Sarah Douglas says good morning Vietnam to Saigon Street.
It’s funky, fresh, fabulous and full… most of the time. Saigon Street in Petitenget hit the lead in Seminyak’s new restaurant openings and is rolling up for a tribe of satisfied customers every single day.
They come for the food; there are some great sharing plates on this menu, they come for the atmosphere, and very often, they stay for the drinks, as this bar is a great place to meet and sip some stunning Vietnamese-inspired cocktails.
With a menu created by award-winning Melbourne chef, Geoff Lindsay, there is lots to like here as the selections spin from light and easy appetisers to more substantial main courses and always with a flash of freshness and lots of crunch. Vietnamese food is perfectly suited to the weather in Bali.
Saigon Street has taken over the location of Mantra on Jl Petitenget. The interiors have been inspired by the pastel colours of Vietnam, with lots of mint green and flashes of pale purple. The furniture is a mix of old and new and the artwork includes old posters, neon signs and bric a brac worthy of a treasure hunt.
The menu is designed for sharing and whether it is the peking duck rice-paper rolls, the salmon and apple rolls, the crispy green rice fried prawns or the gooey black pepper and caramel pork belly, everything is bite-sized and diners are encouraged to pass and share, it’s way more fun that way and you get to try everything.
An open kitchen at the front is where the wraps and rolls are made, including those famous Vietnamese sandwiches. The main kitchen is where the hot dood is created and the new grill hut at the front will be where all the grills are made. In addition there are some great Asian salads on the menu and plenty of bites to go with drinks.
“The average lunch bill is around Rp200,000, the average dinner bill is around Rp300,000 including drinks,” says General Manager Morgana Reid. Clearly that won’t extend to too many cocktails, or wine but there are some creative mocktails, healthy non-alcoholic drinks and plenty of cold beer to cool the beast.
Aki Kotzamichalis, one of the co-founders of KuDeTa, roped a bunch of his Melbourne mates into coming to work on Saigon Street. Chef Geoff has won loads of awards for his fine dining restaurant in Melbourne, Dandelion. At Saigon Street, street food is the inspiration. While you can easily imagine that this is probably a step up in quality from what you will find on the streets in Vietnam, the flavours are true and the food goes down easy.
Reservations are recommended for dinner, and some nights they are turning people away, so lunch is a more breezy, casual choice. Bustling and high-spirited, people make their way to the indoor tables or sit outside and watch the world go by. A retro-looking hut sits street-side and this is where the new coconut grill will fire up, adding steaks and ribs to the existing grill menu. It looks perfect for drive-by takeaways (stay tuned)!
Upstairs is setting up to take the overflow on party nights and is also getting the once-over from celebrity Australian interior designer, Alex Zabotto-Bentley. Just in time as the party crowd have discovered Saigon Street and there are plenty of groups eyeing off the communal tables for birthdays and celebrations.
The staff are great, friendly yet efficient and seem unfazed by the hangers on who need more dishes, more drinks, more, more, more. Everything happens with the flash of a smile.
It’s a bit of a mystery sometimes why some places work and others don’t. The universe seems to have come together at Saigon Street and the formula just works here. The bums on seats are a clear sign that they got it right.
There’s nothing fancy or flash at Saigon Street, it’s easy, bright and fun. The bar is churning out some great tropical cocktails, with the frozen coconut daiquiri among the favourites. There’s plenty of life and laughs, sharing and caring going on here.
Anytime of the day, for lunch, snacks or a sundowner, or dinner, drinks and a meeting place, Saigon Street is urban and cool (the air conditioning is hectic) and it all comes together to create a great place to hang out and enjoy a fresh take on Asian food that is easy on the eye and the pocket.