DB Restaurant, Cong Quynh, Sai Gon

After going out to my regular cheap meal haunts, ok, I lie, I’ve eaten every single meal in Saigon this week at Lam Cafe, I decided to try something different. I walked up to Cong Quynh in the hot sun intending to get an Australian meat pie and a hot dog from Crumbs bakery. But like everything in Saigon, restaurants can be fleeting and my hopes were dashed upon seeing that Crumbs was gone. In its place was a very upmarket looking place named DB restaurant. It looked expensive, very expensive. I didn’t want to go in, but I wanted to have a Skype chat with my wife and yes, even though she’s deaf, I still prefer to do that somewhere quiet and comfortable. I perused the menu outside. Oh my God. Could that sort of food really be served at those low prices, I wondered. I went in.

I was immediately met with the sound of clinking cutlery, the humming of very good centrally ducted air conditioning, and the most impeccably dressed young waiter walked over and simply bowed his head. Not a word was spoken as he led me to my table, pulled out my chair and handed me the most beautiful soft leather bound menu I’d seen at any restaurant in Saigon.

I selected a cream of mushroom soup (30k), a tuna mayo salad (40k) and mushroom and ham pasta bake (65k). The salad was presented like a piece of artwork and the lettuce was fresh and a good variety of types. The pasta bake was just like mum used to make, only baked in the bowl with a beautiful crispy layer of cheese on top. It tasted amazing and while not large it was absolutely a delight. But the real highlight was the mushroom soup. Honestly, I dont’t eat a mushroom soup too often because I prefer it to be really good, and this … This was beyond compare. This was the creamiest, most rich and full-flavored mushroom soup that I had ever had the pleasure of passing my taste buds. I actually moaned out loud when I took the first sip. It was like heaven in a bowl.

The entire time I was there, there were staff present in strategic locations around the restaurant so as to be able to attend to the needs of every customer. They were always straight backed and staring straight ahead like they were guarding the Queen’s palace and they always allowed precisely the right amount of time after finishing a meal before coming over quietly and whispering “excuse me” and gesturing towards the empty plate. When I was done with my meal they cleared away all the extra cutlery because they could see that I wanted space to write and to chat online. They did it all in near silence, with perfect timing and with faultless grace.

You could go to May and pay more than a million dong for a meal and poorer service than I got at DB Restaurant with a delicious meal costing a mere $5. I pored over the menu in fascination, wondering how good the BBQ’d crocodile was or what ivy or sapodilla juice tasted like or what indeed centrella with lotus seeds was. I settled for a mango and banana milkshake and a cheesecake to finish off my experience. The cheesecake (lemon as it turned out) was very good but not extraordinary, but the shake was, well, suffice to say I was licking my lips and reminding myself that I absolutely had to eat here again before I left Saigon.

DB Restaurant. 117 Cong Quynh, Pham Ngu Lao. Try it and bring all your friends because this sort of quality cannot last at this price.

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