It made perfect sense that Marco Lee had visited Vietnam before the opening of Miss Saigon Vietnamese Cuisine in Hong Kong.
As the restaurant’s head chef, Lee faced the challenge of replicating authentic Vietnamese dishes popular among Hong Kong customers.
It helped that Lee has been fascinated by Vietnamese cuisine since his days as en executive sous chef in the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
When Miss Saigon finally raised its shutters in June in Kennedy Town, everything was in place.
Its owners made sure it lived up to its name in look, feel and taste.
The restaurant is wrapped in turquoise and features rich wood paneling and bamboo furnishings, combining a cozy atmosphere with a distinctively relaxed Indochinese ambiance.
And the menu speaks for itself.
The signature Miss Saigon house pho comes with raw US angus beef, beef brisket, beef ball, beef tripe and beef tendon.
The soup base is MSG-free made with fresh roasted beef marrow bones boiled for 24 hours.
Lee uses local pork and pork belly to prepare another house favorite — Vietnamese pork ham.
Marinated in ginger juice and seasoning, the pork is soaked in water for two days and blended three times in a food processor.
The ground pork is then wrapped tightly in a loaf for steaming.
Each bite is 100 percent meat, minus any artificial additives.
The restaurant takes its spring rolls in fours and threes.
Each is rolled with four portions of vegetables, four portions of shrimps, four portions of crab meat and three portions of pork.
In order to get a crispier effect, it is soaked in lemon juice and vinegar in addition to soda and maltose.
For more effect, fried rice with scrambled egg and chicken is served inside a young coconut topped with sauce made from fresh coconut water, coconut milk and cream, as well as a thick layer of cheese lightly baked.
Drinks and desserts are best left for last.
The steamed pandan-flavored egg white pudding with coconut milk is refreshing, especially when paired with seasonal fruit.
Then there is weasel coffee, light in texture but rich in flavor and aroma (chocolate and cream).
It’s a must for all coffee lovers.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept. 5.
Translation by Darlie Yiu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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