Travel & Life - October 26, 2018 | 12:34 am PT

Crêpe, Galette: Culinary extracts from a French experience in Saigon 

Little crêperies, ubiquitous in France, can spring a surprise in Vietnam. A Saigon establishment shows how.

Photo by Trung Lam

There are two types of crêpes: sweet crêpes (crêpes sucrées) and savory galettes (crêpes sales). The crêpes, made with wheat flour, can be dessert or as part of a breakfast. 

Galettes are made with buckwheat, usually filled with egg, meat, fish, cheese, vegetables and other ingredients, and can be a meal at all times.

Most Vietnamese know of the sweet crêpes, so the savory galettes are a good choice for those who want to try something new and different.

La Crêperie, courtesy Brittany 

Since opening in 2012, La Creperie Saigon has gathered a following of both Vietnamese and international customers. It prides itself on bringing a slice of Brittany in northwest France to Vietnam.

“We’re in the backpacker area, so we also get a lot of French people travelling in Asia. They can’t eat rice anymore after two weeks and they come here and they exclaim, “oh, we feel like we are at home,” because we also speak French here,” said Trinh Hoang, manager of La Creperie.

The restaurant adopts a marine theme for its interiors, using fish nets, blue stripes, a ship’s wheel and other things, reflecting the fact that the Brittany region is surrounded by the sea. The French-speaking staff and music playing in the background add to the French feel.

Even though the head chef here is Vietnamese, he has been with the restaurant since the beginning and learnt how to create an authentic Brittany flavor, Trinh said.

As the name suggests, the restaurant’s specialties are their crêpes and galettes. The most traditional savoury galettes here are La Complete (ham, Emmental cheese, eggs and served with salad), and its cousin, La Bigoudene which adds vegetables.

“The La Complete is exactly what my grandmother would order in a restaurant,” said Emmanuel, a Breton customer.

For sweet crêpes, Trinh recommends visitors to try their Salted Caramel Crêpe. “It uses our special homemade caramel sauce.”

La Crêperie’s menu features a total of 13 galettes and 20 crêpes that you can choose from. There’s an open kitchen so the visitors can watch the chef as he makes the crêpes. 

Apple cider, a Brittany drink, served Brittany style, 

in a small bowl

Brittany is the second-largest producer of cider in France. Apple cider is usually suggested to customers as an accompaniment to the food. 

Trinh said the apple ciders are imported from France and that “they are easy to drink... go well with both sweet crêpes and savoury galettes”.

The restaurant serves dry and sweet apple ciders, as well as cranberry apple ciders

Apart from crêpes and galettes, the restaurant also has seafood, another thing that Brittany is famous for. Some common dishes like pizza, pasta and stakes round off the menu, so as to cater to a larger clientele in a backpacker area.

And while the focus is on being authentic, a few adjustments have been made to suit the local tastes.

Trinh explained: “French people eat some seafood fresh, without cooking. Asians prefer cooked food, so we changed it for all our customers,” 

These Brittany rolls are quite similar to Vietnamese fried spring rolls, and are served with chicken or beef fillings

Story & photos by Linh Nguyen

Video by Trung Lam