March 12, 2008
Cuisine: French, Mediterranean
23 Han Thuyen Street
District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Hummus served with crudites, grissini and flat bread (45,000 VND)
Fresh tuna salad with wasabi and ginger mayonnaise on baguette (65,000 VND)
Ham, Cheddar cheese and salad classic on baguette (70,000 VND)
Carrot cheesecake (60,000 VND)
Chocolate nemesis cake (50,000 VND)
Raspberry and apple crumble (50,000 VND)
Au Parc is arguably the most popular expatriate joint in the city. While I usually stick to local Vietnamese eateries that are cheap and good, curiosity sometimes gets the best of me. I visited Au Parc the other week with The Astronomer, Zach and Thomas to try some fish sauce-less offerings from their Mediterranean and North African menu.
Thomas and I shared a serving of hummus to start. The portion was meager and the hummus tasted dangerously average. Although it’s been years since my Swarthmore days, I still compare foods that I encounter to that of my college dining hall. The food at Sharples wasn’t anything special, but because the menu repeated every two weeks for four long years, the flavors are forever seared into my palate. The hummus at Swarthmore’s salad bar had a lot more kick than the one served at Au Parc, which is a shame. The crudités and breadsticks were harmless, while the flat bread was actually quite appealing.
For my entrée, I ordered a “fresh tuna salad with wasabi and ginger mayonnaise on a baguette.” The sandwich was supposed to be served on a house made bagel, but the restaurant was fresh out by the time I dined. However, the baguette made a fine substitution.
Truth be told, I was expecting “fresh” tuna salad (i.e. not Chicken of the Sea) and was disappointed when the sandwich arrived. However, after a couple of bites, I completely adored the creation. The wasabi-tinged fish chunks along with the arugula provided a double punch of wonderful spiciness, while the baguette was moist and substantial. The sandwich was served with a lovely cucumber, tomato and herb salad.
The Astronomer’s ham and cheese sandwich was a bit of a letdown. Each component was humdrum, which resulted in a decent but boring sandwich. Zach’s roast beef and Thomas’ pastrami were more or less the same story.
While the sandwiches can be hit or miss at Au Parc, the desserts are for the most part winners—just don’t pay much attention to the menu descriptions.
Zach’s carrot cheesecake, adorned with an oozy passion fruit syrup, was not so much carroty as orangey. Although the flavor was completely off, the texture was right on and the graham cracker crust was nice and buttery.
Thomas’ chocolate nemesis cake was a decadent and gooey delight. I stole only a few bites but could have definitely eaten the whole thing solo. If I were on a diet, this cake would totally be my nemesis.
The Astronomer and I shared a raspberry and apple crumble, because raspberries are The Astronomer’s favorite fruit and it’s been ages since he’s enjoyed them. We were disappointed to find that the crumble contained apples and raisins, but no sign of raspberries. Major detail aside, the crumble was warm and tart and paired well with the vanilla ice cream.
Glad I got that out of my system. Now, pass the fish sauce!