Tourists, foreigners, and out of towners usually have little or no expectation for food, unless they specifically researched prior to their trip. Yet, the onus of pressure, lies with the host or friends, who may often stress about restaurant selections. You’d think an old college buddy visiting, is like the queen of England in preparation when going for a bite to eat. I know when friends come to visit, I sometimes have a hard time in picking places to go to live up to expectations. Or perhaps it is just me . . . I just might stress out too much.

Yet, when I visited some co-workers in Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon – which I will use now), they brought be to Lemongrass Palace at the Palace Hotel. Lemongrass is considered a high end restaurant, with a couple of locations in the heart of Saigon. The interior design and decor has a contemporary and fine dining look – which is nice – a great place to bring foreigners and guest – like me. Though the furniture and the decor wasn’t memorable, it was the nighttime views of the skyline that made the visit worthwhile.

To be honest, I am not a big fan, nor would I go out of my way to choose Vietnamese food. The Banh Mi sandwiches and Pho noodles are fine and adequate, but you would never hear me crave for it. Understandably, I wouldn’t know what to order. So we picked a couple of the set menus. We had the Set Menu III and the Set Menu II.

I had the Set Menu III, which featured the entrees of the roasted chicken with garlic and fried sea bass with oyster sauce was actually pretty good. I never knew that Vietnamese food featured roasted cooking styles. I could be mistaken, but I believe it had a hint of french-ness with the garlic and sauces. If there is anything I like in Vietnamese cuisine it is the refreshing salads – like the Lotus stems salad with shrimps and pork. I like the spiciness of these types of Southeast Asian salads. The soup, the sweet & sour shrimp soup with morning glory, wasn’t bad as well – it reminded me of a Thai Tom Yum Gum soup, with the sweetness and sourness. But I could care less for the shrimp. The deep fried crab claw, the shrimp fried rice, and the banana fritter was fine, but I believe just a filler if anything. But for VND 400,000, which is around USD 20 – it was pretty good, but not great. I know at VND 400,000 – it is considered quite pricey by Vietnamese standards.

The next time I visit Saigon, I doubt I would visit Lemongrass. Yet, I was living in Saigon, I would definitely return to Lemongrass to bring visitors.

What to Order: Set Menu III or II
What not to Order:

1 Pigs
Price Range 2 $/¥/NT

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Lemongrass Palace
14th Floor, Palace Hotel, 56-66 Nguyễn Huệ, Quận 1, Tp. Hồ Chí Minh, Việt Nam, +84 8 3829 2860
Nhà Hàng Lemongrass
4, Nguyễn Thiệp, P.Bến Nghé, District 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Việt Nam, +84 8 822 0496