It was purely by chance we saw the ad on 2-star Chef Carrade-Jurancon's ("CJ") guest appearance at L'Olivier Restaurant, Hotel Sofitel Plaza Saigon.
The friend and I decided to go for lunch on his first day but was let down by the many unavailable items. Anyway, we stayed and I got the more affordable US$23 business luncheon and the friend decided to go for the more extravagent US$75 degustation menu.
I cannot remember much about the meal, guess it goes to show how memorable the meal was huh? But I clearly remember the restaurant was very well-lit by natural light through a sunroof and the feel was very casual and comfortable despite the suited men scattered around.
The house bread was not bad - I loved the mini baguette with its sturdy crust and soft, fluffy innards. Good only became excellent when slathered with the olive tapanade. I remembered every dish looking real pretty. I mean, look at the pictures!
The "poached egg in red wine sauce, beetroot jelly, squid, parsley and mashed split pea" starter was clever. It played on th different textures and if mashed peas are always that tasty, I'll eat it anytime, anyday!
I also tasted sole that tasted off. It possessed a texture that of typical Chinese-restaurant-alkaline-soaked-crunchy-crystal-prawn. The friend thought the fish was probably not fresh and got a soaking. He requested for the Chef to taste for himself. Later, the Chef did come out to explain that the texture was caused by the cooking technique but the friend was not convinced. Even I, the non-professional, eat-only skinny epicurean had my doubts.
Anyway, bad feelings aside, I move onto the desserts. I remembered the crunchy pop corn tuile and the smooth pistachio ice cream. The friend had the "melting chocolate doughnut, passion sauce and Morello cherry sherbet". I found the doughnut a little too salty but that aside, I still find it hard to believe how the dough ball could fry up only on the outside while leaving a molten lava of melted chocolate inside. In any case, this was sinful indeed and I question if its worthy to gain weight over. Yes, I did gain a couple of vacation-induced kilos over the trip.
That wraps up a summary of my first 2-star meal, and in Saigon at that too. That would be something worth remembering.