Inspired Dining

Behind Ben Thanh Market, on the second floor of a building across the street, is an intriguing foodie experience

Xi Xup Noodles & Tapas (Level 1, 31B Thu Khoa Huan, D1) is a small, intimate room, seating around 20 diners inside with room for an additional five outside. There are high tables with stools in the middle of the room and counter seating around the edges, complemented by a large window into the kitchen to watch the chef work his magic. Along the walls are displays of various types of noodle strainers. The room is air conditioned, with ambient hip-hop playing in the background.

Opened for just over a month, and with a menu as intimate as the restaurant, Xi Xup is difficult to describe. The chef, an import from Hong Kong, reluctantly calls it Asian fusion, but that fails to describe the unique gastronomic experience he creates. After sitting at a high table and pouring a can of Winking Seal craft beer, a Baby Fatso Dry Stout, the server brought over raw oysters with Sriracha caviar, cucumber and calamansi granita on ice (a half dozen for VND138,000) for us. They were smooth and subtle, just hints of the spicy Sriracha and the tang of the calamansi granite, allowing the flavor of the oysters and caviar to come through in waves.

Raw oysters with Sriracha caviar

Next came salmon cones, which are small miso cones with salmon, wasabi yogurt espuma, sea grapes and local herbs (VND128,000). The flavor of the cream hits first, followed quickly by the more reserved taste of the salmon, then a touch of miso and ending with a little heat of the wasabi in the back of the throat, like a puzzle of layers being put together with each small bite. Like any celebrated culinary delight, the flavors of the dishes at Xi Xup reach the palate in stages. After the salmon cones the server brought what they call The Last Jedi to celebrate May the Fouth Star Wars Day, which are handcrafted beetroot gyoza wrappers with wagyu and black truffle paste served with a soy and mirin dipping sauce (VND12,000k). While the wagyu is tender and savory, the truffle paste is distinctive and the dipping sauce offers a sweet complement. For the less adventurous this is probably a great dish to start with, and one of our favorites.

Salmon Cones

Beetroot gyoza

After the gyoza, we were served zucchini flowers with Xi Xup house XO sauce, goat cheese and shiso (VND108,000). There is a tempurastyle batter fried to the outside, yet inside the fresh zucchini is thick and ripe, understated compared to the bold spicy seasoning accompanying each creamy bite of the distinct flavor of the goat cheese. After devouring them, the server brought the next plate—razor clams with crispy pork rinds, vermicelli, dien dien flowers and a soy garlic sauce (VND98,000). The clams, fresh and splashed with the piquant soy garlic sauce, are locally sourced from Nha Trang while the noodles are handmade in-house.

Razor Clams

We continued with our foodie journey with cauliflower in oat batter with salted coconut cream and roasted coconut chips (VND88,000). The cauliflower in oat batter was divine and savory, while the sweet coconut cream gave it the sensation of being part dessert, a wonderfully paired juxtaposition. After that the friendly server left another Star Wars-themed special, the Darth Vader, handcrafted squid ink noodles with clams, Dalat cherry tomatoes and a house XO sauce (VND108,000). A scrumptious dish with a citrus tang to the noodles, there was a slight spicy kick in the aftertaste, with the different textures of the noodles, tomatoes and clams countering each other playfully on the palate.

Cauliflower

Darth Vader

Despite being thoroughly stuffed by the array of dishes we couldn’t turn down the opportunity to have dessert, a brownie with local coffee beans, pecans, caramel drizzled popcorn, and served with an in-house condensed milk ice cream (VND68,000). The plate was cleaned of this velvety, sweet dessert too fast. It was so good, yet when I return I want to try the other dessert on the menu, a homemade tamarind popsicle served with chili prawn salt (VND38,000).

Xi Xup Noodles & Tapas offers a unique gastronomic undertaking for any foodies in Saigon and is clearly a great place to bring a date as evidenced by the couples that filled the restaurant. Don’t miss this singular dining experience: Portions are larger for brunch and tapas style for dinner. They have monthly specials and frequently experiment with new dishes based on the availability of fresh ingredients and the inspiration of the chef.

Featured image: zucchini flowers with Xi Xup house XO sauce

Images by Vy Lam and Xi Xup Noodles & Tapas

Share this story, choose your platform!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on tumblr
Share on google
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on vk
Share on email
About the author:

Leave a Comment

Buy caviar online at affordable fixed rates from Caspian Monarque.

Caspian Monarque is the best online store where we can buy caviar at affordable fixed rates. Caviar is fish eggs that are found in the Caspian Sea. Here we find fishes like salmon, steelhead, trout, lumpfish, and whitefish. They vary in shapes, sizes, colors, and physical features. However, their eggs are small and almost similar. They differ

Read More »

Drink, Lounge, Be Merry

By Marco Bouwer There’s a classy new meetup venue in town, a 1920’s lounge bar with plush leather couches, swingy jazz tunes played from a gramophone player, and a wonderfully reserved atmosphere. Tucked in the welcoming bottom floor of the popular House of Barbaard, Saigon’s exclusive barbershop for gentlemen, is the Ministry of Men lounge

Read More »

Delightful Coffee Shops in D7

Text by Marco Bouwer Ho Chi Minh City does not take a step back for any city when it comes to coffee culture. It is home to thousands of independent coffee shops, which is a treat if you’re used to a city overran by the big international coffee brands. There’s adventure in discovering unique little

Read More »

Behind the Label

Is French wine about to hit bottom? France has the worldwide reputation for producing the best, and usually, the most expensive wines in the world. The five first growths of Bordeaux, also known as the Grand Crus, even though they are mass produced in the hundreds of thousands of bottles, easily reach astronomic prices around

Read More »

From a Virtual Restaurant to your Dining Table

No longer must restaurateurs rent space for a dining room to serve diners, Oi speaks to Rukmini Makkar about her new business What inspired you to start FEURO, and what does ” FEURO ” mean? Saigon is a vibrant melting pot of cultures, and has a wide array of delicious cuisines to offer, the founders

Read More »

Eat More Vegetables

Exploring Vietnam’s best vegetarian ingredients For many, Vietnam is a paradise for vegetarians of all kinds. Restaurants roll out a vegetarian menu for the first and 15th of every month for those looking for a bit of soul purification. Home cooks revel in a huge assortment of fruits and vegetables, changing with the season. And

Read More »