May 16, 2007

Saigon Restaurant

I just posted about Saigon Restaurant on Bangalore Metroblog. You can read the review there, but I wanted to add a few details here, one invidious comparison, and a description of my trip to the kitchen.

First the comparison. Normally I wouldn't go out of my way to compare restaurants in Bangalore and San Francisco because, well, in most cases there is no comparison. With the obvious exception of all the many and varied forms of indian cuisines (especially south indian - karnatakan, keralan, chettinad, andhra, etc.) with very few exceptions (Shiok, Grasshopper, and recently Nanking) the restaurants we've been to in Bangalore don't really compare to similar style restaurants in San Francisco.

Now I know this isn't really fair. San Francisco is known as one of the restaurant capitals of the world, being compared in the same breath with New York City, London, and Paris. But locals like to tout Bangalore as one of India's "foodie" cities and so we had (and have) high expectations for the dining scene here.

That said, Saigon has provided a bright spot in that landscape. The Thai is high quality, as authentic as I can tell having not actually been to Thailand. I'm not really an expert just opinionated and experienced. In any case, this is a restaurant I'd go to in San Francisco. Sure there were a couple of misses - the soup (thom kha) had broken, and the pork was overcooked. But the dishes were interesting, the spicing and preparation was to high standards, and the presentation was well done.

I'm sure some of it has to do with the fact that there is a visiting chef from Bangkok. We'll see if they can keep the standards up after she leaves, but in the mean time I'm happy.

So, being the nosy guy I am, when the chef came to chat, I asked if I could see the kitchen. In no time I was whisked down the back stair (the restaurant is on 3, the kitchen is on 2) into a spacious, immaculately clean, nicely appointed restaurant kitchen. Looked like one cold station, one hot (wok, griddle, frier), and someone plating. I've posted pix on flickr but I was surprised by the size of the mise!

Anyway, all in all it was an enjoyable experience to warm the cockles of my foodie heart. It gives me hope that we'll find more little treasures like this to comfort me while I try to learn the ins and outs of indian food - I won't feel quite so much like a stranger in a strange land.
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