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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
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Critic's review

Sandiso Ngubane

Food
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.

Drinks
There is a wide variety of local wines, bubbly and French champagnes.

Service
Service can, unfortunately, be on the slow side, so getting the waiters’ attention at this popular establishment can sometimes be difficult.

Ambience
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.

And…
It's an ideal spot for large get-togethers.

(September 2016)

Eat Out reviewers dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Click here to read our editorial policy.

  • Ambience
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  • Food
  • 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.

  • 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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  • The most abhorrent service we have ever received. Food took over an hour to arrive, with missing components. The compensation was an assurance that the missing mushrooms would be cooked separately and served as a side dish. After 45minutes this did not materialize. As the restaurant seemed to be closing and there was an attitude encouraging us to leave. The evening was made worse by the absolute lack of communication from the waiter, who more or less ignored us and our concerns were not met with an apology or at least an acknowledgement of fault. For so highly reccommended a restaurant we were utterly shocked at the level of incompetence and indifference, that made the evening quite literally excruciating. Will be at Sawadee down the road next time we feel like Asian.
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  • We decided to go for dinner for my parents' wedding anniversary to Saigon last night as it has a reputation for great food. The food was excellent but unfortunately the service was actually pretty bad. It being a hot night, we asked the waiter if we could open the window and he said he would turn the aircon on instead. It was only for about 5 minutes when another waitress turned it off. When we enquired with our waiter he just said "Oh, the other table complained". No help, no solution. We opened the window but it was still about 27 degrees outside and we were uncomfortable the whole evening. Also, the waiter kept stretching across people at the table to retrieve dishes or place them (which is extremely rude), he also bumped my mother while doing so and didn't apologise. He clearly didn't want to be there. I hope that they can train their staff better in future, although it is unlikely we will want to come back, which is sad as the food was delicious.
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  • What a great experience! We went there on a recommendation for date night. Both my partner and I were impressed with the food and atmosphere and appreciated the opportunity to bring our own bubbly (although they do try to dissuade you by charging R50 corkage ;) The food is suitably priced for the quality, something that can not be said for other restaurants in the area! We will certainly be back!
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  • A great family favourite, and consistently good over a number of years. Try a variety of dishes to experience the various Asian flavours, cubed beef and pot sticker dumplings are amongst our favourites.

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  • What a joy this restaurant is! Food is consistently excellent, waitrons are out the top drawer and the ambience is just great. This restaurant is always a good, reliable choice.

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  • Stopped in today on a recommendation. Had a very nice lunch. Service was quick, food was fresh and flavorful. Dining room is attractive with nice views of Table Mountain. Id been put-off by the neon sing on the building, but decided to give it a try due to the comments of some friends. Im glad that I did, Ill be back!
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  • We get teased endlessly by the staff at Saigon because we have the same meal each time - but its our fix for the week and it works! - and yes we do go there once a week.
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  • We ended up at the Saigon more than once during our week in Cape Town, and we really liked this place. The food is very good, with one or two exceptions. One evening we decided to go for take away, and we were ready to leave with six different dishes in less than 15 minutes!
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  • THE MOST AMAZING PLACE TO GO!I have been to Saigon several times in the last 18 months and every time I am astounded at the fantastic level of service, the food, the value (okay I find the wines uber pricey) for money and the overall welcoming ambience of the restaurant.From the moment you step through the door you are treated with warmth and invited to enjoy yourself at the bar while you rest or go directly to your table.It is a busy restaurant - so waiting an extra moment or two for the gloriously presented and delicious fare is not a train smash. I dont think one can expire from hunger for having to wait a moment or two longer for ones plate.On one occasion I didnt like the smell/taste of a particular part of my dish. It was removed, a replacement brought by the chef himself! He took the time to explain in his very broken English what I had not liked about the previous dish - a different brand of Sesame Oil - and offered me the opportunity to test the dish again.Now, is that not SERVICE with a Capital S?I can only say I recommend this restaurant to everyone I know. My rating would be way above 5 stars.
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  • Although we hadn’t made a booking and dinner was the pleasurable outcome following evening drinks elsewhere, I was thrilled to finally find myself dining at (arguably) Cape Town’s favourite Vietnamese eating spot. The décor is, as per the much- deserved praise, chic with dramatic flair. The staff are friendly and attentive (almost to the point where they may as well take a seat at the table) and the menu is exciting and caters for all, from carnivorous types to the grazers. The criticism I wish to lodge pertains to the unavailability of wines listed on the wine menu. It took us three attempts at selecting a wine before the waiter was able to produce same. That said, the mains of duck and kingklip and accompanying wok-seared vegetables delivered the necessary forgiveness regarding the wine hiccup and I look forward to visiting the restaurant in the future.
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  • I have never had a worse restaurant experience. I made a booking for 8pm, and was only seated at 8,20, as the table was still occupied. Service was incredibly slow, with orders only taken at 8,45. Starters arrived half an hour later at 9,15. Mains only arrived at 10,25 after I had to get up and ask the manager where exactly our order had gone to. During this time the waiter paid us little attention, not even to refill drinks. The manager was not at all apologetic about the immense delay. Although the food was adeuquate, I will not be returning. After complaining to the waiter about the appalling service at the end of the meal, he simply said Were very popular. Its up to you if you want to come back. What an awful night out.
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  • Apart from the food, which was definitely different and tasty, the service could have been better for a restaurant that charges R20 for a beer!
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  • Had a great time. food was good and reasonably price. Waiter was not up to scratch, but that was just luck of the draw. You might have to have your drinks at home though, for at R50 corkage and wine starting at about R100 a bottle, your average customer will think twice before ordering wine. The at your table massage was new to me, but my date thoroughly enjoyed her 5 minutes of pampering. All in all good, will definitely be back.
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  • My French guests enjoyed your food and service. As Cape Townians we will return soon.
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Facilities

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

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