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Huge disappointment – wanting too much after having been awarded a Michelin star: Restaurant Anan Saigon (31. December 2023)

| March 29, 2024 | 0 Comments

The Anan Saigon does not only appear on the World’s 50 Best list for Asia as No. 40, it also has 1 Michelin Star. And my assessment in a nutshell is: How?!

So, let’s start with the fact that the booking was for 6pm, and we arrived there in time. We were told to wait for a few minutes, which turned out to be 36 minutes until we finally got seated. I mean, I get it, you’re a hip spot, you’re like the only restaurant with a star in Ho Chi Minh City, but making your customers wait for a reservation you also have to re-confirm for 36 minutes is just a no-go! So, obviously, the mood wasn’t the best once we had been seated. However, given they realised that this is not in the realm of acceptable, they offered a bottle of champagne as a compensation for the waiting time, so we were like, fine, let’s get this started and it actually was quite nice to get the first course of the “Tasting Menu” (3’400’000 VND).

The “Yellowtail Tartare (Sài Gòn rice paper tartlet, yellowtail, rice paddy herb)” was a lovely small bite, which was truly enjoyable and calmed down the thing quite a bit.

Luckily, given we had been hungry, the speed of service at this point in time was nice as well. The “foie gras spring roll (Hà Nôi Foie Gras, pork, truffle, herbs, mango)” was surprisingly tasty and worked much better than I had thought.

The “fresh oyster (Nha Trang, on the half shelf with lemongrass, kaffir lime and calamansi citrus sauce)” – usually a dish I wouldn’t be so fond of – turned out to be quite enjoyable with the adding of all the citrus elements to the dish.

Personally, I also enjoyed the “crab & uni (Cà Mau Camau Crab, uni, pomelo, crispy shallot, prawn sauce)”, although it did not entirely match with the flavour quality of the previous dishes.

The last bite of the starters, if you can say that, was the “Caviar Bánh Nhúng (Mê Kông waffle cake, salmon roe, smoked salmon, crème fraiche)” and it did not only look superbly pretty, it was actually quite delicious. So, at this point in time, nerves were calmed, food was good, service was on top of everything …

… and then the waiting begun! After the series of small bites, nothing happened for about 35 minutes. Usually, if nothing happens between two dishes for 30 minutes, I get a bit annoyed, and I kindly asked the waitress – which had done a marvellous job so far – what had happened. She had clearly forgotten to call for the dish and told us to wait five minutes. Five turned into 22 and a total of 52 minutes after the tartlet had been served, it was time for the “Cha Cá Lã Vong Style (Hà Nôi black cod, tumeric and local dill sauce)”. And you know if this dish was amazing and completely mind-blowing, I’d be like, “okay, fine, this was worth the wait”. But, it wasn’t!

Obviously, as they had two seatings, one at 6pm and one at 8.30pm, we were over our time since we started late and the waiting time of 52 minutes between two dishes added to that. And then the rush began. Suddenly, dish after dish was served, sometimes even when you were still finishing your previous one. Sure, I get it. You need the table. But maybe, start planning and seating people in a way so you can actually accommodate whatever you try to do. Even though the “The “Le Petit Bánh Mì (Sài Gòn Pâté, A5 Wagyu, air baguette)” was tasty, it really just took all positive emotions of that evening having to look into the guys face, who is ultimately to blame for such a setup.

The “Bánh Bôt Loc (Hué beef rice tapioca dumplings, consommé)” was the next rushed consumption, nothing special, nothing bad.

The “Bún Chà Bourdain (Hà Nôi grilled pork, spring roll, bún noodle, Pasteur Street Jasmine IPA)” was actually nice, although, personally, I wouldn’t need the IPA on the side (not my taste).

And last but not least, the “Pigeon Roulade (Sài Gòn local pigeon, xoi tumeric, glutinous rice)” worked, but the texture combination of the meat wasn’t really my favourite.

The “Young Coconut & Caviar (Ben Tre coconut ice cream, dalat caviar)” was actually nice, since the caviar worked quite well with the ice cream, which I hadn’t expected (then again, you shouldn’t be surprised that salty works with sweet).

The very rushed “Petit Fours (Dà Lat)” were an ending to a completely disappointing New Year’s Dinner.

At least the “Phojito (Lady Trieu Gin, pho herbs and spices)” (340’000 VND) was a nice drink, a bit out of the ordinary.

I mean, sure, the food is good, the service was good in parts, but the way they treat their customers is a no-go. Frankly, just try to do a bit less and pride yourself less on the star and the ranking in the 50 Best …

… and make sure that your service is on top of stuff. And that the kitchen has control over what is served when.

It shouldn’t be rocket science, especially, if you have been given a star. Given my experience, I wouldn’t be wondering if they lost their star next year. My recommendation: Avoid!


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Contact Details:

Restaurant Anan Saigon

89 Tôn Thất Đạm

Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Thành phố

700000 Hồ Chí Minh (VN)

E-Mail: hello@anansaigon.com

Homepage: https://anansaigon.com

About the Author:

I started the blog in October 2009, while living in Milan which I definitely consider to be one of the food capitals of the world. I was in touch with food since my early childhood (as my father is a former chef). Whenever I can, I travel the world to discover new places, to meet people but mostly to try local dishes and to find hidden gems! If you know a place worth going, please drop a line to: info@thediningexperience.org. Currently, I am a member of the following food-related associations: Chevalier @Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Zurich-Ville; Membre Gourmet Dégustateur @Ordre Mondial des Gourmets Dégustateurs [OMGD]; Gesellschafter @Goldener Fisch and Member @Slowfood Convivium Zurich City.
17'135'870 VND (incl. service charge) Filed in: Ho Chi Minh City (VN), Restaurants

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