Gourmet French and Vietnamese food at affordable prices. By Ruben Luong. Photos by Fred Wissink.

A good example of a Saigon success story is 48 Bistro. Vietnamese owner and entrepreneur Tu Ly, a former chef at the New World Hotel, is a cordial man with a solid professional reputation. His restaurant has served high-quality French and Vietnamese cuisine for seven years. While small eateries around Saigon are constantly closing, 48 Bistro has expanded to include 52 Le Thi Rieng Street this year.

Meat and seafood dishes prepared in decadent sauces are surprisingly inexpensive on the restaurant’s menu. Delicacies such as beef steak with French goose fat, roasted lamb chops with mint and apple jelly, stewed rabbit in red wine, sesame shrimp with Cognac sauce and clay pot rice with salted fish cost between VND 78,000 and VND 385,000. It’s an unusual bargain for such gourmet offerings.

Over glasses of red wine, first we had a chateaubriand Vietnamese beef steak (VND 200,000). It was dredged in salt and black pepper and garnished with ample garlic bits. The beef was juicy and cooked to a perfect rare. Ly noted that the beef is sourced from the Central Highlands, impressive since beef this tender is often imported.

Foie gras is another specialty of the restaurant. The pan-fried foie gras with balsamic glaze (VND 385,000) will please even those unaccustomed to eating liver. The stacked bits of foie gras were delicate and golden. Each bite had a subtle crisp that dissolved into a savoury paste. The foie gras can also be prepared in lemon, strawberry, apple, or prune and cherry sauce for something sweeter.

Our last dish before dessert was three baked oysters with cheese (VND 107,000) that were big enough to fill our palms. Blanketed in velvety and piquant cheese, similar to mini pizzas, the meat on each oyster was especially rich and creamy.

The meal wouldn’t have been complete without a sweet chocolate mousse cake (VND 59,000) to cap things off properly. Meanwhile, a heavy rain poured outside. But inside the restaurant, where it was unusually quiet and tranquil, the chocolate cake, soft lighting, vintage movie posters and nostalgic streetside photos made for a relaxing meal.

 48-52 Le Thi Rieng, D1
08 38 33 29 32
10am-2pm, 5pm-10pm, seven days