Last Sunday we went to Basilico at the InterContinental Saigon Asiana for an Italian meal.
"In Italy, Sunday is our day for pizza. The servings (at Basilico) are quite big so we could share," suggested my friend from Torino, Italy.
With its fountain, stone columns, and walls beside glass walls with a view of the shady street outside, Basilico evokes the city of Roma.
Around the bar area, bunches of dried garlic and cold cuts hang down with the traditional welcoming sight of Italian desserts on the sideboard.
There is also a terrace where patrons can sit under white umbrellas and coconut trees.
We had a table next to the terrace where I could see the light of the pizza oven in the corner and life outside through the glass walls.
For starters, we ordered pan-fried foie gras with mashed potato, and a Greek salad that included feta cheese, olives, tomatoes and cucumbers.
Next up was pan-fried sole in a morel cream sauce, and grilled vegetables.
Since we were in an authentic Italian restaurant, ordering pizza or pasta was a must. We opted to share a medium vegetarian pizza with bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms and pesto sauce.
For dessert, we chose tiramisu and caramel cake, and some ice cream.
InterContinental Asiana Saigon
Corner of Le Duan and Hai Ba Trung streets in Ho Chi Minh City's District 1
Tel: (08) 3 520 9999
The servings at Basilico are more generous than in other upmarket restaurants in town. Indeed, they are big enough to share with two friends.
It took us no time to gobble down the pan-fried foie gras with mashed potato. The grilled vegetables also went down well, and the desserts were something else again.
Though we were almost full after all this food, the thought of ordering more was tempting.
There were still a dozen types of pasta that we had to leave for another time, as well as focaccia, panini and grilled piadina.
"Next time we'll try penne pollo pasta (mushrooms, chicken and pesto), risotto mushrooms and Barolo wine sauce, and pizza with four kinds of Italian cheese," said my friend, who was already thinking of the next Italian dinner as she was finishing her tiramisu.
If you are a big fan of mushrooms and Italian cheese, Basilico is the place to go. Mushrooms are a common ingredient in the restaurant's pizza and pasta.
As examples of what our full stomachs made us postpone to a later date, the menu listed sautéed mixed mushrooms, seafood pizza with salami and olives, vegetable pizza with mushrooms, pizza with ham, mushrooms and mozzarella, and penne emilia with ham, green peas, mushrooms and cream sauce.
And the prices are reasonable too, with a set lunch at Basilico starting from VND255,000 to VND335,000.