Asian pilfering of Western design is not limited to Louis Vuitton handbags and Rolex ripoffs. It also includes logos, which is why I wasn’t surprised to come across a bar called Le Pub in Saigon with a suspiciously similar logo and colour scheme to Le Pub Universitaire in Quebec City (review). Far more surprising was the inclusion of “Quebec Poutine” on the menu. Thumbs up for getting it right and not calling it “Canadian Poutine.”
Le Pub is located in the middle of the backpacker area in Saigon and is consequently full of expats and travellers. Its understated interior design of black, white and red is effective, looking like a toned-down version of its Quebec City namesake without the flashy lighting effects. Several tables front the busy alleyway for those who prefer watching the motorbike traffic.
Since the bar was offering 2-for-1 specials on its $2 cocktails, we began with some Singapore Slings and a Caipirinha, decently mixed and good value. I asked the Vietnamese bartender if the owner was from Quebec. He surprised me by saying that the management was Australian. There were no links whatsoever with Quebec aside from the presence of poutine on the menu. Needless to say, the poutine also had no link whatsoever with its Quebec namesake.
Fries: Krinkle kut fries straight out of the bag. These are not appropriate fries for poutine, but greater sins have been committed. The fries are a little too big but were well cooked, providing a nice balance of crispy exterior and soft interior. 19/30.
Sauce: Nice oily beef gravy that blends well with the cheese. Tastes like proper gravy made with stock rather than something out of a can. Not too hot or cold, not too salty, but a bit more wouldn’t hurt. 40/50.
Cheese: Grated cheese is an aberration but, in all fairness, it’s probably impossible to come by proper cheese curds in Vietnam. Le Pub uses a sharp hard cheese as a substitute. It tastes like Emmental. It’s surprisingly tasty, giving a pleasantly sharp edge to the sauce. However, in the absence of real curds, cubes are always a better substitute than grated cheese. Cheese portions are also a little stingy. 6/20.
TOTAL SCORE: 65/100
Verdict: It’s not really poutine, but the gravy/emmental combination goes well with the fries (and the cheap drinks).
Value: Average – 75,000 Dong ($3.75). Not great value for Vietnam, where a proper meal can be had for less than a dollar. However, it’s an okay price when compared with other restaurants and bars geared toward backpackers.
Location: 175/22 Pham Ngu Lao-D1-Ho Chi Minh City. There is another branch in Hanoi’s Old City.