An interesting touch to the recently opened Spice Temple is that the whole ground floor is reserved for motorbike parking, which is rare in the golden area of Saigon. Just a few metres off Nguyen Hue walking street and set in a three-storey building, Spice Temple oozes modernity and elegance through the use of subtle lighting, high windows and wooden geometric wall decorations.

 

Furnished with wooden chairs and tables, and leather sofas, this Thai restaurant opened in September, but could prove a formidable competitor to other Thai eateries in town, as the man behind the scenes also has his hand in other restaurant projects in Saigon. Aiming to give an authentic Thai feel, Spice Temple imports all its spices and Tupperware from Thailand.

 

Fused

 

According to the chef, dishes at Spice Temple are inspired by Thai cuisine but recreated with international flavours, making them suited to any palate.

 

The first dish we tried, the papaya salad (VND75,000) was a mixture of papaya, carrot, string beans and three slices of salted egg. Although mixed with the sweet-and-sour fish sauce that you might find similar to Vietnamese fish sauce, the salad still retained its crunchiness from the papaya.

 

This was followed by rock-grilled pork ribs (VND165,000). Simply decorated with a few lettuce leaves and a tamarind dipping sauce, the ribs were grilled to a deep brown. The taste was a piquant combination of the saltiness from the ribs and the sourness of the tamarind sauce. We wanted to order a second portion.

 

When Spice Temple’s pad thai (VND165,000) emerged, we noticed other diners looking our way thanks to the presentation of this quintessential Thai dish — a huge prawn placed on top of the noodles gave it a wow factor. The prawn was juicy and fresh and as the chef explained later, “was bought and kept alive until we cooked it.” The noodles, after they were mixed with other ingredients, made a great companion to the prawn.

 

For Those Who Have a Sweet Tooth

 

On the dessert front, Spice Temple goes for authentic and well-selected options that include Thai cendol (VND65,000), mango with sticky rice (VND35,000), Thai mango panna cotta (VND75,000) and fried banana with coconut ice cream (VND95,000). All were tasty and moreish.

 

To wash it all down we went for the Singha beer (VND75,000) imported from Thailand. There is also a decent selection of wine including Casillero Del Diablo (VND120,000 per glass), Matua (VND780,000 per bottle) or Villa Garrel Rose (VND750,000 per bottle).

 

Soft drinks, coffee, smoothies and fruit juices are also served, with prices from VND25,000 up. 

 

Spice Temple is at 81 Mac Thi Buoi, Q1, HCMC and is open daily from 11am to 10pm. Visit spicetemple.com.vn for menu and info


Photos by Bao Zoan

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