Friday, June 11, 2010

Rolls and French Cafes - Saigon

This is my third trip to Vietnam, second to Saigon.

And although the two cities look so different, there's a certain air about the eating scene that reminds me a little bit of Melbourne.

Yes, they have street food and the streets themselves look a lot like Manila's rather dusty roads that are forever suspended in development and roadworks, but if you search through everything, you often find adorable little cafes, different, but yet, similar to Melbourne.

They're just a little more french here.

People always seem to be surprised that there's good French food or a lot of French-styled cafes. Why should this be so surprising though? They were colonized by the French for some time. There are many hidden faces of Asia beneath the clearly obvious. As my friend says, and even though she is Vietnamese, she talks with the experience of someone who has traveled and had lots of bread, but Vietnam probably has some of the best bread in all of Asia. I've sampled a bit and can certainly attest to it, maybe that's why David has such a love for eating bread...(he's Vietnamese).

So anyway, the above picture is of Kita Cafe, which I popped into, in between meetings, as my friend had given me a bunch of business cards of places I might like so I just chose one at random. Adorable little place, nice vibe, cute french cafe chic music playing in the background and certainly popular with the expats who came through in a steady stream through the door for coffee or nibbles.

Yes that's my laptop trying to peek in my photo. Another thing I love about Saigon, especially in District 1 where all the hotels are?

FREE WIFI EVERYWHERE! And most places don't seem (I hope not anyway!) to mind if you spend hours parked at one location, there's usually enough space for more customers.

Since I already had another place in mind for lunch, I just had a fresh pomelo, orange and lime juice. Incredibly refreshing.

Now, I don't mean to fawn all over French cafes in Vietnam, I just can't help it since cafes appeal to my aesthetic. I do of course, love local food as well though. One of my favourite things in the cuisine are the rolls and I knew I wanted me some mustard leaf rolls before I left.

And with that, off I hopped to Wrap and Roll.

It's a little bit slick, modern and franchise-y, but I wasn't keen on lugging my laptop around, whilst in heels, in jeans and a shirt, in weather that turns me into a melting ice-cream stick. And I knew I could get mustard rolls here, I was brought here for dinner on my previous visit to Saigon in March.

The menu is very tourist and foreigner friendly, English words and most importantly, pictures!

I very eagerly ordered my mustard rolls, these are like the traditional rice paper rolls with rice vermicelli, prawns and pork on the inside, but on the outside is wrapped in a mustard leaf. It has the mild taste and aroma of mustard, which is a curious palette sensation, but one that I enjoy very much.

One fairly significant thing in the Vietnamese cuisine is the sauces. There's all sorts of sauces for absolutely everything, even the noodles have their own specific sauce. The mustard leaf rolls were had with a delicious peanut sauce, although I've been having a thicker and far more indulgent one back at my friend's house. This was still pretty good though.

It really is so sad to eat alone sometimes since I can't really order that much at the end of the day. Or I can and just eat it all and roll around town afterwards! I opted to also try at least one more dish and got the steamed rice paper rolls with steamed fish inside. This was a lovely surprise, especially when one eats the end with the little piece of mint sticking out. It was nice to have a warm roll and the fish was soft and buttery.

This dish was had with fish sauce, which is used very commonly with a lot of dishes, it comes up everywhere, but hey, why not. It's yummy!

I wasn't planning on dessert but...I couldn't tear my eyes away from the sweet bananas in coconut cream on the menu and figured, hey I'm not coming back here so this might be my only chance to eat it.

So ordered I did, a lovely warm dessert with exceptionally sweet bananas and small sago pearls (I think). The peanuts added a nice flavour and texture to the dish too.

There are multiple stores for Wrap and Roll and whilst I initially thought the space looked really small, I discovered there's actually a really nice seating area upstairs as well. I also hear from a friend who had a meeting with Wrap and Roll to potentially bring the franchise to other places in Asia, that the CEO is planning on opening one soon in Sydney...hmmm, as if I don't have enough excuses stacking up for me to visit Sydney more often....

Kita Coffee
39-41 Nguyen Hue
District 1
Ho Chi Minh City

Wrap and Roll
62 Hai Ba Trung St
District 1
Ho Chi Minh City

1 comment:

  1. Hi:)
    I could really love that place, have a good day:)