Sign in using your account with
Downtown, Cairo, Egypt.
Saigon Bleu: Elegant Vietnamese Fusion Cuisine
The Capital is full of high-end eateries guaranteed to impress us as surely as they will break the bank; but even the fanfare of exquisite French, Italian and Japanese cuisine can start to sound repetitive. Leave it to the Fairmont Nile City, then, to mix things up a bit with something new for us to savour: Vietnamese fusion cuisine.
Saigon Bleu is a decadent new dining option inside the elegant hotel. The kitchen serves nouveau Vietnamese-French cuisine, and has a reputation for fine and freshly caught seafood and authentic, imported Vietnamese ingredients. The food is elaborately prepared by Vietnamese culinary experts, bringing unique tastes and a classy atmosphere to Cairo’s dining repertoire.
For the most dazzling dining experience, reserve a table that has an all-encompassing view of the stunning Nile, the lobby waterfalls and artwork, and the window into the kitchen, from which you can observe the chefs prepare their sophisticated Vietnamese delights.
The vegetable spring rolls appetiser is lightly fried and crispy in a paper-thin pastry sheath. The rolls are served with a small bundle of greens. Between all courses, rolls of fresh bread are whisked to the table, along with unsalted butter and a complimentary garnish of duck pâté.
One of our favourite entrées offers three large and deliciously fresh scallops served over sautéed greens with sprigs of lemongrass and a light citrus sauce, capturing quintessential Vietnamese accents and spices.
The main course of sea bass is served with a mountain of fried rice flavoured with shrimp, mushrooms and vegetables. The generous two-piece fillet is complimented with a colourful array of diced carrots, peppers, garlic and greens. Sadly, the marinade can be overpoweringly salty, making us wish the chef would add less flavour to the ensemble. The fish itself is brazed to perfection, and is light and flaky with a ginger garnish.
As far as finales go, the desserts at Saigon Bleu are a huge success. Options include sorbets, custards, tarts and exotic lemongrass flambées. We recommend the passion fruit crème brûlée; the fruit makes the traditionally rich confection surprisingly light and it is accompanied by a dollop of lemon sorbet.
The one chocolate dessert option on the menu comes with no less than four varieties of chocolate treats: chocolate mousse served in a shot glass; a chocolate-and-orange-layered concoction; a slice of rich, flourless chocolate cake; and a to-die-for dark chocolate sorbet. Desserts are by far the most elaborate pieces served, with drizzles of raspberry, chocolate sauces and decorative chocolate shavings.
The restaurant clocks in at the upper price range, and offers an imported wine list that is at least as substantial as the food and dessert menus. Without wine or beer, expect the bill to tally up to almost 900LE for a meal for two. An evening at Saigon Bleu is bound to spice up the usual dining experience if you're in the mood for something off the beaten path.
The simplicity of the venue is, impressively, faithful to Japanese aesthetics; clean light wood counters, light wood high chairs and noren – the traditional Japanese fabric – curtains hung alongside the walls. But we were exuberant when we found that the philosophy of maintaining cultural authenticity extended to the food as well.
Donburi aims to deliver Japanese tastes as the Japanese identify and enjoy them in Japan, and the first thing they do right is that they use the correct ingredients.
The chicken in the oyakodon was definitely a top quality cut: it was soft, tender, flavourful and well matched with the eggs and onion. On the tekkadon, we were surprised to find ten whole cuts of the sesame-encrusted tuna. The cuts were marbled, which speaks for itself in terms of the quality. The steamed rice of the tekkadon was flavoured like sushi rice to complement the seared tuna and was accompanied by avocado slices and a hard-boiled egg in the shape of a fish, as well as wasabi in the shape of a leaf and Kikkoman soy sauce. The resulting combination was marvellous, to say the least.
Even though we were very full from the henerous portions of the mains, we were so impressed we decided to try the desserts as well. We ordered the zenzai (30LE), a sweet red bean porridge with rice cakes, and an order of ‘daigakumo’ (22LE), or caramelised sweet potatoes, was served on the house.
We found the zenzai a bit too sweet, but the perfect gelatinous texture of the rice cakes were enough to leave us satisfied nonetheless. The caramelised sweet potatoes were not as crispy as we’d hoped, but the sweetness of the dish still provided a perfect finish to our dinner.
Donburi provides one of the most pleasant and satisfying eating experience for Asian food in all of Cairo. A little bird told us that Donburi is set to roll out some new menu items, including Japanese croquettes and ‘yakitori’, and we can’t wait to go back and indulge ourselves in their wholesome, authentically Japanese deliciousness.