Disclosure: I was invited to dine as a guest of the restaurant
The day after this dinner, I knocked on my boss’s door at 11am and asked if she wanted anything from Laneway Greens, since I was going to grab a green juice as I was feeling a bit run down.
She looked at me.
“No Ashley. You’re hungover.”
Urk. Got me there.
But good food, good wine…good company. Being hungover on a Wednesday was only natural thing. Surely.
Saigon Sally is a sensual little lady, hiding off on a side street perpendicular to Chapel Street. Keep an eye out for the red light, lively beats and great smells wafting out the doorway to find her.
She’s dark and a little bit of a mish mash; dim lights, gorgeous wall mural, sanded down tables, white brick walls.
We settle down on to our table and are swiftly greeted with a ‘You got Girlfriend Vietnam?’ cocktail, a dangerously delicious mix of Tanqueray gin, junmai sake, lime, cucumber, mint and jasmine tea. Sweet, but not overly so, and so refreshing. I want these all the time, especially through all of summer!
But before we get too drunk on cocktails, fried chicken ribs make their way to our table, with gocuchang, sesame, garlic and siracha mayo. Crispy batter, succulent chicken, seasoned well. What more do you want to stuff your face with?
In contrast, the kingfish ceviche served with pomelo, green papaya, shallots and chilli on betel leaf is a lovely refreshing mouthful, with a nice array of texture thrown in for good mix.
The seared scallops with green curry, apple and salmon roe smell amazing, and have me tipping the shell so I could slurp the rich coconut broth from the bottom. I loved the crunch of the green apple as well, slightly tart, slightly sweet, just lovely with the perfectly cooked scallop.
The wagyu beef tartare with young coconut, Vietnamese mint, perilla and puffed rice paper was simply, simply stunning. Beautifully presented, gorgeously tender, and such an experience on top of the crunchy, crunchy puffed up rice paper, which in my opinion just accentuated the tartare’s texture. Although it was a little messy to eat!
The DIY Banh Xeo Taco was quite cute, with a serving of prawn, pork, coconut, turmeric, bean shoots and spring onions; however DIY always means it’s a bit of a mess to eat (especially after a couple of glasses of wine)!
The crispy barramundi sat in a spicy pho broth with lettuce, clams and lemongrass, beautifully aromatic and cooked well. I particularly enjoyed picking out the clams, sweet but also spicy from the broth.
Sticky lamb ribs with mandarin, oyster sauce, fennel and star anise hide under an enormous flowery salad. The meat just pulls clean off the bone, and just melts in the mouth, a beautiful emulsion of fattiness, sweet and just a touch tangy.
Bia Can Chicken is a whole roasted chicken cooked with Bia Hanoi in a Hainanese style. Don’t make the mistake of trying to drink that can of beer, it’s actually a broth to be poured over your roasted chicken! Herbaceous, salty enough, the chicken was tender, but I don’t recall it being super succulent and didn’t leave as much as an impression flavour-wise as I might have thought it would. Although having said that we were fed a lot of wine…
The pumpkin and tofu with coconut roasted pumpkin, crisp tofu, lemongrass, taro and watercress is simply an art piece when it arrives on the table. On top of that, delicious. I think this came out at the same time as the chicken…and although it was supposed to be for the vegetarian on the table…I certainly got enthusiastic about it too. Beautiful crunchy textures from the tofu and taro, with the creamy and beautifully savoury sweet pumpkin…yum!
Honestly, by the time we finished the mains, I’m surprised head chef Adrian Li hadn’t kicked us all out (or at least our end of the table). Seriously, put I-Hua and I next to each other, provide us both with ample amounts of wine and you’ll hear us from a block or two away. (Sorry other people at Saigon Sally!)
But Adrian was good natured, laughing with us (or maybe at us) as he told us about his dishes.
Looks like a sandwich, but this is actually the Tira-mi-Sally, and she’s sweet; macaron, Vietnamese coffee parfait, condensed milk and peanut brittle all in just a couple of mouthfuls. The Vietnamese coffee parfait was lovely and rich, and I loved the texture of the macaron, it wasn’t the usual macaron type of texture, there was a little more density to it, but it was still light when paired with everything else.
But now really, the show stopper for dessert was the Dame blanche, bounty chocolate meringue shell, coconut ice cream, coconut cremeux and molten chocolate was another sculptural masterpiece. Although we were definitely feeling a bit of tummy stretch going on, I could not resist continuing to reach back for the meringue shell coated in chocolate, light, but sweet with that delightful texture that meringues have when it crumbles in your mouth.
Obviously, a roaring good night. Literally. Saigon Sally is described as the ‘older, more sophisticated sister’ out of Hanoi Hannah and Tokyo Tina, and she really is. Creatively and beautifully plated food with big and interesting flavours. Great for dinner with the beau, or a long and boozy cocktail session with the girls. Make your pick!
2 Duke Street