Friday, July 08, 2005

Saivouring Saigon: Quan an ngon

138 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia
Quan Mot, TP. Ho Chi Minh
Tel: +84-8257179

lotus rhizome with shrimp and pork

The walk to the restaurant made magnified my hunger and so when K announced that, we have arrived, I was a tad horrified that there was a rather long queue of about 15-20 people. I tried to take comfort from the fact that if there was a queue, it must have been pretty good. Thankfully, since there were only 2 of us, they managed to squeeze us in somewhere and we had a share a table meant for 4 with 2 other people. I was rather astonished when I stepped in and realized how huge this place was, it sits at least 100-120 people but still has the problem every restaurant wants, the long queues to eat there. (reminded me a little of crystal jade here).

The restaurant has a relaxed ambience and offers a rather unique dining experience. As you dine alfresco, you dine beside the open kitchen, which line the perimeters of the restaurant. Every cooking station has its own task, dessert, drinks, pho, bun, BBQ skewers, etc … The open kitchen gives the restaurant a nice buzz, and the communal dining that we were subjected gives the place some rustic, friendly charm.

Our server was a really funny and helpful man as well. I was really grateful that he spoke enough English to explain some items and also to make recommendations. I can still recall his reaction when I said I wanted to eel and he made a face and recommended something that he liked instead. So, if you are this restaurant, look out for this man.

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Open Kitchen

Nosh: Vietnamese daily foods. The menu is broken up into a few sections, appetizers, pho – the noodle soups, rice soups, rice dishes, bun – vermicelli dishes, meats, seafood and desserts, with about 10 choice on each page, so the selection is quite wide.

For appetizers, we had goi ngo sen ton thit – lotus rhizome with shrimp and pork and banh hoi chao tom cuoa banh trang – bounded shrimp hash fried on sugar cane. The lotus salad was really wonderful. The fresh vegetables and the simple dressing that is both bright and light, makes it such a refreshing dish to eat. The bounded shrimp dish was fun to eat, you have to assemble your own spring roll with the vegetables, the rice paper, the vermicelli and shrimp that is laid before you. I love eating with my hands, it is something that is sensual and so raw about it that makes me feel very human.

Following that, since I had a pho from off the streets for breakfast, I decided to have the bun thit nuong cha gio – vermicelli with grilled pork and spring rolls. I was thoroughly satisfied with my bun which had pieces of grilled pieces of sweet tasting pork with had some fat, and the crispy spring roll against the neutral tasting vermicelli which was quickly coated with the sweet and slightly tangy sauce that came with it.

Pay: We paid 99,000 (VND) for all that we had, inclusive of drinks. The portions are small which suits me, but if you are a relatively bigger eater, you might have two bowls of noodles or maybe more appetizers, but it shouldn’t set your back more than 80,000 VND a person.

*estimated conversions: 1,000 VND = S$1, $0.60 USD

Why I would come back: I like the ambience and the energy of the place, and would go back just to be served by that really amusing waiter again.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been to this place and really liked it. It was busy but the wait staff took the time to help us and the food was great.

11:47 PM  
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Blogger Bob said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:07 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

I was taken here by one of my Sai Gon friends and it was fabulous. Fresh food, great service and friendly staff -- well worth the 9000 mile trip :)

10:08 PM  

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