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Phats Dumpling House dishes up trendy fusion dumplings in Thao Dien

Phats Dumpling House dishes up trendy fusion dumplings in Thao Dien

Phat’s Dumplings is a colourful shoebox of a restaurant, doing interesting things with dumplings since its opening earlier in 2016. The interior is decked with old Asian movie posters and brightly painted wooden shutters, setting a cheerful and cheeky tone. For me, it’s the perfect spot for a quick lunch or dinner, with its speedy, casual service. With only 25 seats and no reservations you do have to chance it, but once you’ve pulled up a stool, the range of dumplings, bao and noodle soups are delicious and good value.

Phat's Dumpling House
Phat’s Dumpling House

Phat’s offers some funky cocktails and beers, as well as interesting juices and teas. The food menu is definitely made for sharing, with mostly 3 dumplings and 2 bao per dish. The steamed dumplings include chicken & sweetcorn dumplings with a sesame dressing and scallop & edamame dumplings. If you like spicy food, then I would recommend the pork & prawn dumplings with Sichuan chili soy, which were my favourite. The highlights of the fried section of the menu are the delicious satay chicken puff with peanut sauce and crispy duck leg wontons with a Thai red curry sauce.

Spicy Sichuan Dumplings, Chicken & Sweetcorn Dumplings, and Bo Kho (Beef Stew) Dumplings
Spicy Sichuan Dumplings, Chicken & Sweetcorn Dumplings, and Bo Kho (Beef Stew) Dumplings

The bao at Phat’s dumplings are the signature dishes. The roasted duck bao with spiced hoisin combines classic Asian flavours that work effortlessly inside a light fluffy bao. Other star baos on the menu include a pork bao with slaw and a chicken bao with kimchi. All of these are winners.

The soups section of the menu seems slightly random, but ordering a noodle or dumpling soup to accompany the smaller bites actually works really well. The spicy minced pork Sichuan noodle soup was lovely – not actually too hot but with lots of spices coming through. The menu also offers a range of good vegetable options including roasted eggplant with white miso and sesame and an Asian broccoli dish.

Hoisin Duck Bao, Crispy Duck Leg Wontons, Spicy Pork Noodle Soup and Broccoli
Hoisin Duck Bao, Crispy Duck Leg Wontons, Spicy Pork Noodle Soup and Broccoli

The only dish which I found slightly disappointing was the prawn toast, which felt a little dry and had an overpowering sesame flavour. Otherwise, I would confidently say that you should order adventurously and you won’t be disappointed. Phat’s is such an easy spot for a quick bite that I’ve been several times and tried almost everything on the menu. Every time I promise myself I will save space for the coconut with salted caramel ice-cream sandwich, but with the huge range of delicious dumplings on offer, that hasn’t been managed to date.

 

La Villa is the ultimate fine-dining treat in Saigon

La Villa is the ultimate fine-dining treat in Saigon

Situated in a beautiful white colonial villa in the leafy backstreets of Thao Dien, La Villa is quietly making waves among the fine-dining restaurants in Ho Chi Minh. The restaurant is known for its exquisite french food, produced by Chef Thierry, in the most special of settings – a welcome change from the shiny 5* hotels offering fine-dining experiences. La Villa manages not to be pretentious, yet is firmly traditional in terms of French food being done properly.

La Villa, Saigon
La Villa, Saigon

The villa has a lush garden with twinkling tables situated around a small pool, which is a very romantic setting for dinner. Our group of 5 were seated inside due to the rain, in a gorgeous large room with an old wooden spiral staircase, white columns, plush red drapes and oil paintings adorning the walls – it felt like stepping back in time.

La Villa, Saigon
La Villa, Saigon

We were greeted and looked after Tina, Chef Thierry’s wife, who was beyond charming. She thoughtfully talked us through the menu while we ordered up a couple of bottles of wine from the extensive wine list that the restaurant offers.  There are a few set menu options, so two of our group went for the Menu de La Villa, two opted for the Menu de La Villa Gourmet and one brave soul ordered a la carte.

At 1,090,000VND, the Menu de La Villa is a great choice for anybody wanting to sample a range of dishes without breaking the bank. The menu includes an amuse bouche, a starter, main course, cheese trolley and dessert. The portions are not large but the food is so delicious that it is worth every penny. We were also served an additional amuse bouche before we had chosen our menus and a selection of warm freshly-baked breads.

Melt in the mouth Crab Ravioles
Melt in the mouth Crab Ravioles

Standout dishes for us included the Melt in the mouth Crab Ravioles with Foie Gras Sauce, the Pan Seared Sea Scallop, the Beef Tenderloin, the French Duck Breast Pan Fried and, from the a la carte menu, the French Pigeon and Languedoc Red Wine Juice (a la carte dishes come in slightly larger portions). But to be honest, there wasn’t a single dish which we ate which wasn’t utterly glorious.

French Duck Breast Pan Fried
French Duck Breast Pan Fried

I must give the the cheese trolley special mention because it was one of the best I’ve ever seen. With a beautifully presented and wide selection of both well-known and more obscure French cheeses and chutneys, you are pretty much welcome to go to town on the trolley and try however much cheese you like. If you are a cheese fanatic, it doesn’t get better than this.

The Cheese Trolley
The Cheese Trolley

After dinner, Chef Thierry did the rounds and we were able to meet him and compliment the food. La Villa strikes this balance well; Michelin quality fine-dining, but with very friendly, personal and attentive service that keeps the restaurant removed from any pretentiousness. Admittedly the style and pricing means that for most people, La Villa will be a treat, but my word what a treat it is. I will be rushing back for the first special occasion I can think of.

If you are looking to experience fine-dining on a budget in Ho Chi Minh City, then La Villa also offers a set lunch menu including 3 courses and an amuse bouche for a 810,000VND – a gourmet bargain.

www.lavilla-restaurant.com.vn

 

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