Sunday, 17/05/2020 08:33

Café Central in Chinatown offers new flavours

A long-established restaurant group has tweaked its menu to reflect the cultural and culinary heritage of HCM City's District 5, formerly known as Chinatown.

Stewed beef noodle Hong Kong style is a must-try at Café Central The Garden Mall. VNS Photo MinhPhi

By Mỹ Duyên

Eating out at a nice and cosy place is always a favour I give my children for their good performance at home or school. As usual, my twins were treated to a special meal at Café Central The Garden Mall last Sunday for their diligent online study during the quarantine period.

The name Café Central has become popular among city diners since its first venue opened in downtown HCM City in 2002. The brand has long been synonymous with quality casual dining and this winning formula has now come to HCM City’s District 5, also formerly known as Chợ Lớn (Great Market) or Chinatown, which has deep cultural and culinary connections to China and other parts of Asia.

Café Central The Garden Mall reflects the unique character of the Chợ Lớn neighbourhood and is an ideal destination for families or groups in HCM City. VNS Photo MinhPhi

Located on the ground floor of The Garden Mall complex and facing busy Hồng Bàng Street, the restaurant is a good place to take in the hustle and bustle and relax with friends and enjoy fresh juices, coffee or perhaps a Krombacher beer with German-imported sausages.

To attract more diners from the area, the eatery has added a new dimension to the brand’s already iconic reputation. While this new restaurant is positioned within the Café Central tradition of casual all-day dining, it also draws on and reflects the unique character of the Chợ Lớn neighbourhood.

Though the area has deep links with the Orient, the menu and layout of the restaurant reflect this with the relaxed ‘no frills’ feel of a typical Hong Kong café.

Assorted fruits Bingsu is a top choice among diners to end their meal. VNS Photo MinhPhi

The restaurant offers up satisfying Chinese and Vietnamese favourites as well as Western comfort food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, all prepared in the venue’s show kitchens so diners can watch the chefs at work. In a first for the area, there is also a deli counter featuring an array of Chinese pastries.

The combination of classic Vietnamese and Chinese dishes results in a menu that has made Café Central The Garden Mall even more unique.

Lovers of local cuisine should not miss Vietnamese classics including phở or beef noodle soup, bún bò Huế or Huế style beef noodle, hủ tiếu pork noodle, fresh spring rolls, deep fried spring rolls, and deep fried chicken wings with fish sauce.

Steamed pork and shrimp dumplings are always a good start to your meal. VNSphoto MinhPhi

On the Chinese side, diners can try traditional favourites such as BBQ pork, chicken and duck, and dim sum (particularly steamed pork and shrimp dumplings and deep fried wonton) and a fine selection of Hong Kong style stir-fried noodles, fried rice, and noodle soups starting from VNĐ68,000.

Compared to its sister restaurants in districts 1 and 3, the new outlet offers food and drinks at lower prices, starting from VNĐ28,000 for food and VNĐ30,000 for drink.

As a lover of dim sum, my son wanted two baskets of steamed pork and shrimp dumplings (VNĐ78,000 each) while my daughter chose deep fried pork chop with French fries (VNĐ68,000), one of the restaurant’s signature dishes. I opted for classic rice rolls (VNĐ28,000).

The dim sum delicacies were fragrant and delicious. One by one, my kids finished their favourites really fast.

“These are the freshest and tastiest I have ever tried,” my son said. 

Fried noodle with chicken fillet and mixed mushroom is the standout specialty at Café Central The Garden Mall. VNS Photo MinhPhi

 My daughter loved the deep-fried pork chop with French fries, which can only be found at Café Central. It was especially crispy and irresistible.

After the stunning dim sum, my twins shared my starter, steamed rice rolls. But we were a bit disappointed. They didn't like it because of the way it was prepared and it was different from what they were used to.

Next was the stir-fried glass vermicelli with seafood (VNĐ78,000) and stewed beef noodle (VNĐ82,000), both Hong Kong style, two standout dishes of the restaurant as recommended by the server. The vermicelli dish included fresh seafood and special Cantonese style sauce, and we loved it. However, I preferred the beef noodle dish.  

Other must tries at Café Central The Garden Mall include fried noodle with chicken fillet and assorted mushroom (VNĐ82,000), sour beef noodle soup (VNĐ78,000), and stir-fried beef noodle with satay sauce (VNĐ78,000).

Foodies should not miss the restaurant’s signature dishes such as stir-fried sweet-sour pork with rice (VNĐ68,000) and a variety of noodles and rice cooked in different ways, ranging from noodle soups to stir-fried noodles and fried rice to steamed rice with pork, beef, seafood and salted fish.

We were almost full after the beef noodle and vermicelli, so the imported German beers and traditional German sausages would have to wait for our next visit.

For desserts, there was a fine selection of ice cream, cakes, and steamed egg yolk custard buns.

My children wanted to end their meal with steamed egg yolk custard buns (VNĐ58,000) and assorted fruits Bingsu (VNĐ85,000 each), which included strawberry, longan, jackfruit and papaya.

The steamed egg yolk buns were served hot and the yolk melted in my mouth. My children were crazy for the egg yolk and even wanted one more basket.

If you're looking for a nice place to eat out after quarantine or just want to stay at home and order delivery, look no further and you will be thrilled with the items at Café Central The Garden Mall.  VNS.  

Café Central The Garden Mall

Add: 1.12A&B, ground floor, The Garden Mall, 190 Hồng Bàng Street, HCM City’s District 5.

Phone: (028) 39 555 286

Hours: 7:30am-10pm

Comment: Combination of classic Chinese and Vietnamese favourites as well as Western comfort food at inviting prices, from VNĐ28,000/dish. Discount of up to 50 per cent on selected items.

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