With Hong Kong’s abundance of pho and Vietnamese restaurants, it takes a strong contender to stand out from the pack. In just two years, Le Garçon Saigon has already made a strong impact on the local dining scene, ushering an underrated genre of Vietnamese cuisine into the spotlight, offering genuine heart and soul with good food and family at its core.
With a name translating to ‘Saigonese boy’, Le Garçon Saigon is modeled after chef, Bao La, the son of two excellent Vietnamese cooks known for producing some of the best Vietnamese food around Bao’s hometown of Brisbane, Australia. From as early as age six, Bao was in the kitchen, helping his mother roll rice paper rolls for their family’s restaurant.
After shunning a desk job in order to pursue his passion for cooking, Bao found himself under the mentorship of Jowett Yu, first at Ms. G’s and Mr. Wong in Sydney, and then as Jowett’s sous chef at Ho Lee Fook in Hong Kong. During his stint at Ho Lee Fook, Bao’s mother would visit frequently, sharing her own recipes with the team and cooking the staff’s meal with Bao.
The founders of Ho Lee Fook, Christopher Mark and Syed Asim Hussain noticed Bao’s inimitable talent and special style of Vietnamese cooking. The pair decided that Bao needed his own restaurant to showcase his talents, recognising that he had the skills and passion to lead an expert team.
While Bao utilises modern cooking techniques to enhance traditional recipes at Le Garçon Saigon, the restaurant itself is a nod to Vietnam’s colonial history with a Vietnamese-French brasserie setting. A lofty space is painted with astral turquoise walls and a colourful mural of colonial Saigon, with vintage Indochine accents, mosaic floors, wicker chairs and ceiling fans recreating the airy vibes of Vietnam’s street-side eateries
The menu is all about bun cha – grilled meats and seafood served family-style with a platter of rice paper, herbs, vermicelli noodles, pickles and tangy dipping sauces on the side. It’s meant to be a messy, DIY affair as you create your own wraps featuring Wagyu beef tri-tip, sugarcane prawns, lemongrass chicken and kurobuta pork.
Other signatures on the menu include the mini banh mi filled with an assortment of Vietnamese cold cuts and pickled veggies, and the banh xeo, a brittle Vietnamese crepe that shatters to reveal a mixture of chorizo, prawns, bean sprouts and herbs. Scoop it all up with a fork and dip it in the nuoc mam dipping sauce to balance out the flavours. For vegetarians, there’s grilled corn, soy-braised smoked tofu and flavourful hedgehog mushrooms.
A well stocked bar churns out creative cocktails – try the Cafe Martini made with vodka, Vietnamese coffee and Ricard – while the wine list focuses on a selection of mostly French biodynamic wines and Champagnes.
Rosé is the drink of choice and it’s easy to see why – the open-air brasserie provides the perfect space for people-watching on sunny afternoons as you indulge in Bao’s delicious home cooking with a glass of wine in hand.