Italian coffee & paradise of Pastry in Saigon
Vietnamese people often call the dishes made from flour, egg, and butter by a general name: cake. Cakes, tarts, Pies and Breads are all translated into “bánh” in Vietnamese. However, “bánh” is just a small section in the categories of pastry which includes all products made from egg, sugar, flour and fat; and they are baked in microwave.
Text: Cac Truc
For people who love sweet dishes, entering the paradise of Pastry in Saigon is really a journey in dream. Saigon is original and stylish not only because it serves a variety of excellent dishes such as Brioscina, Chocolate Lover, Mango Pudding, Apple Tart, Cheese Cake, Tiramisu… but also because “the host” is so friendly and hospitable. Coming to Movenpick, you are welcomed with a variety of free chocolate available right at the lounge. You can also have a chance to meet the generous chef Peter Lester from Australia or talk to the chef Giovanni Parrella from The Long. You can easily feel the cultural identity and the friendliness of Mediterranean people. Enjoying food here you will know why Italian chefs are considered as witches who combine ingredients in a perfect way. Everywhere in Saigon, you can easily see young people siting by tables on the sidewalks enjoying cakes with their coffee. That is the reason why it is a mistake not to mention coffee when talking about European pastry in Saigon, especially Italian pastry.
There are some stories about Italian cuisine that I have heard for many times but still find them interesting. Those are stories about pizza, pasta, café and sweet dishes. I do not understand much about pizza and pasta, so I just share about coffee and sweet dishes. In Vietnam, drinking coffee becomes a feature of its culture. Vietnamese people drink coffee all day: ground coffee in the morning, ice coffee at noon time, milk coffee in the late afternoon. Because drinking coffee a lot, I become picky: I would not like coffee with too much cream and milk, and coffee with too much of other ingredients such as jelly and beans. Finding a place which serves bitter and aromatic Espresso with creama brown yellow foam makes me really excited. If you do not like strong bitterness, you should choose cappuccino – a kind of drink which is associated with the boot- shape country. The hot passionate cappuccino with a milk layer is a perfect choice for girls who want sudden inspiration. Those who love sweet taste will choose “drowned” Affogato – a popular dish of Italian people both at home or out in the streets. As its name refers, Affogato really makes diners passionate due to its perfect combination of gelato and Espresso.
Also with cold and hot combination, the chef Giovanni brings about a new dish: Brioscina. Brioscina includes Brioche which is baked until it is crispy. Brioche is perfectly served with coffee or with cream. Previously, when there were no toasters, Brioche was very expensive because it was a complicated process to make this. Butter is gradually kneaded with a large amount of flour and carefully added to make a good mixture. The cake from French is still famous bread in the world. A hot Brioche served with a cold gelato brings you an interesting experience – it is like a state of El Nino and La Nina right on the tip of your tongue.
Tiramisu, with a lovely meaning “pick me up” is also one of the dishes I am really impressed. Nothing can be compared with a piece of classic Italian Tiramisu which has coffee, cocoa flavors and the taste of mascarpone cheese and Rum wine. It is a wonderful time to have this dish on an afternoon and chat with your friends while enjoying it. Two different styles of Tiramisu are served here. The traditional one includes a layer of cream and coffee. On top of it is a layer of white mousse made from eggs and a layer of cocoa. I use a big spoon to pick up the three layers and put into my mouth. Happiness is such simplicity.
You can also choose the second easily found type in Saigon, mascarpone cheese, which is added with more ingredients to increase flavours. Tiramisu of this type looks like a cake. Tiramisu is served best if it is made from eggs of the countryside. Especially, in some places such as Cay Da café by Movenpick Saigon, you can get a chance to watch the skillful bakers making behind the glass window. The skillful chefs appeal you with their way of mixing the ingredients and putting them into moulds to shape the chocolate and decorating with fruits. What can be more interesting to know how the cake you eat is made.
For those who love the taste of this tropical land, it is perfect to enjoy the mango pudding and cheese with passion fruit. Anyone who comes to Vietnam is passionate by its tropical fruits. Mango pudding is made from small balls of flour which is boiled until they become transparent like pearls, and then put into moulds for chilling with coconut milk. This dish is served with jiggery and mango. The recipe to make this dish is very simple with ingredients which can be easily found in any markets in Vietnam. You can also try passion cheese. The sour taste of passion fruit and the greasy taste of cheese make up a unique dish which is the combination of Asian and European styles. Vietnamese pastry is very special because there is a lot of fruit added to it.
Whether you enter a five- star restaurant to enjoy pastry buffet, or simply drop by bakery to buy some as gifts for your relatives and friends, Saigon always warmly welcome you. These places in Saigon not only serve guests with appealing dishes but also create good impression on them with hospitality of people and the cultural diversity. You can enjoy sophisticated French cuisine or Italian traditional dishes and experience flavors of the tropical area in the Southeast Asia. You can come in the morning to enjoy Croissant of Danish. At noon, you can drop by to have a pizza or pasta. You can come back in the late afternoon to enjoy a sweet cake and a coffee with your friends. This place features a unique beauty and when you are passionate about, it is hard to forget even a small detail.
Pastry is available at the following places
253 Nguyen Van Troi Street, Phu Nhuan District, Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: 222 083.8449 - 083.8449 200
The LongTimes Square
22 - 36 Nguyen Hue Street, District 1, HCMC
Tel: 083 823 6688
La Maison de Q Gateaux
421/12 Su Van Hanh, Ward 12, District 10, Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: 758 758 086.6
D2 122, Ward 25, Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City
Brodard Bakery systems nationwide
11 Nguyen Thiep, Ben Nghe, Ho Chi Minh City
Read more Ho Chi Minh city travel guide at here.