Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Nha Hang Ngon, Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) by Bureaucrat

During our time in Ho Chi Minh City, we twice ate at Nga Hang Ngon.  Although NHN is the same sort of set-up as the Quan An Ngon restaurants in Hanoi, we didn't realise this until we turned up for dinner one night. 

Similar to QAN, we came across NHN by word of mouth - the concierge recommended it, as did many fellow Aussies that we met during out stay in HCMC.

While there are many similarities between the two restaurants, there were differences in the food.  Firstly, the prices are a tad more expensive, and secondly, the serving sizes are smaller.  I guess that's the price of eating out in a bigger/tourist-orientated city.  

Although after our first visit we were a bit 'meh' about the place, we ended up eating there again because it was a no-brainer when it came to figuring out where to go for dinner (the oppressive heat meant that we weren't keen on wandering around in search for somewhere else to eat).

As Beaker and I had had our fill of bun cha and bun xeo (and Beaker was totally over anything that was served with nuoc cham and/or fish sauce), we ordered different dishes.  The following are dishes that we ordered during our two visits.

However, as always, we got fresh coconuts for our drinks.

For entrees, we got these deep fried spring rolls to share.  We weren't quite expecting them to be like this.  Unlike the ones you get in Melbourne, here they were served as two fat spring rolls, fried and cut up into pieces.  They were served with a mound of rice noodles, peanuts and green leafy bits.  There wasn't any lettuce leaves to wrap the rolls up.  These tasted fine but nothing memorable.

I got the the com nam canh ga chien toi - rice cakes served with chicken wing(s) fried with garlic.  I was rather taken aback at the frugal nature of this meal.  The rice was sticky-ish and served cold, which suited the warmer climate.  Although the menu said it was chicken wings, what I got was a single wing(!).  However, it was a tasty wing - garlicky and lots of crispy bits.  It was served with a small bowl of pickled cucumber and chilli, and another bowl of Maggi seasoning.

Beaker got the com chien quan ngon - 'Ngon' special fried rice.  While this was bigger in serve, there wasn't much in it.  Just some peas and some bits of prawn.  Given the colour of the rice, I think it may have been fried with some tomato sauce.

I didn't really learn from my first visit that some of the dishes here are quite small in serving size.  At my second visit, I got the com suon non nuong sa - steamed rice with lemongrass pork ribs.  While this dish had at nice mound of rice, the three mingy pork ribs was akin to the single chicken wing that I got last time.  The tasty grilled lemongrassy flavours didn't make up for the fact that there wasn't a lot of meat on the ribs (more gristle/bone than meat).

Beaker got the banh uot cha tom chien mo hanh - steamed rice sheets with pork sausage, batter fried shrimps served with onion and oil sauce.  It was also served with two types of pork pate (the white and pink stuff in the bottom) and these triangular, deep fried stuff, which had beans on top, but we weren't quite sure what it was.  This was more interesting as a dish.  The rice noodles were slippery and tasty, but quite oily (cholesterol alert!) - very similar to the steamed noodles that you get at yum cha.  All of the other porky bits weren't to our liking.  That pink thing was pretty much a tightly bound bundle of pork fat/skin.

We also got the com ga xe tay cam - fried rice in clay pot - to share.  This was a real disappointment.  When I order anything in a clay pot, I expect it to be cooked in the said pot.  This, however, was regular steamed rice (with some bits of mushroom and meat) simply served in a clay pot - there was no soccarat (the crispy-burnt-ish rice at the bottom).  And it was served with the semi-ubiquitous bowl of Maggi seasoning.  With or without the Maggi seasoning, the clay pot rice was bland and rather boring.  Given the relative higher price for this rice, we we would have been much better off just getting two bowls of plain rice.

A nice enough place, however, food and price are a bit hit and miss. If I was ever in the neighbourhood again, I'd go elsewhere but use NHN as a back-up option.

Nha Hang Ngon
160 Pasteur, Bến Nghé
Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam

Telephone: +84 8 3827 7131


obelix glutt said...

This place brings back memories of my recent Vietnam sojourn. It has slightly better decor than QAN in Hanoi but I agree, the food is better at the Hanoi one.

Bureaucrat said...


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