Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Saigon Saigon, Edinburgh
Right in the heart of Edinburgh, I expected Saigon Saigon to be tourist hell. It was Chinese heaven. This restaurant has a wonderfully old-school atmosphere about it, dark, moody with a hint of red with no pretentions. The welcome is undeniably warm and the best part of this restaurant is that it is two restaurants in one! Upon sitting down, the diners are presented with two menus; one being a 'normal' bog-standard Chinese-in-the-UK menu (not that the quality is bog-standard, mind) and the second one is a sight to behold. You see, the second menu is the Dim Sum menu and comprises of pictures. Even if you are a veggie like me and can't eat 90 percent of the Dim Sums (chicken's feet anyone?), the pictures and descriptions will keep you occupied and be a talking point for the evening. What does a chicken's claw in spicy sauce taste like? I wonder how you eat tripe in curry sauce? Believe me, I was like an excitable toddler with a Mr Men book when I clapped eyes on the menu, I even took it home with me for my box of culinary souvenirs. It is worth noting that the normal menu and the Dim Sums are prepared in two separate kitchens, so if you are with someone who orders off a different menu than you, the courses may not arrive together. However, this adds to the fun, relaxed atmosphere of Saigon Saigon (was going to call it SS for short but just remembered the WW2 connotations). Compare it to Chinese Tapas if you will.
I ordered the bean curd spring rolls, a veritable feast on the tastebuds and eyes. The spring rolls were the best I have ever had, they should win awards for their freshness, quality and texture! These weren't like any other spring roll, but a party in the mouth- glass noodles, fresh veg, sesame and tofu made a great mix.
For the main, I gorged on Szechuan veg with cashew nuts and fluffy EFR. The portion was huge- see first pic, it would have easily fed two! It was a lovely nutty curry with a chilli-hot aftertaste, but not as hot as I would have liked, more like the Rogan Josh of the Chinese world, not a Vindaloo like it should be.
The meal was rounded off with gallons of Jasmine Tea. I was fit to burst, but the dessert menu got the better of me as I saw a mango/coconut ice cream dessert which I had previously devoured at the Tung Fong in Manchester. This exquisite little treasure was just waiting to be scoffed so I made room for it!
They say 'once bitten, twice shy' but this definitely does not apply to Saigon Saigon as I've been 4 times since the original review. More like once bitten, twice totally hooked on the place. Meanwhile, I'm going to leave you with a pic of the bean curd rolls for you to salivate over.