My husband and I were running some errands a couple of weekends ago (read loitering) and found ourselves on Church Street around lunchtime. None of the usual suspects - Mainland China, Sunny's, Ruby Tuesday's - sounded appetizing. We were walking back to the car parked near Amoeba when we spied a restaurant nameplate that said Saigon. We did not remember ever having seen it before and went closer to investigate. The menu exhibited outside advertized pan Asian cuisine with Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Singaporean, Malaysian, Philippino and Chinese dishes.
With nothing to lose (well, hopefully our hunger), we decided to go in. The entrance to the restaurant is to the left side of Amoeba through a corridor, up three flights of stairs (or the elevator) to a cozy space with a bar in front and the restaurant at the back.
We walked in and saw one empty table. The restaurant was packed. There were about 15 tables laid out in the horizontal space and the place was hopping with couples, groups of friends and about three or four families, some with young children. The decor was pleasing and not too loud with muted lighting and a subdued color scheme; the music seemed to lull and rise with the pitch of the myriad conversations around us.
It was Sunday brunch and there was a buffet, but we decided to stick with the menu. Buffets are great when you are with a large group - it's a pain to order for that many people. Moreover, even if you ordered from the menu, it becomes like a buffet anyway, with each person getting only a taste of a myriad dishes. With fewer people, we like ordering from the menu mainly because we end up eating less than we would at the buffet and we don't have to keep getting up from the table.
OK, let's cut to the chase. The food was excellent. We ordered Thai crispy fried prawns with golden fried garlic, chicken marinated and wrapped in Pandan leaves and deep fried, Thai vegetables stir fried with chilli, garlic and basil and Thai chicken stir fried with bell peppers and cashew nuts. All the dishes came in the right portion sizes, tasted wonderful and were beautifully presented (the dishes range from about Rs. 85 to Rs. 400). And my mojito was cool, refreshing and delicious.
The service was even better, though the waiters were a tad over zealous in clearing the plates or piling on second servings. The waiters actually waited on us rather than us having to flag one down every time we needed something. The manager, Tony, even offered to "outsource" some mango ice cream for us which was not on the menu.
Saigon is a new restaurant and the people operating it seemed genuinely excited about being there. We got a tour of their party hall downstairs which had a view of Church Street through wall-length windows. It seemed like a good space to entertain a reasonable sized crowd.
All in all it was a very good experience and we promised ourselves we would be back.
Pan Asian Cuisine
#20, Church Street, Bangalore
Tel: 4112 2855