Stuck in a seminar and looking for a place to have lunch with business associates, the only seemingly good restaurant in the building beckoned.
Looking out over picturesque Nguyen Hue Boulevard, The Royal Pavilion is known for its divine dim sum. Helmed by Chef de Cuisine Lau Yam Chuen, he combined his deep-rooted Cantonese cuisine training in his hometown Hong Kong and local Vietnamese culinary influences and ingredients to produce authentic Cantonese fare in a foreign city. For more than 30 years he honed his craft in the city’s finest restaurants, including at the Ying Jee Club 營致會館 when it received 2 Michelin stars.
We ordered a couple of items from the dim sum menu, items that had the Chef’s recommendation on them. 翠塘紅米腸粉 Bánh cuốn gạo lức Steamed red rice rolls wrapped with crispy bean curd and shrimp was one of them, and it came in this incredibly red rice skin. Not sure what to make out of it, I was surprised when I bite into one and found the dough fritters to be stuffed with prawn paste and scallions. Absolutely yummicilious.
Next up, 魚翅灌湯蝦餃皇 Há cảo tôm vi cá Steamed shark’s fin with shrimp dumpling in soup. The soup choices in their a la carte menu were exorbitant, so the next best thing was to have wonton soup, and still it’s USD 16 per person for one wonton. It was a solid chicken and pork stock with strands of shark’s fin. I ended up wanting more of the soup. The lonely shrimp dumpling was alright.
And finally, my favourite dim sum of all, 晶瑩鮮蝦腸粉 Bánh cuốn tôm tươi Steamed rice rolls with shrimps. The rice roll was too thick.
A la Carte
I didn’t order the more exotic parts like duck tongue, pork intestines or duck webs and wings. Instead I went for the more acceptable choices for the 三拼 Ba món Trio combination (豆腐 Đậu hủ Bean curd, 大鴨腎 Mề vịt Duck gizzard, 肘子肉 Giò heo Pork knuckle). It was competently done, a solid nod to my Teochew heritage. I loved the way they made the gizzards looked like bowties.
X.O醬蘆筍炒帶子 Sò điệp xào măng tây sốt X.O Stir-fried scallop with asparagus with X.O sauce was OK, just like how all restaurants would do it.
陳皮灌湯燒鴨 Vịt quay trần bì Roasted duck with tangerine peel in soup was another WOW dish. I have eaten roasted duck all my life (my family sold this at our coffeeshop), and I have tasted good ones and really good ones. This belonged to the really good ones. The addition of juliennes of deep fried tangerine peel gave the duck an added taste dimension that momentarily removed the greasiness of roast duck.
I wasn’t expecting much when I ordered the 瑶柱臘味糯米飯 Xôi nếp lạp vị Fried glutinous rice with Chinese sausages. It is a simple dish to make but difficult to master; the raw glutinous rice needed to be sautéed before cooking to incorporate all the complex tastes of the ingredients. And then you need to cook the rice and yet not make it too sticky.
This turned out to be better than one I had at the Michelin Bibs Keung Kee 強記美食. While the Chinese sausages in Keung Kee were outstanding, The Royal Pavilion has added dried scallops and dried shrimps to give it the upgrade that elevated this street food to fine dining level. All I needed is a bowl of boiled porridge 生滾粥 and I am back to Causeway Bay.
OK, it was solid Cantonese food, but would I come specially for the dim sum? Not in HCM City when it has to compete with many other dim sum restaurants that are equally good. But the fried glutinous rice with Chinese sausages was one of the finest I have eaten outside of Hong Kong. I would come here just for that. However, be warned – this simple lunch turned out to be around USD 100 per person and by Vietnam’s standard is exorbitant.
The Royal Pavilion 龍潮軒 Nhà Hàng Long Triều
Times Square Building, 22 – 36 Nguyen Hue Boulevard & 57 – 69F Dong Khoi Street
Ben Nghe Ward | District 1 | Ho Chi Minh City | Vietnam
Tel : +84 (0) 28 3823 6688
Visited in Jul 2022