As the name suggests, Le Little Saigon is a quaint little place for a casual meal along a rapidly up-and-coming stretch of Jiu Gulou Dajie. The restaurant’s rooftop, under the foliage of a Yu tree, is perfect for shaded outdoor dining overlooking the nearby Drum and Bell Towers.
This French-owned bistro offers Vietnamese as well as French fare. Bobun (38RMB), a type of rice noodle with bean sprouts, lettuce and thinly sliced beef, beautifully blends sweet and pungent flavours with a hint of mint, and is well worth coming back for. Also recommended is the escargot starter (46RMB) baked in a garlic butter sauce and served with a basketful of light and crispy baguette. However, the Vietnamese all-pork and vegetable spring rolls (29RMB/2 pieces) suffer from bland fillings, and the dipping sauce lacks the requisite fishy smell and sour taste of lime juice.
Vietnamese crepes (58RMB), filled with bean sprouts, shrimp and pork, are served with the same dipping sauce as the spring rolls, but the crepes are light and delicious. The shrimp in tamarind sauce (52RMB) would be wonderful if the shrimp were fresher and had a stronger tamarind flavour. Supposedly a fusion dish, baked duck breast with mango (68RMB), served with creamy mashed potatoes, only fuses the duck breast with the mango.
Caffeine addicts will approve of the Vietnamese drip-filter coffee, while those with a sweet tooth can opt for the coconut pudding (26RMB), reminiscent of a flan on a coconut pastry.
Alternatively, there’s the rum banana fritter (36RMB), deep-fried in a light and crispy batter and ignited in the rum tableside. Thé glacé sur le Nil (38RMB/pot), a fine green tea product from France, bursts with a citrus scent and a light trace of spices that instantly arouses conversation.