Taking our stools on either side of a small wooden table, two customers behind us quietly play Balut, a traditional Danish dice-based game similar to Yahtzee, while several others prop up the bar with one hand on their beers and both eyes fixated on the football game being displayed on several flat screen TVs overhead.
A photograph of the proprietor with golfer Tiger Woods hangs proudly over an extensively stocked back bar, while framed prints by the aforementioned Petersen are situated above a hand-painted mural of a Copenhagen riverfront scene, stretching the length of the back wall.
Though also serving salads, pan-western cuisine and Asian fare, with the likes of winerschnitzel, beef stroganoff, meatloaf, and several traditional Danish open sandwiches (ostemad, rule polse, pate lever posteg) on offer, it soon becomes clear that Storm P is a haven for those with a penchant for that timeless culinary duo of meat and potatoes.
Pleasantly, the girls behind bar aren’t merely smiley, uninformed beer dispensers; they know their menu and they know it well. Offering recommendations with a rare confidence not always demonstrated in this city, we agree to the red hotdog, Danish meatballs with cold potato salad, karbonade and cheese kransky sausage.
Served in a toasted bun and garnished with fried onions and several cucumber slices, the red hotdog is a simple yet effective snack. Add ketchup and a locally produced German-style mustard and this dog’s bark really growls. Forget Apocalypse Now, the best hotdog this side of the Opera House belongs to Storm P.
The remaining dishes are brought out thick and fast, beginning with the much-lauded meatballs. They’re delicious. Thick, herby and moist, these three succulent and rounded beef patties work well with the creaminess of the potato salad and sharp sweetness of the accompanying beetroot and pickled marrow.
Our next meal is one unholy son of a gun. Made in Hanoi exclusively for Storm P, the cheese kransky is gigantic. Plump, juicy and containing deposits of oozing melted cheese, the sausage has a smoky flavour that’s complimented by more tangy German-style mustard and offset by an intriguingly fruity-tasting portion of sauerkraut. The only disappointing part of this dish is the fried new potatoes, which could do with more salt, pepper and perhaps garlic.
However, the boiled potatoes that come with our final meal couldn’t be more flavoursome. And though only an aside to the karbonade, they make a lasting impression. The karbonade itself is excellent, as well. Looking like a chicken kiev on the outside thanks to its bread-coated shell, its dense innards resemble a pork-based meatloaf that tastes both sweet and savoury when lashings of the side boat of peppery gravy is poured on top.
Despite its understated and slightly ominous façade, the generous portions of lovingly prepared Scandinavian and Central European fare, made all the more enjoyable by the eye-pleasing prices, means Storm P Restaurant & Bar can be considered one of downtown Saigon’s most underrated dining gems.
Red hotdog VND60,000
Kransky sausage VND150,000
Deep fried banana VND88,000
Food, Interior and Service are each rated on a scale of 0 to 15
13 – 15 extraordinary to perfection
10 – 12.5 very good to excellent
8 – 9.5 good to very good
5 – 7.5 fair to good
0 – 4.5 poor to fair
The Word reviews anonymously and pays for all meals