One of the few destinations that Penang has direct flight to would be Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon), it only takes less than 2 hours to reach Saigon from Penang. Vietnam has undergone rapid development in recent years, things were so different during our last visit in 2017. The city's booming food scene making it very attractive for foodies to explore- from affordable street food to fine dining, or even Michelin-starred restaurants (Michelin rolls out its food guide- Saigon version earlier this year).
An authentic Vietnamese restaurant that deserves Michelin award, SH Garden is one of the higher end restaurants in town but you will get some top-notch quality Vietnamese dishes. The restaurant is also strategically located in District 1 (old town of Saigon) with cozy dining atmosphere. The servers speak fluent English, making it very easy to place orders (they have English menu too). But be prepared to pay a premium for the quality and services. All dishes are beautifully presented, one of our favorites- the Fried Rice with Dried Shrimp and Lotus Seeds is served in Lotus Leaf. The texture is similar to Glutinous Rice but slightly lighter texture. It has some Chinese waxed meat and heaps of Dried Shrimps, Lotus Seeds... a dish expertly seasoned with multi-layer of dimensions. Another dish we found ourselves enjoying- the Hanoi Prawn and Pork in Mustard Green Rolls. Unlike the classic Vietnamese Spring Rolls in rice paper, this dish is aesthetically prepared with a huge Prawn served. The flavor is simple and straight-forward but the fresh, plump Prawn speaks for itself. Overall, we were very happy with all the dishes. SH Garden is one of our favorites in this trip and we recommend you to try it out if you happen to be in Saigon.
The Roasted Duck Salad has Banana Blossom, Ginger and Cabbage dressed with classic Vietnamese dipping sauce. The flavors are well-balanced with a refreshing, herbaceous aroma. Good on its own but even better with the Prawn Cracker. The Mekong Elephant Fish is a beautifully done dish- the fish is deboned and deep fried till perfection. It is mildly seasoned on its own but we recommend dipping it in the creamy Chili sauce, for the extra dimension. We must say that we were a little underwhelmed as the spiciness was muted, probably to cater the palates of non-Asians. For tummy-fillers, we had the Wagyu Beef Fried Rice and Crab Fried Rice. Both are expertly cooked with a delightful wok-hei aroma. Not a bad experience overall, but the flavors are a little mild to our liking, probably more suitable for non-Asians.