Anything But Simple

Located on one of Saigon’s most coveted downtown streets, a new bistro pairs romance with fusion fare

The Little DOOR Bistro (49 Ton That Thiep, D1, www.facebook.com/thelittledoorbymrsimple) welcomes diners with a soft, warm glow from inside. Stark white tables illuminated by vintage bulbs, a sleek espresso bar and a display of delicate baked goods greet us as we enter the ground floor café. Ascending the staircase, the atmosphere becomes increasingly more romantic with each step as we curve around a decorative ladder garnished with vines and hanging lights. The first floor is a classic dining room with balcony seating that offer stunning views of the city and the ornate Hindu temple across the street. The top floor is a cozy space with an impressive glass ceiling, velvet couches and even more intimate tables.

Sway With Me softly plays over the speakers on the first floor as candlelight flickers across the white table, accented in steely blues and silvers. The crisp walls are decorated with modern mirrors, the high ceilings meet a full wall of windows and the lights are gently dimmed. My partner and I each order a glass of the house red wine, an Italian Il Pumo Negroamaro (VND80,000 per glass). The red is balanced, both dry and fruity, making it easy to drink. Other wines are offered by the bottle, as well as a selection of beers.

The menu is bistro style, not too many options, just enough that there is choice without losing quality for quantity. The dishes are fusion, classic Western reworked with Vietnamese flavors. Everything is fresh and housemade, down to the Worcestershire sauce, Chef Michael loyally following the ideology that “if you want something done right, do it yourself.”

truffle and mushroom soup

Truffle Soup

Perusing the pages, there is one ingredient that appears at nearly every turn: mushrooms. Truffles are a specialty at The Little DOOR, as well as shitaki, which are aged three years, kept and prepared with great care. The mushrooms are a delicacy and a rare found treat. We decide to order the truffle and mushroom soup (VND315,000) to begin—the mixture of truffle and shitake is not something to be missed. It is served at just the right temperature for immediate consumption, succulent with earthy tones blending evenly for a rich, creamy finish. We also opt for an order of the stir scallops with white wine (VND170,000). Artfully presented on a perfectly symmetrical plate, the two thick scallops are exquisitely buttery and lightly topped with tomatoes and capers.

stir scallops with white wine

Scallops

The songs of crooners continue to accompany our dinner as we prepare to dig into our mains. We select the red wine braised beef ribs (VND275,000) and the seared salmon with white wine sauce (VND290,000), both of which are impeccably and colorfully presented. The braised ribs fall off the bone and practically melt in my mouth. They are subtly spicy with a rich, peppery finish. The salmon is light pink accented with garnishes of deep orange and magenta. It is delicious, delicate with a robust taste.

Salmon – Cheese Rolls

Finally, it’s time for dessert, and I am eager to try some of their sweets, with all cakes and pastries baked in house. After much deliberation, we decide to get one fruity and one chocolate dessert: the berries cheesecake (VND55,000) and the tiramisu (VND50,000). The cheesecake has a thick base and light red coating with a solitary raspberry on top—it is tangy, sweet and superbly dense. The tiramisu is brought in a trendy jar, the flavors layering onto the spoon with each scoop, rich and smooth. We also taste a specialty California cheese roll (VND50,000), which has a flaky crust, salty and sweet, and filled with warm melted sweet cheeses.

The Little DOOR Bistro flawlessly blurs the line between cute and chic, making the diner somehow feel both at home and elegant all at once. Descending the stairs, we leave satisfied and with the knowing feeling that this will not be our last visit.

Images Provided by The Little DOOR

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