I was so hungry, and couldn’t wait to go up to the Vietnamese restaurant (the all day dining restaurant is Italian). I love Vietnamese food even when I am not in Vietnam, so my mouth was watering when I arrived at “Square One”. The restaurant is large, attractive, and colorful, divided into sections. It is dramatically lit with spotlights and some natural day light that streams in through the restaurant’s dark brown lattice work. There’s a bar area to the left when you enter, and where seating is also offered, but its location makes it seem like it’s missing out on the action. Don’t sit there unless you’ve just come for a drink in the evening, as you will definitely feel quite removed from the restaurant itself (it also faces out to the hallway entrance which I didn’t want to stare at when eating). When we arrived, the hostess seemed a bit confused and continued to try to persuade us to sit at the bar despite my three clear “no thank yous”. To avoid the wait, reserve in advance. The restaurant goes into full swing at lunchtime. I love the active wok filled open kitchen; it is huge and extends most of the space. There is also a wine bar, juice bar and open terrace. The menu is mostly Vietnamese, but also features some Western selections. This was a bit disappointing to me at first, but I learned to overlook it as there were more than enough local choices.
The Western dishes that are offered do incorporate some interesting and refined ingredients, especially since this part of the menu is regularly planned and developed by a visiting foreign chef. But I only had eyes for Vietnamese cuisine. I focused on rice and seafood with this first meal, ordering wonderful fresh spring rolls, noodles stir fried with crab, and grilled squid. The ingredients are fresh at “Square One” and the dishes are presented in a simple stylish way. The plates are celadon green and banana leaves are sometimes used in presentation. One drawback, which they did change when I pointed it out, was the music! Quite commercial and generic pop standards had been playing; the music had been chosen with no thought at all, it seemed. Once the crowds started to leave, the music was more apparent, and seemed so out of place.