• Reservation

  • WINE

    ipad_1
    ipad_2

    At New York Steakhouse, Saigon’s most venerable steakhouse, a casual dining place with white tablecloths, the waiters now greet diners by handing them an iPad. It is loaded with the restaurant’s extensive wine list, holding detailed descriptions and ratings of 100 labels in 3 languages (Vietnamese, English and French).

    Given the old-school setting, it could not seem more incongruous.

    Once patrons make sense of the touch-pad links, which does not take long, they can search for wines by name, region, varietal and price, instantly educating themselves on vintner and vintage.

    The devices seem to be spurring deeper interest in wine and empowering bolder, more confident selections, they say, potentially revolutionizing the psychology of dining’s most intimidating passage.

    – “I felt like they had given me the answer sheet to the test,” said Mr. Nguyen Dung, a NYSH’s regular who recently used the iPad to select a Nappa Valley

    Mr. Nguyen Dung, 43, described himself as a bit of a wine poseur. He has vacationed in Italy and Napa Valley and has a cellar at home, but he cannot remember a label from meal to meal. He knows just enough, or perhaps just little enough, to become suspicious whenever a waiter recommends a vineyard he does not know.

    “In the back of your mind,” he said, “you’re always thinking: ‘O.K., is this some kind of used-car special? Did they just get 100 bottles of this?’ ”

    – “If they build one that can open up a bottle of wine, I’m going to be scared to death,” said Nghia, the master sommelier of NYSH. “When I saw this thing and saw the applications, I said, ‘Oh, man, that’s the end of the print shop.’ ”

    – “Selecting wine is an age-old tradition,” Mr. Herve (GM of NYSH) said, “but the time has come to enhance the experience in the way that we’re used to getting information today.”

    – “I thought the men were going to be playing with it and not talk to each other,” Mr. Herve said, acknowledging that her fears are as yet unfounded. “I just think it’s very important for people to connect. You saw ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’ We do not want to develop a HAL.” (Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer).