Jul 09 2012

Review: Restaurant Bobby Chinn, Saigon

Published by at 8:17 am under Food

The centrepiece of the Link at the Kumho Asian Plaza, Restaurant Bobby Chinn is the Saigon version of celebrity chef Bobby Chinn’s popular Hanoi restaurant.

Not much to see out front.

Not much to see out front.

Trying to help fill the void of luxury dining in Saigon, the restaurant does its best to impress without seeming overly stuffy. Inside the mood is relaxed, the lights are low and thick drapes separate the dining area from the lounge and bar. The lounge area is an attractive and comfortable place to relax and have a drink or quick bite with modern couches and stools decorated by hip, non-matching throw pillows. The dining room is more intimate, with the tables dimly lit and decorated with flower petals and intricately folded napkins.

Apparently, they walked into the pillow store and asked for one of each.

They walked into the pillow store and asked for one of each.

The service screams fine dining; the waitstaff are well trained and professional, quickly clearing plates and making sure your drink is topped up. This is one of the few places in the city that will give you a clean, complimentary glass of water, made possible by their on-site water purifier. Your server never seems to be far from the water bottle. After you’ve made your order you will be given a serving of various breads and a complimentary egg roll as well.

Sometimes the weirdest sounding dishes are the best.

Sometimes the weirdest sounding dishes are the best.

Bobby Chinn, through his shows on the BBC, Discovery and Travel channels, has made a name for himself as a traveller and this is reflected in his ever-changing menu, which includes dishes from all over the world and a pinch of humour. The menu has, at different times, given some practical advice on who to call in case of a terrorist attack on the restaurant and listed ‘I’m on a diet’ as a free dessert option.

The food at the restaurant doesn’t disappoint. The 300,000 VND soft shell crab quesadillas were delicious, with tender moist meat, and the 220,000 VND margherita pizza was one of the best I’ve had in the city (and the first I’ve had with actual slices of tomato on top). If you’re a native of the area, the menu could give you a bit of sticker shock; most mains start at around 250,000 VND, and they can go much higher. For a more budget-friendly meal head to Bobby Chinn’s for lunch, where their set-lunch menu gives you a meal with a salad, main and drink for 200,000 VND.

Now this is a pizza.

Now this is a pizza.

Bobby Chinn’s may not be for everyone. They say they are shooting for an atmosphere of casual elegance, which I assume refers to the fact that they have a seating area with couches. This is one of the few places in town where you may get a chance to feel under dressed; most patrons are dressed to impress, as the clientele draws heavily from the city’s business crowd. While I’m sure you won’t be turned away for wearing shorts and a tank top, if you get self-conscious about that kind of thing, wear your best threads.

Restaurant Bobby Chinn has plenty of seats but as one of Saigon’s more reputable dining choices a reservation would be recommended. The restaurant does host its share of events and may be closed from time to time; other nearby choices include Xu Restaurant on Hai Ba Trung, which has a similar style and slightly lower prices, as does the Refinery, also on Hai Ba Trung, but they serve French cuisine. For more regionalised Asian cuisine your best bet would be Cuc Gach Quan in District 3 or Monsoon near Pham Ngu Lao, but both are about a 10-minute drive away. If Bobby Chinn is out of your price range but you’re in the area, you’re also only a short drive away from Barbecue Garden.

The Link, Kumho Asian Plaza
39 Le Duan, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
T: (08) 6291 7788
Open daily 10:00-late

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