Must-Try Mezze

Red drapes and technicolor red and blue orange booths conjure up distant bazaars at this festive spot where crowds pack in for expertly crafted Middle Eastern cuisine

Mezze Saigon (5th Floor, 215 Ly Tu Trong, D1, facebook.com/mezzesaigon) is the latest addition to the moderately shortlist of Middle Eastern restaurant lounges in Saigon, which is remarkable since shisha or hookas seem to be omnipresent at clubs and bars all over the city. The word “mezze” or “meze” means “small plates” or “tapas”. Maybe Middle Eastern-inspired establishments are on the brink of becoming en vogue in Ho Chi Minh City. Before the dust had the chance to settle on the newly constructed restaurant, another unaffiliated Middle Eastern establishment is in the midst of building a lounge directly one floor beneath Mezze. You won’t receive any objections from me. The more, the merrier I say.

In true Byzantine fashion, Chef Karim Zorlu, originally from Turkey, brings the flavors and cooking traditions that makes Turkey the intersection between East and West. Leading this is Chef Vinh. The combination of cuisines from Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia, Turkey—too diverse to list here—are all rendered masterfully. I gauge the quality of a Middle Eastern restaurant by looking prime towards their hummus. Chef Karim must share the same sentiment as three samples of hummus sit on the pinnacle of the menu. You can pick from the classic version of hummus, hummus harissa, and the hummus spinach.We decided to order the Mezze Saigon Platter (VND520,000) as it has a desirable mix of the menu items, which comes with the classic hummus. Mezze’s hummus is smooth and airy but still retains its earthy grainy character.

Sepzali pide

The baba ganoush comes with a pomegranate reduction, which produces a sweet citrus flavor. The platter also comes with kofte, kebbeh, tabouleh, chicken shawarma, and shish kebabs. It’s ideal for sharing and sampling. The sepzali pide (VND140,000/VND170,000) is a Turkish version of a veggie pizza. A crispy, crunchy crusty bread topped with cheese and fresh seasoned vegetables. My regret in life is that it has taken me this long to discover this fantastic dish. If you love all classifications of pizza and if you love carbs, this is a must-order. Finally, we also had the grilled haloumi cheese with chili jam (VND75,000). The proper amount of dairy fat with the accompaniment of spicy and sweet never goes awry in my book.

Mezze Saigon Plater

The wine list is an assortment of Old and New World. While the beer selection has a smattering of local brews including an offering of a great Indian beer called Bira—a choice of either a white wheat ale (VND81,000) or an IPA pomelo (VND92,000). Both are sessionable and a welcome change if you feel that microbrews tend to make you bloated. You can, of course, order the stand-bys: Tiger, 333 and Saigon Special.

Grilled haloumi cheese with chili jam

The dining room decor is subtle and distinct. The red veils draped overhead the booths and tables are an alluring touch, being seductive and providing an illusion of intimacy. There are features of the atmosphere that lean on the clichés linked with that region but without being pretentious. As the restaurant is still embryonic, I am eager to see what type of diners it will attract among the Saigonese. On that Friday night, it was jammed with friends and family of a couple celebrating their anniversary, the table beside us had a European tourist couple dining, and a nearby table was entertaining a girls’ night out full of Viet local cougars outfitted like teenagers from the ‘90s. Fun indeed!

Whichever reason you choose to dine at this establishment and no matter what type of palette you might possess, there is certainly no disputing that the food will delight. I am excited to see a Byzantine dining subculture emerging in Saigon that already boasts a considerable representation of different cuisines.

Images by Vy Lam

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

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 »

A Good Rose Is Good

Rosé rules. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Rosé wines are some of the most undervalued wines in the world. There are no particular reasons for this other than perhaps ignorance and misunderstanding them. In Asia, rosé wines are considered bad because “they are made from the bad red and white wines

Read More »

Chinese Comfort Food

Longstanding establishment Café Central opens a new location in District 5 Among Saigon’s most prominent food & beverage groups, WMC has long been known for its range of restaurant styles and signature menus that are always designed to appeal to broad tastes in dining. This year, the group has launched its latest venue by returning

Read More »

Staying In Is The New Going Out

ONHA.VN brings you the Paragon of Restaurants into your home, backed by high-end technology and culinary talents. Speed POS is a payment transactions and inventory software & hardware provider, as well as training center, servicing F&B, Retail and Hotels. First and foremost, Speed POS has become a household name within the world of restaurants, fast

Read More »

Great Australian Wines delivered to your doorstep

We’re all stuck at home. Why not enjoy Australian Wines delivered right to your doorstep? Rada Vietnam (ilovewines.vn) offers a great selection of White, Red & Rose wines with huge discounts. Premium labels include Kilikanoon (Clare Valley), Mount Pleasant (Hunter Valley), Evans & Tate (Margaret River), Wines by Geoff Hardy (McLaren Vale), Paxton Wines (McLaren

Read More »

Healthy Chickens Means Happy Diners

Chickita is farm-to-table, Asian inspired, flame-grilled chicken Rising incomes and savvy, educated consumers have helped revolutionize the food industry around the world and Vietnam is a good case in point. Fast food, sugary and processed snacks are fun and yes, fast, but cultural awareness of nutrition is on the rise. Healthy eating trends are seeing

Read More »