Dinner at our current Vietnamese restaurant of choice in Penang: Saigon House Cuisine on the Sri Bahari Road dining precinct. Opened in mid-2017 by the husband-and-wife team - Penangite, Michael Tan, and Saigonite, Laurent Nguyen, the nifty family restaurant offered an amazing plethora of Vietnamese street snacks, like those I’d had at in Hue, Vietnam, last year at Bà Đỏ, besides the more complex Vietnamese dishes, some of which needed advance booking.
We started off with an appetizer platter which consisted of: chả giò trái cây hải sản (crisp spring roll with passionfruit, mango, apple, pineapple and shrimp filling); gỏi cuốn (fresh spring rolls); chả giò (crisp-fried spring rolls); and chạo tôm (shrimp mousse on sugarcane)
Gỏi rau tiến vua tôm thịt (Vietnamese king’s vegetable salad, with shrimps and pork-belly)
Like many salads we’d had in Vietnam, it’s served with crisp rice crackers:
Trứng vịt lộn (duck foetus egg) a delicacy in Vietnam, as well as the Philippines.
Whilst the Filipinos consume this with a dash of vinegar and a sprinkle of salt, the Vietnamese have theirs with a sprig of Vietnamese mint (rau ram) and flavoured salt.
Bánh bèo nóng (Vietnamese water-rice cakes) - I love these to a fault: steamed saucer-shaped rice cakes, topped with finely-chopped dried shrimp, scallions and crisp pork-crackling.
Bánh khọt (Vietnamese mini savoury pancakes) - these delicate little crepe-like hors d’oeuvres were topped with minced pork & shrimp, and went perfectly with the nước chấm dip.
Bánh ướt chả lụa (rice noodle sheets, topped with fried shallots, and chả lụa/Vietnamese ham, drizzled with nước chấm dipping sauce)
Gà Bó Xôi - this was the piece de resistance for the evening: a whole chicken encased in glutinous rice, stuffed with lotus seeds, gingko nuts and shitake mushrooms. The glutinous rice casing, cooked till crisp and golden-brown, was the best thing I’d tasted in a long while. The delicious edible crust also kept the chicken encased inside moist and flavoursome.
Desserts consisted of:
Bánh flan (Vietnamese crème caramel)
Chè Đậu Đen (Vietnamese black beans with coconut milk)
Chè trôi nước (sticky rice balls in ginger syrup)
We certainly enjoyed the meal, and the restaurant’s rather extensive menu meant that we can return again & again in the future, and can still choose new dishes to try.
Saigon House Cuisine
77, Jalan Sri Bahari, 10050 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +604-261 2301
Opening hours: 11am to 10pm daily