After its grand opening in September, our undercover reporter visits Le Meridien Saigon and heads to their ninth-floor restaurant, Bamboo Chic. Does it make the five-star grade? Photos by Kyle Phanroy
Confession: I love fusion cuisine. Give me crazy combinations; dazzle me with invention. When an inventive chef combines ingredients and methods from around the world, it’s one of the happy side-effects of globalisation. Growing up in a place that offered every cuisine imaginable, from Afghani to Zairean, broadened my tastes. I also love trying new things.
Le Meridien’s Bamboo Chic aims for the sort of creative novelty I enjoy, and except for one dish, hit the mark. The place has only been open a couple of months and needs some work — so while the service and the decor were what you’d expect of a five-star hotel, it didn’t blow me away. The view overlooking Ton Duc Thang and the Saigon River, however, was excellent.
Choosing a multi-course dinner is always a compromise, along with the possibility of unexpected delights and disappointments.
We started with Peking duck sushi rolls (VND180,000) and green-tea beef tataki (VND260,000) before moving on to five spice foie gras (VND530,000) and crispy pork belly (VND270,000) bulked out by garlic fried rice (VND90,000). We finished by splitting Le Baba, the restaurant’s signature dessert (VND 290,000.)
We ordered two exotic sake cocktails, the green tea matcha and the yakuzaa (VND200,000 each, but two for one that night) as well as a bottle of San Pellegrino (VND120,000 for 500ml.)
I increasingly appreciate creativity in cocktail recipes, and Bamboo Chic served two inspired examples in ceramic bowls, in finest 1970s Hong Kong kung fu movie style. The yakuzaa, alight with fresh green apple and plum juice, floated on the tongue. I noted a solid wine and liquor selection as well.
A Blast of Flavours
The restaurant plates dishes well — beautifying standard sushi rolls isn’t easy. However, the duck rolls were the best dish of the evening, a blast of sweet sauce, rich duck and salty seaweed. The nearly-raw beef tataki was mellow and full, especially with the crunchy garlic slices.
The foie gras pleased us visually. It was the most artfully arranged dish, which was appropriate, since even cruelty-free, it’s a hedonist’s food, although I would have preferred my three seared pieces of smooth, creamy liver to be cooked more thoroughly.
We both enjoyed the pork belly, the play of soft fat against crisped skin and toasted ginger. I thought the cold noodles lacked flavour; my date disagreed.
Our dessert, Le Baba, was a Hibiki-soaked cake with mango slices surrounding matcha Chantilly cream and mint leaves. It was delicate and well-balanced, just my kind of fusion.
Service and Decor
Décor in large hotel chains is often dominated by post-modern corporate whimsy — not too daring, not too conservative. Bamboo Chic fits into this formula. Square glass and steel dominate the restaurant’s couches and the stuffed pink armchairs, the sort of business-class luxury to be found in any metropolis.
Our servers were pleasant but appeared stretched that night despite only having a few customers. We waited nearly 20 minutes for the bill; even the priciest eateries need time for the service to come together.
If you’re going to try Bamboo Chic, go soon. Two unexpected discounts dropped our bill to an affordable VND1.5 million. I’ve only eaten there once, so the novelty may wear off, but I appreciate seeing another restaurant here take culinary chances. Given another month of 30 percent off, I’d definitely go again.
Bamboo Chic is located on the 9th floor of Le Meridien Hotel, 3C Ton Duc Thang, HCMC
Food, Decor and Service are each rated on a scale of 0 to 15.
13 — 15 extraordinary to perfection
10 — 12.5 very good to excellent
8 — 9.5 good to very good
5 — 7.5 fair to good
0 — 4.5 poor to fair
The Word reviews anonymously and pays for all meals