The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt


Saigon: Quiet Vietnamese Restaurant in El Gouna

reviewed by
Yasmine Nazmy
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Saigon: Quiet Vietnamese Restaurant in El Gouna

Located in the Abu Tig Marina of El Gouna, Vietnamese
restaurant Saigon is an orchestra of flavours that will leave you tingling.

Saigon sits on the lagoon in
the marina,
making it difficult to miss. The overall ambience of the restaurant is
refreshingly unpretentious; and since the owner is Vietnamese, you will not
find yourself bombarded with ambient attempts to create an authentic Asian
experience. The indoor non-smoking area is arranged with long benches and
tables for customers to enjoy an intimate, candle-lit meal in a quiet and cosy atmosphere;
while the terrace outside provides a scenic view of the lagoon and the dock.

As a starter, the fresh
spring rolls (37LE) are stuffed with rice, noodles and lettuce as well as fresh
herbs and shrimp, and served with soy sauce. The rolls are sumptuous,
marking the signature freshness that makes Saigon
unique. The fried shrimp on sugar cane (69LE) comes with a syrupy sweet and
sour sauce, although the shrimp itself was bland.

The Vietnamese beef noodle
soup (32LE) tops the list for a light lunch – although it would be recommended
that you order the large portion in that case. The soup comes with beef, glass
noodles and bean sprouts as well as spearmint; additional spearmint and chilli are
served alongside this dish, allowing you to add extra spice to taste.

The waiter informed us that
the chilli, basil and spearmint seeds are imported from Vietnam and
grown in a private garden in El Gouna. Spicy yet flavourful, the chilli makes
an excellent addition to the soup or even nibbled on its own.

As a main course, the fried
fish with sweet and sour tomato sauce (60LE) in ginger marinade and bean
sprouts is a crispy, adventurous choice that will leave you warm and slightly giddy.

The steamed fish with ginger
and Chinese mushroom (86LE) is a subtly tender rendition of sea bass with
undercurrents of chilli and ginger.

While dinner can be expensive
(expect to pay at least 200LE per person), the portions are quite sizeable.
Presentation was simple and most dishes had little or no garnish.

Despite the large liqueur
display behind the bar, we do not
recommend that you order anything other than wines or soft drinks here, since
our martini (40LE) was served in a shot glass.

The only dessert offered is
deep-fried bananas, although enticing their portions are quite
large; so don’t order starters, soup and a main dish and expect to make it to

360 Tip

This is the type of restaurant where you can expect to have a quiet conversation over a spicy dinner from the orient.

Best Bit

The steamed sea bass with ginger and Chinese mushroom.

Worst Bit

Although this reviewer visited Saigon with a Gouna local and regular, we were not eligible for a discount without displaying an owner’s card.

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