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HCMC, Vietnam: Halal @ Saigon

22 September 2010

Flight delays are no laughing matter, especially when it means another five hours in transit in an almost godforsaken Nha Trang airport with little food, air-conditioning and wi-fi. It's an even more "interesting" experience when you can see the aviation engineers attempting to hammer the plane door, use masking tapes, squeeze paper into gaps etc., and then you find yourself scrambling to find another flight just so you don't get on that plane. No complaints about having to stay in the five-star Sheraton Hotel, since we missed our connecting SQ flight from Ho Chi Minh City and had to find a place for the night. No complaints either about indulging in familiar Malaysian fare, even at 10+pm, since it was all good comfort food.

Halal @ Saigon was opened by the lively Dr Shimi for about a year and eight months now, and to date has won at least three local awards in recognition of its good food. Halal @ Saigon is located across the road from Sheraton Hotel and is close to the shopping belt of Ho Chi Minh City. Do take note of its namecard (above) though, because you wouldn't want to confuse it with a competitor who had set up shop nearby, with a large Halal sign to boot and with similar fonts too.

Vietnamese Spring Rolls: I'm not a fan of these, but my colleagues liked it a lot. This is one of the staple dishes of the typical Vietnamese diet, but I would take pho anytime. The food I mean, not the euphemism.

Rice Pancake with Chicken: I took the picture (left) of the rice pancake off the Internet just so you could see what it looks like. I'm not a bean-sprouts person so I have to reserve my comments on this, but at least my colleagues (again) seemed happy with it.

Fried Shrimp with Salted Eggs: I've eaten the crab variation of this in Singapore, but with prawns it's really much saltier. Probably better eaten with noodles or rice rather than on its own.

Curry Chicken: No pictures from the late dinner, but the chicken curry is worth mention because it's not our usual Singapore-type curries. It has a more distinct Indian flavour, and can be mind-numbingly spicy if taken in large and repeated doses. Still, it was hugely addictive to me, and I went on and on drinking the curry as it is. Curries are comfort food to me!

Nasi Lemak

We returned to Halal @ Saigon the following morning, and most of us ordered the Nasi Lemak because of the favourable opinions of it from the night before. The rice was fragrant and tasted alright, but people who appreciate balance would especially love the chicken rendang and sambal chilli because they were not too spicy. Me, I would like it with a more spicy kick, but overall it was still quite good.

Roti Canai

The Malaysian equivalent of the Singaporean roti prata, where the only difference is in name actually. The Roti Canai was disappointing because I doubt it was "hand-made", and going by the taste and exact dimensions it should be from a frozen pack. At least the curry (note: different from the à la carte chicken curry mentioned above) that came along with it saved the dish.

Teh Tarik: Make sure you order this delicious full-bodied beverage, it's sweet and warms you up inside all over.

Well, I wish I could tell you more, but most of us were ordering similar dishes and sticking to our comfort zones. This is definitely a place to go to if you need a break from traditional Vietnamese food, fusion French dishes and international buffets. We know this for sure because we've been having quite a bit of all that, and as you can tell we even missed the breakfast spread at the Sheraton just for some comforting Nasi Lemak and Teh Tarik :)

Very good, most of the staff can manage orders in English. Do chat with Dr Shimi if you see her around, she's a very passionate person who loves food. There's only one Halal @ Saigon by the way, because she doesn't want to compromise on quality that usually follows with expansion.

VND 70,000 for the vietnamese spring rolls
VND 45,000 for the rice pancake with chicken
VND 99,000 for the fried shrimp with salted eggs
VND 90,000 for the chicken curry
VND 72,000 for the nasi lemak

* The roti canai is not on the menu but you can still order it.

31 Đông Du, District 1,
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Additional Comment
The picture of the airport and the rice pancake are from external sources on the Internet.

Pictures taken with the Canon Ixus 80 IS.

4 Foodie Comments:

Hungrybunny said...

Hi Harris, thanks for putting up this info. Definitely a good recommendation if I'm going there in the future

September 22, 2010 at 3:18 PM
*Harris said...

I think HCMC is a nice place, much more peaceful than BKK, and less boring than Hanoi heh.

September 22, 2010 at 9:25 PM
HungryTrotters said...

Still chilling out at Vietnam? :) Hahaha chilling out = work

September 22, 2010 at 11:51 PM
Nhók Mon said...

Halal @ Saigon was changed the owner. The ex-owner and the Imama are opening a new halal restaurant in saigon. it's named Banana Leaf @ Saigon. Add: 57 Vo Van Tan str, Dist 3 Ho Chi Minh city. this is its website

November 12, 2012 at 11:43 PM

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