While no one was looking, New York just got another high-end Vietnamese restaurant in Saju, at the Hotel Mela. The place is in what could loosely be called soft-opening mode, largely because they are still ten days away from a liquor license and are still BYOB. But the food, mostly classical versions of Vietnamese dishes, shows the kind of French influence that comes from colonial occupation, rather than “fusion cooking” per se. (The fact that a Frenchman, Osteria al Doge's Philippe Bernard, is a co-owner underscores its Gallic pedigree.)
Chef Hung Nguyen, meanwhile, was trained under David Bouley and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and his menu is all about delicate but notably Westernized dishes: Vietnamese bouillabaisse with king prawns, grilled marinated pork loin with sautéed mustard greens, pho bo (beef soup) with flank steak. The sleek and elegant restaurant is open for lunch and dinner.
Saju, 120 W. 44th St., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-997-7258.