Australian Luke Nyugen’s Vietnam House restaurant in the very centre of busy Ho Chi Minh City is an assault on the senses with bold Art Deco interior design featuring vivid colours and a buzzy atmosphere. It feels exactly right where it is located in the heart of the CBD surrounded by the glitz of the high end designer shops like Louis Vuitton and Gucci and 5 star hotels.
The menu features Nyugen’s unique take on Vietnamese food that reflects the influences of growing up in Australia and his time spent in France through the use of imported herbs and ingredients, such as Wagyu beef, dill and salmon.
We began with the much talked about soft spring rolls with sesame seared salmon and salmon caviar. The addition of the salmon caviar added delicious bursts of flavour to this entree and the flavour of the salmon went really well with the dill in the rolls.
For mains we tried the much talked aboutBraised Wagyu Beef cheek in coconut juice, Phu Quoc green pepper, carrot, shallot served with Vietnamese baguette, and Grilled 5 spices free range chicken, fresh herbs, baby leek & thien ly flower.
The baguette served with the Wagyu beef was perfect to mop up the delicious and almost delicate sauce with the beef. I thought the beef needed to be cooked slightly longer because it wasn’t as tender as I would have expected and was still slightly chewy. The taste of the dish was very good and the carrots and potatoes stewed alongside the beef carried beautiful flavours. A side dish of vietnamese mint, lime and chillies gives diners the opportunity to add flavour to their taste.
The free range grilled chicken was absolute perfection though, perfectly spiced and juicy with flavour. The thien ly fowers with baby leek were an ideal combination – these edible flowers are sweet and taste like crunchy peas and are traditionally served lightly stir-fried in Vietnam.
Unfortunately we had no room to try dessert as much as I would have loved to try the Pandan Creme Brûlée or the Vietnamese Coffee Flan.
Overall it was a lovely dinner with a few rough edges including rather run of the mill service. A proper welcome to the restaurant and an explanation of the food concept would help new visitors or those unaccustomed to Nyugen’s style to better appreciate the menu.
I would still rate the experience highly as 4/5 and would go back to try those desserts next time I’m in town.