Some days in Saigon it’s just too hot. Too hot to be outside, too hot to be active, definitely too hot to be wandering around the streets looking for new lunch places. In fact, “too hot” is one of the first phrases I learned in Vietnamese… But against all my best judgement it was on one of those too hot days that I stumbled across Magnolia kitchen.
Admittedly it does look a little shabby from the outside, like a tourist restaurant, nothing special. But as I passed by, at the exact moment of thinking “it’s way too hot to be doing this”, the friendly manager opened the door and welcomed me inside.
A cool, clean and relaxed space with only a few tables downstairs, the service is fast and friendly. The nice manager took the time to listen to my painstaking and probably inaccurate Vietnamese (although he spoke excellent English!).
My lunch choices definitely reflect the weather – salad, rice and juice; but what was delivered to the table could not have been more perfect.
A huge watermelon salad, presented in a hollowed out watermelon, was an absolute joy. The shrimp were big and tasty, the pork was lean but not dry, and in place of the usual green mango or papaya there were ribbons of pickled watermelon rind making up the substance of the salad. Sweet and juicy fresh watermelon chunks cooled the whole thing down in an amazing way.
Served simply with some white rice this made an excellent lunch with plenty of leftovers to take home.
There were an extensive array of juices and smoothies on offer with their dubious “health benefits” listed. This cucumber juice with mint and apple is purported to regulate blood pressure but I will settle for it being completely delicious. I forgot to ask for “Không Đường” (no sugar) but I don’t think they added it anyway.
I can’t wait to go back, bring a group along, and try some of their other dishes which were all the usual suspects but with flowers, fruit or other fresh additions. While far from cheap, It would be a lovely place to bring visiting friends to give them a fresh taste of Vietnam.
Salad, 160k. Juice, 50k.