This past weekend, five of us treked up to Chateau De Saigon, a relatively new, yet widely reviewed Vietnamese restaurant on Buford Highway. This was my fourth meal and third dinner at this joint. Not surprisingly, there is no doubt in my mind that the recent love doled out on this place by the AJC (and others) has had a distinct impact on the crowd. My first weekend visit back in September was an in-and-out experience. This past trip, everyone and their mom was there. Despite our attempts to avoid a crowd, we were relegated to the corner for approximately 25 minutes. The open seats did nothing more than teased us: “You wish you were here!” Chateau is still understaffed.
My first time there, I did a double take. The decor is just not what you’d expect from a Vietnamese restaurant, let alone one that makes its’ home on Buford. Chateau is spacious, has a few HD TVs, and is sparsely decorate. The restrooms are clean and well kept.
The staff here is extremely pleasant; however, I have yet to get really top notch service. They fill water glasses with tactical precision yet struggle to serve up food in a timely manner. I have found a spot on my dishes from time to time, so that’s no fun! Speaking specifically to this past meal, I can only assume they have a hard time serving people who do not order family style. I actually blame my dining buds for this one: Who the hell goes to a Pan Asian restaurant and orders for themselves? Regardless, the three appetizers were brought out over a period of five minutes while the five main courses were served over ten plus minutes.
The food muddles around a bit – sometimes it is delectable, and other times it’s a let down. Their appetizers are probably the most inconsistent items on the menu. This past saturday, we started with the Nha Trang Grilled Pork rolls, the Chao Tom, and the Tau Hu Ky.
The pork rolls combined mint, lettuce, carrot, cucumber, and some fried “stick” of some sort that added a crunch. It was good, though the sweet sauce served up is of the generic genus, and not very appealing. Chao Tom is ground shrimp encloses in casing. The shrimp is wrapped around a sugar cane and then grilled. I have had these now three times. They have an interesting flavor, but the texture harkens back to sausage. Tau Hu Ky is a tofu shrimp roll. The shrimp is ground and then placed inside a crispy tofu wrapper where upon the concoction is dropped into the deep fryer. When I first had them here, I really loved them. However, they are not something I think I will order again. They have a propensity to be rubbery and reminiscent of the Chao Tom. Do you ever find it funny that we use “rubbery” as a descriptive for food? Anyone here actually taken a bite out a tire before? Didn’t think so….
The Shaken Beef is a filet mignon with scallions and white onions. The Misdemeanor ordered the rice platter edition, but they brought us the Bo Luc Lac instead. This is my favorite dish here as the meat is full of flavor and tender. It has been consistently cooked at each of my four meals. Adam was impressed with it as well, though he still prefers Nam’s execution of the dish.
Some other great choices are the clay pots and the crispy egg noodles. The clay pots are a fantastic value and very fresh. They lend themselves to the sweeter spices; however, I have only felt “over sugared” after I consume an entire bowl. I did that this past meal. These are easily enough for two (especially with an app).
The crispy egg noodles are great. I’ve had at least one of these every visit; Chinese restaurants cal them a Birds Nests. Adam’s better half went with the Seafood noodles. Really flavorful and fresh. However, the calamari was overcooked, as it was with my combination pot. That is an understandable offense as calamari is very easy to over cook.
Critter decided to pick up where her sister left off and went straight for the Chinese menu items – Beef Lo Mein was the victim. The beef was well cooked and had a great flavor. When eaten on its’ own, it was very good. Adding in the noodles just made the dish lose its’ focus. The sauce over powered the flavor of the lo mein noodle.
In a nutshell, this place offers decent fare. The The proteins here are always high quality, but as I mentioned, they kitchen can get a little trigger happy with the cooking times. I can see this place sticking for some time, though it does not knock my socks off. Reservations are available for groups of five or more.