HCMC Dining Guide

Monday, December 19, 2011

Reviewed: Brotzeit

Saigon's international dining scene recently received a big boost thanks to the opening of Kumho Link, a place I'll talk more about in another post. This collection of mid-range and higher-end restaurants on the corner of Le Duan and Hai Ba Trung, in District 1, offers an interesting variety of choices, and a few days ago my two roommates and I checked out the one that most intrigued us: Brotzeit.

German for 'bread time', a Bavarian expression that indicates a cozy meal served with beer, Brotzeit is a sleek, spacious brasserie, with seating at the bar, tucked away inside the restaurant, and on the open-air patio, where diners can watch life go by on Hai Ba Trung.
oh hai!

As is expected with anything German, beer is one of the primary focuses at Brotzeit. Every brew offered follows the Purity Law of 1516, a wonderful piece of legislation that basically means every beer coming from Deutschland is incredible. There are several imported bottled beers on the menu - I hadn't heard of any of them - for around 100,000 VND; and four draft beers - Munchner lager, Hefe Weissbier, Dunkel Hefe Weissbier, and the Original Munchner Dunkel - are offered in sizes of .3 liters, .5 L, and 1 L. I tried three of these, and they were all delicious. Rich in flavor and full-bodied, they were leagues ahead of the usual thin lagers that every Vietnamese brewery crafts. They brought me back to the beers I enjoyed so much when I was in Germany last year.

Then, there is the food. The menu offers a range of German and Central European specialties, including beef goulash, a pork knuckle, schnitzel and, of course, sausages. There are also a variety of soup, appetizer, and even pizza options. Since the main courses were a bit pricy (all over 200,000 VND), the three of us each opted for a sausage dish. I sprang for the Kasekrainer, which are smoked pork sausages filled with cheese, and served with sauerkraut and kartoffelsalat (potato salad). The servings were generous, especially for the price, and all three items were fantastic.
The sausages were very high quality, and burst into cheesy goodness with every bite. The sauerkraut was just 'sauer' enough, and the potato salad was rich and delicious - easily the best I've had in Saigon.

We also ordered a basket of the great home-made bread, since it seemed appropriate given the restaurant's name. As we got deeper into our beers it became more and more fun to say the German menu items in threatening tones - schupfnudeln! kasespatzle! - which probably annoyed the man from the Fatherland behind us, but oh well. I also found it quite humorous that the Vietnamese waitresses wore nametags displaying very Deutsch names - Liesel, for example. I struggled to picture these petite frauleins making it in the rolling fields of Bavaria.

Brotzeit is an exciting addition to Saigon's restaurant portfolio, and is one of the only places in the city to serve authentic German food and beer. Mainstay Gardenstadt, on Dong Khoi, is more well known thanks to its longer history, but this new establishment certainly deserves your time. (Full disclosure: I've never been to Gardenstadt.) The beers are excellent, the food hearty and delicious, the service efficient, and the setting quite nice. I will definitely be returning at some point.

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