This stylish restaurant gets creative with some classic Vietnamese and French cuisine. By Lorcan Lovett. Photos by Vinh Dao.
There’s a new contender in the battle for Saigon’s best hotel buffet and it’s not holding any punches. Opened in September, Latest Recipe focuses on freshness, top quality produce and striking the right balance between Asian and Western cuisine. The chic restaurant is smaller than its competitors but big in character, packing slabs of roast beef and seafood at the mezzanine of the riparian Le Méridien. Staying true to its name, recipes are scrawled across the walls. I sit next to ‘Tuna Nicoise Salad’ and prepare to feast.
The all you can eat option that takes place every night from 6pm to 10.30pm (VND 1,180,000 Sunday to Thursday, and VND 1,290,000 Friday and Saturday) comes with free flow of wine, beers and soft drinks. Sunday brunch (VND 1,400,000) has these drinks plus Taittinger champagne and cocktails. I begin with grilled tiger prawn, sushi and a seafood pot roofed by peppered puff pastry. Finding a taste for the deep blue, I choose a live crab and break into it 15 minutes later. “They all come for the seafood,” says executive chef Frederic Meynard. “We try to cook everything last minute so it’s always fresh.” Meynard who was head chef of a three-star Michelin restaurant in Beijing ensures he gets the best by visiting each supplier. The crabs were bought from a local market and after enjoying the sweet, tender meat, Meynard recommends I opt for the Australian braised beef with red wine. The sauce is delicious and even more satisfying is the feeling I’ve space for some more, so I fill the plate with cold cuts, Brie and bread baked in-house. Among the Asian selections there’s prawn-pork shumai, and marinated fish with lemongrass and chilli. Consideration has been put into each dish, which are slightly more Western in number. There’s even oven baked pizza.
World cuisine is represented fairly well in the exceptional Sunday brunch buffet. It includes Canadian lobsters, Beef Wellington, foie gras, and a Fine de Claire oyster bar, plus of course the free flow Taittinger champagne. Families enjoying the Sunday brunch can also make use of the kids’ corner which has various activities.
It’s not only the décor that echoes a bistro air; the desserts are distinctively French, although there’s always a Vietnamese twist. For instance, the éclairs are filled with the likes of mango, lemongrass, and cashew nuts with Vietnamese coffee rather than the Parisian-favoured chocolate or vanilla.
The stacks of pastries were the real winner for me, particularly the creamy Sakura layer sponge, which alongside a coffee was the perfect finish to several interesting courses.