Cheese fanatics can enjoy some top range produce at a new French bistro in District 2, Le Padam – Saigon. By Lorcan Lovett. Photos by Vinh Dao.
Good cheese can be hard to come by in Saigon but that’s all set to change with the arrival of a new bistro in District 2.
Le Padam-Saigon on Nguyen Van Huong Street offers top quality French produce with an atmosphere to match.
The bistro has a spacious airy room filled with charming French music which customers enjoy while propping up the long wooden bar.
The decor reflects the owners’ personal style: posters of French films, witty proverbs scribbled on the walls and a large sketch of a scene involving scraggly men sipping wine.\Since opening in April, Le Padam has gained popularity thanks to its high quality produce, most of which is imported from France, and jolly apero, the French custom of having a drink in the early evening.
Owned by couple Cyrille and Ann, the bistro also has books, board games and a pool table.
Naturally, cheese is the main attraction. The bistro’s supplier buys directly from the farmers and then stores it in a cellar.
We ordered Super Dupond (VND 530,000), a superb platter of camembert, brie and roquefort, along with rillettes made by Ann using six types of herbs, pineapple and strawberry jam, both from Dalat, and enough bread to finish the cheese.
Using an old family recipe, Cyrille takes four hours to bake one batch. They turn out crisp, soft and spotted with pockets of air. Many locals visit daily to buy baguettes at VND 40,000 each and I can see why: it’s the best I’ve had in Vietnam.
First up on the platter of raw milk cheese was fruity beaufort followed by ripened brie that had an irresistibly rich texture and creamy colour.
The camembert roti, sweet at first taste, was quickly gobbled up, melting in my mouth with each scoop.
Cyrille told stories about each cheese as we ate while the potency of the roquefort’s tangy hit and salty aftertaste made my tongue tingle.
Cyrille revealed a dish of one-third butter and two-thirds roquefort. He grabbed a phial of cognac like a crazed scientist and pipetted several drops of the alcohol into the mix which brought out more of the flavour.
The organic jams were sweet without a hint of artificial sugar. The bistro also has homemade desserts and wine from France and Argentina, priced at around VND 120,000 per glass and VND 640,000 per bottle.
“I want to share what I like in French culture,” says Cyrille. “The cheese, the wine, the pictures of all the French movies. The people come for the apero, the social atmosphere.”