Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Xu @ Ho Chi Minh City

HCMC Part I: This slick, stylish restaurant was our first stop for nourishment on a recent weekend trip to Ho Chi Minh City.

Xu serves Vietnamese fusion cuisine, but that shouldn't be dismissed as a mere gimmick. The menu is playfully inventive, though it has both hits and misses.

Crab soup with quail egg, peanuts & chilli. A protein-packed broth, bursting with brilliant flavors; can't imagine a better start to the meal.

Caesar salad in rice paper. Tasted like regular Caesar salad. Despite being well-presented, the rice paper served little purpose except to hold the fresh, crunchy leaves together, making them easy to gobble in dainty mouthfuls.

Phu Huu wild boar ravioli with spiced tomato sauce. Light, delicate ravioli skin, stuffed with tender, flavorsome meat. The tangy sauce wasn't the best match for the ravioli, but at least it wasn't tart or artificial-tasting like supermarket versions.

Vietnamese herb-infused risotto with mushrooms & sugar snap peas. Had the creamy texture of traditional Italian risotto, but with a subtly vegetarian, strangely mild flavor.

Goat curry with mashed potatoes, carrots & pickled shallots. A quintessential meat-&-potatoes dish. Not spicy, thankfully. Like all the offerings here, there's still a distinct Vietnamese element in it _ something about how it tastes.

Pork belly in coconut juice with red cabbage & caramelized daikon. Meaty and fatty enough, but we've had more memorably melt-in-the-mouth pork belly elsewhere.

Pan-roasted Ba Ria sea bass with green beans & chorizo cream. The fish was hearty, but bland and dry, with no real help from any of the accompaniments.

Tamarind-braised beef cheeks with pumpkin mash, bok choy & pumpkin flower. We enjoyed the comfort-foodish mash, but the beef was a disaster _ chewy enough to exhaust our jaws.

Villa Garrel 2008 Cotes De Provence, France.

Xu Restaurant & Lounge,
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.


  1. The fish does look really dry but the caesar roll looks nice. :)

  2. Ooh. First instalment of Eat Drink HCMH! :D

    Will we see Sean eating some poor wee doggy in the next? :P

  3. wow, eatdrinkkl spread its wings out to vietnam!

  4. Aiks, you put me to shame. (I still haven't blogged abt Spain and HK) I'm really looking forward to reading all about your high-end-food-only-at-HCMC series. :-D Keep em coming! Love the looks of the Vietnamese fusion food here. Appears quite adventurous!

  5. Nice! The Caesar Salad Roll is a nice innovation. Think I can make em into party snacks next! :)

    Didja enjoy your HCMC trip?

  6. how do u manage to make ur shots look like they are all taken in Malaysia LOL! very uniformed photography;)

    food looks nice and healthy. I LOVE the raw veges employed in places like Viet and Thais. Totally awesome, fresh and help you go to the loo;)

  7. michelle: yeah, the recipes were all good in theory, but the execution by the kitchen and the quality of some of the ingredients went awry...
    lfb: no doggies (or kitties), but stay tuned for cow brains (well, sort of) in tomorrow's installment (gee, u'd think i was taking part in 'fear factor: vietnam" instead of being on holiday, huh)!
    joe: heheh, i should have thought of a better name for this blog in the first place ... one that didn't include "KL" in the name! =)
    lemongrass: aiya, this series will probably end before your spain and hk entries resume. but better hurry up ... otherwise, how to chronicle your upcoming balinese and australian explorations :D
    qwazymonkey: oh yeah, u should totally try making 'em! they'd be perfect finger food, and i bet everyone would finish 'em in five minutes! i did like hcmc, and we managed to visit the museums and palaces and tourist traps (none of which were air-conditioned, unfortunately!) ... but i wouldn't wanna live there permanently!
    ciki: heheh, same photographer, same camera wat! and indoor restaurants tend to look alike. but yeah, vietnamese food does feel a lot healthier than malaysian cuisine. luckily, there are a few pretty good vietnamese restaurants in kl :D

  8. Wah the presentation of the food looks good. The ambiance is also nice. is Villa Garrel a wine?

  9. soon it will be Europe pulak :P

  10. eiling: hmmm, i'm not sure, but i think it might be the name of the producer? if the folks at wineactually.com read this, maybe they'll be able to tell us :D
    leo: yeps, very, very soon! but i still have a huge backlog of KL outlets still not posted yet :D

  11. I wonder what would be featured in Fear Factor: Malaysia? Hmm...

  12. lfb: well, the dayak people in sarawak used to be headhunter-cannibals, right? so that's one idea. maybe i used to be dayak in my previous life :D

  13. You mean to run and hide from cannibals? That's the Fear Factor challenge? (Cos the other option seems pretty much illegal...)

  14. lfb: there are more predatory creatures that we should run and hide from ... politicians, tigers, vampire rabbits ... but cannibals? we have our standards, u know. i wouldn't eat just ANYONE :P

  15. I have absolutely no retort to that, seriously. *dramatic silence*

  16. I like the rice paper caesar salad - nice! So HCMC is only comfy if u go to aircond places la, is that right? ;-) Let's see what else you can entice us with, to go to HCMC?

  17. lfb: but u're not big enough of a drama queen to pull off dramatic silence :D
    pureglutton: heheh, hcmc is so hot and humid (well, basically like kl)! there were a few alfresco places that we checked out, but i preferred the air-conditioned ones :D

  18. I'm aiming for Hanoi this year..or mayb i should do Hanoi + HCMC?? ;p

  19. tng: heh, i think hanoi should be enough! i enjoyed my weekend in HCMC, but it's not a necessary destination at all :D