Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tib (Saigon, Vietnam)

We flew to Saigon last weekend to meet friends who were on home-leave. We flew down to Saigon not only to meet them but to have a nice relaxing weekend of eating & drinking. The first evening our friends took us to a Vietnamese restaurant which was about a 15 minute walk from our hotel.

The restaurant is called Tib. Apparently, it has been open in Saigon for several years now. You have to walk down a long alley way from the main road. At the end of the alley way, you arrive at a lit entrance that reminds you of a Chinese movie scene with lit Chinese lanterns, tea table & chairs and an ancient Chinese entrance way.

I love kung-fu movies; and this entrance way reminded me of many of the kung-fu movies I watched where the hero would beat up his enemies before entering the restaurant to enjoy a nice Chinese meal.

We decided to sit outside in the courtyard since it was not too hot. The original restaurant is in a house and the courtyard had been added when the owners decided to put air-conditioning and that smoking was not allowed inside the restaurant.

The first dish was goi-cuon (fresh spring rolls) with pork and shrimp. Who would not love fresh Vietnamese spring rolls. These were very fresh, well rolled and had tons of flavours due to the different herbs, rice noodles/ paper, grilled pork and shrimp. After dipping the spring rolls into nuoc mam, the fresh springs were perfect.

The next dish was fresh spring rolls but instead of rice paper as the wrapping, this one was wrapped with leaves (I have no idea how they are called in English). You do not find these fresh spring rolls in Bangkok. So, when we are in Saigon, these are the first things I want to eat. The fresh leaves add another dimension in texture and flavour. A really wonderful dish.

The next dish was cha-gio (deep fried spring rolls). The Vietnamese really know how to make cha-gio. The huge varieties just in the wrapper paper alone is mind boggling. At Tib, they used the thin and sticky rice paper that I really like. It give a slight chewy texture to the cha-gio. The filling of minced pork and other wonderful things was tasty.

The next dish was steamed rice paste topped with crab, pork skin and herb oil. Another rarity in Bangkok. A thin layer of rice paste is put on a small dish and it steamed with crab. Once taken out it s topped with a herb enfused oil and a pork skin. You add some nuoc mam and the you get an amazing palate of flavours.

The next dish was a chicken salad. The Vietnamese have thousands of fresh salads. This was a chicken salad with herbs. Fresh, refreshing, simple but yet so tasty.

The next dish was one of the house specialties; clams with vegetables, pork skin on rice. I never had this dish so I was very excited to try it. The large bowl arrives at the table and a sauce to accompany it. The waiter asked if he should mix the sauce into the bowl and serve us (what nice service). The waiter separated the dish into individual bowls. The outcome was an incredible taste & texture sensation. Cold/ hot, sour/ sweet, crunchy/ soft, tangy/ acidic, etc. Wonderful!

The next dish was bo la lot (grilled leaf wrapped beef). A lovely dish with so much flavour. The beef was tender and juicy and the leaves so much flavour. A great combination.

Overall; the food was really delicious at Tib. The waiter we had was not the best but he was very friendly and very eager to please. The atmosphere was pleasant. I would not mind going back to Tib.

187 Hai Ba Trung, District 3, Saigon

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