There’s no better way to learn about family members than to dine together at home or at a restaurant. And, if you ban the Ipad or Iphone from the table, the time together is especially great for strengthening the bond between parents and kids.
During national holidays or birthdays, I often spend more time with my twins and don’t cook much. This year, we decided to celebrate the recent New Year’s Day holiday at The [email protected] Square in HCM City downtown.
The bar, the longest in HCM City, offers 180 seats and 300 bar stools with nightly live music as entertainment. The sidewalk-style dining outpost stretches between the city’s fashionable street of Đồng Khởi and the wide Nguyễn Huệ Boulevard.
The [email protected] Square serves the best selected flavours of both traditional Italian and Asian cuisine using fine seasonal produce and presented with flair.
Prepared by executive Italian chef Giovanni Parrella, The Long provides an eclectic menu of simple, delicious trattoria-style fare which offers guests a fresh inventive take on both Asia and western selections, from tangy green papaya salad and tiger prawns with Vietnamese herbs, to barbequed pork ribs and a glitzy gold-leaf beef burger.
Authentic Neapolitan pizza and pasta, and gelato, are among the central parts of its menu. The popular eatery serves up the most authentic, artisanal pizza in town prepared by master pizza chef from Napoli with the region’s finest culinary traditions, and also offers a gelato bar with 32 mouthwatering, homemade flavours.
You will see why the Long is HCM City’s gold standard for artisanal pizza when you experience legendary recipes that go back three generations, cooked in an imported wood-fired pizza oven, with burrata flown in twice weekly from Italy.
Starting from VNĐ148,000, the pizza features imported flour, premium ingredients and toppings baked in the wood-fired oven.
At the gelato bar, homemade flavours include distinctively regional selections such as soursop, purple sticky rice and salted caramel cashew, among the more well-recognised ones such as gianduja and tiramisu. They cost VNĐ48,000 for one scoop and VNĐ68,000 for two.
My twins could not help yelling when they scanned the gelato menu. So I promised to let them have their choices after we finished our dinner.
Apart from local specialties, the restaurant imports fruit from Italy and France, chocolate from Belgium, and milk from Germany.
Instead of finding a terrace seat from where we could easily see passersby, we chose to have dinner at an inside table with a good view of Nguyễn Huệ Walking Street, where the city’s year-end countdown party often takes place.
Our meal started with crab meat and corn soup (VNĐ148,000) for my twins and a crab and avocado salad (VNĐ188,000) for me. The salad was my favourite. Besides the main ingredients, it included baby spinach, fresh tomato, corn, avocado and a fantastic truffle dressing.
While waiting for the soup to cool, my twins ate almost all of the salad’s avocado topping, declaring it “super fresh and delicious”.
Though the bowl of soup was too much for my kids, they said it had a lot of flavour. “The parsley helped,” said my daughter.
There was a fine selection of imported premium beef, though the family-friendly menu also included fresh seafood, salmon, chicken and cold cuts to satisfy a wide variety of tastes.
A lover of BBQ cuisine, I decided to sample the grilled USDA beef with black pepper sauce (VNĐ798,000/350gram) while my kids asked for lobster linguine with cherry tomato, zucchini and basil.
The depth of flavour was wonderful and the homemade pepper sauce was finely prepared. Though I prefer my beef cooked rare, I asked to make it medium-well for my kids.
My twins enjoyed the lobster and linguine and left the sauteed vegetables for me. “It was the freshest and juiciest lobster we’ve ever tried!” my nine year-old daughter said.
Besides steaks and more formal fare, there is a long list of Italian-style snacks, together with burgers and sandwiches on offer, starting from VNĐ58,000.
The Long’s Asian specialties include assorted spring rolls and pan-seared crab cakes as appetisers, and main courses such as whole fried tilapia, an Asian fish delicacy, and sliced New York strip steak with grilled vegetables and mashed potato.
Aside from a la carte items and combo set lunch menus starting from VNĐ168,000 per two-course set, The Long surprised us with its variety, including slow-cooked sea bass, prawns, clams and cherry tomatoes; roasted baby chicken and lemony asparagus; grilled Iberico pork ribs with garlic polenta and BBQ sauce; fried salmon with sautéed spinach and arugula mashed potato; and live lobster any style, vegetables, mixed greens and roasted potatoes.
I was full after the main course but my kids – who never say no to gelato – insisted on having two traditional flavours, vanilla for my daughter and chocolate for my son, all exquisitely presented.
I had to tell them “keep it for another visit, dear” when they asked for another scoop!
I loved this restaurant both for its fine food and impeccable service. To experience the true lifestyle of HCM City residents, especially in the evening, you must visit The Long! VNS