London, United Kingdom
September 7, 2004
All the meals include the a soup to start, an appetiser of the traditional Vietnamese imperial rolls, the main course, a dessert and coffee or tea to finish. I was with two friends - one ordered the set with a main of two skewers of grilled meats (and you had a choice of fish, pork, chicken or beef and you could mix and match) and battered prawns with rice vermicelli and salad - that was about $14 Canadian. The other friend and I split the Vietnamese fondue - about $35 for two people.
What amazing deals these were! We never expected to be presented with so much food! The soups came out first and these were clear soups chock full of seafood. The imperial rolls that followed turned out to be two fat monsters sitting on a thick bed of greens. The idea is that you wrap the deep fried roll in the lettuce and add herbs to taste - it tastes fresh and delicious. My friend's grilled meats and prawns arrived on a very large plate will lots of accompanying salad and rice vermicelli. The prawns were two large specimens butterflied and deep fried in a batter. She said it was good! The fondue, though, was amazing. A small black cauldron-like pot is placed in the middle of the table and is filled with hot water with chunks of tomato and lots of coriander floating around inside. We were equipped with a number of implements (just like in Chinese steamboat) and a variety of sauces (a traditional Vietnamese nuoc cham, a hoisin type of sauce and a peanut based sauce). A platter of sliced chicken, sliced beef, prawns and scallops then arrived accompanied by a platter of rice, rice vermicelli, beansprouts and lettuce.
One of the best parts of the meal is that at the end, your cooking pot will be filled with a richly flavoured stock, with all the flavours of the foods that you have cooked in it. I asked for some small bowls after our meal and we all partook in drinking the lovely broth.
After the meal, dessert arrived in the form of battered bananas and we all chose coffee to finish things off.
We ended up staying for three hours and never realised it! I wouldn't mind flying back to Montreal just to eat there again! The food was excellent and it really was a bargain. The lighting in the restaurant is a bit dark but this lends to an air of romance. I recommend bringing a date and sharing the fondue - what a great way to break the ice!
From journal A Week in la Belle Montreal