Text: Brendan Seibel
As the luxury coach pulls away, leaving you to stand in the middle of Saigon, expect to be surrounded by restaurants resembling Lac-Hong. Authenticity hounds would flee from the faux-traditional facade and reviews plastered across the door. Dime store trinkets and tourist knick-knacks compete with a small collection of tightly packed tables for space, often winning. The bilingual menu does not inspire confidence.
The proprietors of Lac-Hong aren’t destined for interior design awards but the food earns trophies. Fresh ingredients inspire seasonal delights for daring diners while the expansive menu provides familiar terrain for the less ambitious. Standard fare is as lovingly crafted as house specialties. Spring rolls, overflowing with fresh shrimp and mint leaves is accompanied by a peanut sauce free from the saccharine excesses of westernised Asian cuisine. Orange sauce does not imply sweetened jelly but a delicately prepared compote.
Parisian haute cuisine is typically overwhelmed by the plates. Dishes here spill over the edges, whether an entire roasted hen or a daurade steak so great the chef has to carve it at the table. The quantities of food suggest a down-home approach, confirmed by the staff’s gregarious charm. The waiter will excitedly flex his English through menu interpretation whether you require his assistance or not. The proprietress wanders through the dining room, pausing at tables to ensure everyone’s satisfaction. Families are known by name, children raise a ruckus in the back, and it will become apparent you’ve found authenticity free from the grease and grime of back alley lunch-counters.
Although engorged, order a mango for dessert. Do not order an expresso, you will be unpleasantly surprised. Less shocking will be the bill which could cause slight indigestion; lunch service does offer prix fixe meals. But for fine dining without attitude the expense is hardly absurd.
67 Rue Lauriston, 16th
Ph: 01 47 55 87 17
Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-3pm, 6.30-10.30pm – Closed in August
Métro: Victor Hugo/Boissière