Keith Hancock updates us on the brand new remodel and menu revamp at city-favourite Jaspa’s. Photos by Romain Garrigue.
Jaspa’s has been a prominent fixture on the Saigon culinary circuit for a dozen years or so now, and the owners recently decided that it was time for some remodelling.
The immediate difference is in the décor, which has changed significantly. From the busy, darker style of the old Jaspa’s, the new venue is clean, white and minimalist.
Painted brick walls lighten the place and the smaller windows have been replaced with huge floor to ceiling modern apertures, which give the restaurant a lovely open feel. It really does appear much bigger than it used to be.
The management wanted to present a cleaner look and a more modern venue; that they have achieved this is beyond question. This is definitely a chic, modern, cafe-style restaurant that is a tremendous asset to District 1. The design is taken from the Hong Kong Group brand, and the menu is focused on healthy options, whilst still presenting value for money.
The downstairs bar area is perfect as a drop-in space for the after-work crowd. An extensive drinks menu includes cocktails, wines, beers and spirits including some excellent whiskies.
Signature cocktails include “Banff Scotch”, made with scotch, banana & toffee mix, cream and nutmeg, and “Guavito” which carries a handsome measure of Bacardi and Malibu, plus passion fruit, lime, guava and pineapple juices.
The dishes at Jaspa’s are presented in outstanding fashion. The seafood is a big winner for me, and, in a country where seafood is outstanding, it shone even further at Jaspa’s.
Jaspers’ Oysters: (VND150,000 for three) come in three different styles: Natural, Kilpatrick and Mornay; all three are winners. I quite enjoyed the Mornay, a hot preparation with sherry, butter and cream, which I haven’t on other occasions. I often find that applying heat to oysters leaves them a little weird in their consistency. Jaspa’s have managed to get these perfect.
Open Tachos: (VND185,000 for 2) Lime chicken or pulled pork, each topped with avocado and mango salsa. These small plates are as tasty as they look. They are the perfect starter, or a snack for those not wanting a full-on meal.
Pork Belly Lollipops: (VND185,000 for 4) With just the right amount of crispy skin, these are beautifully cooked and topped with a slice of orange. These lollis are real palate charmers. Succulent pork with a nice sweet-and-sour Hong Kong-style barbecue sauce – the balance is just right.
Tabbouleh Couscous: (VND225,000) This is a tremendous version of this Mediterranean classic dish. For me, when couscous is cooked right, it beats rice hands down. This did the job.
Teriyaki Salmon: (VND395,000) Served with spinach rice, this chef’s choice was as good a piece of salmon as I have tasted and I loved the rice. It was accompanied by homemade Teriyaki sauce, and was the highlight among many others.