Growing up, Vietnamese food always meant Pho and not much else, so I’m glad I’ve discovered that there’s much more to Vietnamese than I had known. It’s such a versatile cuisine, there’s something for everyone, and this is apparent when we walk into La Sen, where there are diners munching on colourful rice paper rolls, vermicelli salads, pancakes amongst other delicious offerings.
Situated on the small dining strip on Perouse Road, there’s no shortage of great dining options, but La Sen proves quite a popular spot when we visit, packed mostly with families. And it’s not difficult to see why it’s so popular, with an extensive menu of all your Vietnamese favourites and plenty of fresh ingredients.
There’s also some more unique offerings including the deep fried quail which we’re excited to see on the menu. It’s not everyday you see quail on offer! It’s like chicken, but more tender, and despite the size there’s no shortage of meat. We’re particularly impressed with the incredibly crispy chicken skin, which is bursting with flavour with the buttery salt and pepper topping.
Another thing you won’t see on menus regularly is lotus stem.
So of course order it.
From the menu description, it appears the lotus stem salad is the same as the Green Papaya salad. With the addition of lotus stem of course. This means you’ll get an additional satisfying crunch from the lotus stem, in addition to the familiar green strips of papaya loosely tossed with prawns, pork, green apple, onions and plenty of fresh herbs.
The prawn crackers appear more to be for aesthetic purposes at first, but actually act as a perfect vessel to scoop the salad. And an additional layer of crunch too. It’s all about the texture!
If you’re anything like me and have trouble choosing from menus, you’ll understand the headache when you come across a menu as extensive as La Sen’s. That’s why the La Sen All in One vermicelli bowl was a no brainer, a selection of all the goodies piled on top of a big bowl of vermicelli.
The toppings are basically a mixed entrée. There’s plenty to keep it interesting throughout, in the form of sugarcane prawn, pork skewers, spring rolls and grilled pork meat. It’s an impressive topping to vermicelli ratio, with just enough vermicelli to balance out the multitude of flavours.
Whilst we know it’s a random addition to our meal, we couldn’t go past the delicious sounding Shaken Beef, as recommended on the menu. There’s something incredibly moreish about the savoury sweet black pepper sauce, and we’re glad we ordered the bowl of rice to mop up all the remaining sauce.