Simon Stanley checks out the latest concept from Saigon’s Japanese pizza masters, Pizza 4 Good or P4G. Photos by Vinh Dao.
“We wanted to make a different type of restaurant,” says Taku Tanaka, P4G’s project manager. “Here it’s more casual, you don’t have to make a reservation, but we still ensure the best quality in our pizzas. All of the ingredients are the same as 4Ps.”
Yes, for those who are still unsure, P4G is indeed the offspring of the Saigon pizza institution that is 4Ps. But speed is the key at P4G. Guests order and pay upon arrival and head to the first-floor dining room while the chefs get to work in the open kitchen below. It keeps things fast and efficient, but also very affordable. Pizza prices range from VND68,000 for a basic topping of tomato, mozzarella and basil, up to VND118,000 for more decadent flavours like the Fresh Salmon Salad.
Pulled slightly smaller than other pizzas in town, at 23 centimetres the pies here make for an ideal lunch portion, already proving popular with the local office crowd.
Once the lunch rush is over, the pace slows and P4G slips into another guise. With a bright and airy seating area, comfortable chairs, a giant workbench loaded with plug sockets and good wifi, it works equally well as a cafe. There’s even a dedicated juice and coffee bar to keep you lubricated, where prices start at around VND38,000.
“You can stay as long as you want,” says Tanaka. “That’s why we’ve put a lot of effort into our coffee. We also focus on homemade sodas. We make them all ourselves.”
As the sun sets, the balcony overlooking the lake beckons. Add a soup or salad starter to your order (from VND38,000), a side order of mashed potato (VND28,000) or a bubbling dish of lasagne (VND48,000), plus a homemade dessert (VND55,000), and you’ve got a full meal. Pasteur Street and Platinum beers are on tap at VND48,000 and VND78,000 respectively; Saigon Special is VND28,000, and a glass of house wine will cost you VND55,000.
The 14 (and rising) pizza choices fall nicely between inventive twists and classic combos. The Salami with Fresh Greens (VND98,000) had been my favourite for several weeks, but after one slice of the Four Cheese with Apple. It is sublime.
A recent addition to the listings, the Tacos de Japon pizza, merges familiar South American flavours with Japanese-style minced chicken and soy sauce. The Shrimp & Ricotta Pepper (VND98,000) too, is another hit, packing a subtle layer of spice behind fresh seafood and greenery.
But what’s a good pizza without a good base? Of course, P4G’s are close to perfect. Not too crisp, not too soggy. Not too thick, not too thin. Charred and smoky. Flavoursome yet light. It’s the ‘fast-food’ we’ve all been craving.