Tuesday, January 29, 2013

La Petite Camille: Can't Get Over the Sumptuous Vietnamese Cuisine

Wazzup Pilipinas!

La Petite Camille Vietnamese restaurant has a very interesting name – which I found out later to mean French for “Little Girl, Camille”. The name of the restaurant reflects the French culinary influence of Vietnamese cuisine as Vietnam was actually a French protectorate for many years prior to its independence.

The restaurant had its soft opening just last December 2012 – too bad I have not heard of them earlier – and is made up of the same group that has brought in concepts such as Super Bowl of China and Yomenya Goemon Japanese Spaghetti House in partnership with Mama Fong, owner of La Petite Camille in Millbrae, California.

Mama Fong, the proud owner of La Petite Camille, brought with her the passion for cooking and finds her ultimate enjoyment in seeing her restaurant’s patrons enjoying the dishes she freshly prepares herself using her own unique family recipes. She is very hands on and detail-oriented with her restaurant business in the US and she, along with immediate members of her family, actually still freshly prepare the dishes at the La Petite Camille restaurant in the US.

Following after this culinary philosophy, Mama Fong personally supervised the training of the local kitchen personnel in the Philippines when it comes to preparing the authentic Vietnamese dishes of La Petite Camille. Mama Fong personally prepares the dishes herself as she teaches the local kitchen staff during the 1st month of operation of La Petite Camille in Greenbelt 5. This is to ensure that product quality standards are adhered to at her restaurant.

Many are always in the look-out for anything and everything new. You do know the feeling when life seems to be quite boring when you’ve been doing the same routine – or eating the same dish – everyday. My hunger to try out the new stuff – or food- the world has to offer seems so hard to fulfill. …and the exciting fact about my situation is there would always be really something new to look forward to – and surprisingly a lot more keeps coming in as each day passes. It seems I will never ran out of interesting finds that will forever take over my curiosity….and in this case – my appetite!

The interiors of La Petite Camille are French inspired – from the lighting to the seats to the armoirs and the colors are lively and vibrant yet relaxed and subdued at the same time. The seating capacity inside can accommodate 74 guests.

For starters, the fresh Summer Rolls  were served to our group. The Vietnamese have a strong vegetarian tradition influenced by the deep seated Buddhist values of its people that is why there are many dishes commonly with vegetables as part of the ingredients. For the Summer Rolls, the ingredients include prawns, lettuce, cucumber, rice vermicelli all filled in a rice wraps and served with peanut sauce.

The Combination Appetizer is composed of BBQ Pork, Imperial Rolls, Minced Prawns on sugarcane served with Lettuce, Rice Vermicelli, pickled carrots and radish, and fish sauce.

The Beef Stew Noodle Soup, best served hot, has just the right amount of spicy taste every spicy food lovers will adore.

The Saigon Style  BBQ Pork has a sweet taste that Filipinos will surely love.

The Pad Thai with Prawns  was like  our Filipino Pancit but at an extremely higher level.

The Eggplant with Mixed Vegetables was also a candidate for one of the most recommended dish for me. I sort of love eggplants on every dish like the Eggplant Omelette.

The Prawn Fried Rice  is just like how I love my “sinangag” with all the pieces of prawns.

The House Steak with Mixed Vegetables could also become a best-seller among Filipinos.

I must say I truly loved the Pomelo Salad - in fact I think I was the one who took the last piece of pomelo from the salad. This one I would really recommend!

The Pandan and Yellow Mung Bean was like the “kutsinta” with some coconut dip.

The Vietnamese Jell-O was like our “gelatin” but with several layers.

The Deep Fried Ice Cream was something unique for dessert – just have to eat it fast before it melts – and a beautiful sight for a photo opportunity.

The Deep Fried Ice Cream was something unique for dessert – just have to eat it fast before it melts – and a beautiful sight for a photo opportunity.

The fresh Green Papaya Salad with Prawns was one of the veggie salads available – I love both prawns and papaya so it was a great combination for me. Traditional Vietnamese cooking is greatly lauded for its fresh ingredients, minimal use of oil, and reliance on fresh herbs and vegetables.  Vietnamese cuisine is ranked as one of the healthiest in the world as a result.

What makes La Petite Camille’s food special is the spices and the sauces used for each dish. The recipes for each of them are closely guarded culinary secrets of her family.  The greatest distinction in comparison to other Vietnamese restaurants is that Mama Fong’s own personal family recipes are used for the marination of the different dishes as well as the preparation of the variety of sauces.  As such, only La Petite Camille carries these Vietnamese flavor combinations and variations due to the personal touch that Mama Fong has infused each dish with.

Although the Manila menu will not include all of the La Petite Camille menu items in the US, the same menu items that will be introduced here will have the exact same flavour profile as the dishes found in the La Petite Camille in the US. No additional tweaking was done to the recipes to ensure that Filipinos will enjoy authentic Vietnamese cuisine as it is meant to be enjoyed.

You'll notice that the culinary level of sophistication of Filipinos has been growing steadily over the years. There is a constant craving to explore new flavors and dishes from different parts of the globe. That is why there is already a proliferation of different restaurants either globally-inspired or directly coming from different countries that are vastly setting up their restaurant branches in the Philippines. The Filipino taste has gone so sophisticated that every type of dish has a potential to become a Filipino favorite. A proof of this is how we all appreciated the cuisines at the La Petite Camille Vietnamese Restaurant.

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