions
  • Licensed
  • Parking
  • Takeaways
  • Vegetarian

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