Sometimes one eats somewhere and feels a place has potential, but then somehow it falls flat. That was my experience with the Vietnamese restaurant Saigon Pearl in Versoix. It was not horrible, not at all, but it could have been a lot better. Let’s start at the beginning.
I was interested in visiting because the Saigon Pearl actually boosts a vegan (not even vegetarian!) menu. By eating vegan at a place that has a vegan menu, I have the idea this shows the restaurant that there is an interest in vegan food. Positive reinforcement by money, so to say.
So the vegan menu has 1 starter and 5 mains, but it was a bit unclear what was a starter and what was a main.
We went on a Saturday and it was extremely busy! I don’t know if during the week it is also so busy. The interior is casual and relaxed, with fitting Asian accents.
For drinks I tried a coconut water, since I liked what I got in Aux 3 elephants and Vietnam in Paris . I got packaged coconut water, not the fresh stuff unfortunately. The vegan starter is a plate of spring rolls. They were very crunchy, and the taste of the fried exterior completely overpowered the veggies and noodles on the inside. This spawned the theory that the spring rolls might have been refried.
After we tried noodles with tofu and veggies, and tofu with caramel sauce. They were pretty similar, except that the caramel sauce tofu was served with rice. There were not many veggies in the noodles, but what was worse was that they were partially cold. So again, was this dish reheated in a microwave? The warm parts were okay, but the cold bits were quite disappointing.
There are also a few vegan desserts. We tried two, a “sesame ball” and banana with tapioca pearls in coconut milk. The “sesame ball” has a crusty, fried exterior and soft dough inside. I liked it but it was very hard, and a bit difficult to handle. The banana with tapioca pearls in coconut milk was very sweet, and unfortunately the coconut is barely detectable.
Saigon Pearl has the feeling of a family eatery, with a casual atmosphere. The service was friendly, and I really think the food has potential. Unfortunately, the prices didn’t match the experience, in this case. I saw a lot of positive reviews online for Saigon Pearl, so I like to think that this was a fluke. But a good restaurant should serve consistent quality, in my opinion. If I ever go back, and I might, because I want to believe, and my experience changes, I’ll update this post.
Website (French, English): http://www.saigonpearl.ch