PEr FYI

November 17, 2018

Glow, Ho Chi Minh City…perfect for an undisturbed pint in the moonlight

Nowadays it’s a race to the top as everyone vies to head up to rooftops for cocktails that little closer to the stars.

Thirteen storeys up at the President Place building in District 1, Glow boasts a laidback atmosphere with plenty of tropical trees, black-and-white furnishing and spacious dancefloor. There are fabulous views whichever way you look. The place hum with the sort of vibe that practically demands a second bottle of white be ordered.

It’s perfect for an undisturbed pint in the moonlight. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

glow sgn2

glow sgn1

Advertisements

October 27, 2018

Van Phong Kien Truc Su Tran Binh, Ho Chi Minh City…the flavours are pure Vietnamese.

Contrary to other Asian cuisines, most Singaporeans have only a lukewarm love affair with Vietnamese food.

Enter Van Phong Kien Truc Su Tran Binh, which helps the Vietnamese food scene step up a gear. If you’re already a fan, this could become a favourite. If you’re not, it might just convert you.

The food is full of bright, fresh flavours, with an abundance of fragrant herbs and minimal use of oil. Try the superb dau hu trung nha lam – home-made tofu with egg. But why stop there? Choose the Thit kho trung – pork stewed with egg and the squid fried with fish sauce and also the climbing perch stewed in claypot.

It’s not great. But it’s good. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

van phong kien truc su tran binh hcmc1

September 30, 2018

Saigon Vespa Tours, Ho Chi Minh City…enjoy the thrill of living life like the Saigonese

Getting on a scooter in one of the busiest cities in the world with a stranger seemed like a sensible idea. Walking is not popular in Ho Chi Minh City – a city with 7.43 million motorbikes – so being on one is the ideal way to see the buzzing centre of Ho Chi Minh City.

My heart was in my mouth as scooters, taxis, buses and bikes came at me from every angle. Though it sounds scary, the fact is that negotiating Ho Chi Minh City’s night traffic on the back of a vintage Vespa turned out to be exhilarating. Strangely, the breeze on my face; the exotic smells of spices; the people watching; the bustling night markets and the neon lights of the bars and massage parlours, all began to have a hypnotic effect. In accordance to our request, the first pit stop was at Lesbian Sisters bahn mi. They had bought the bahn mi and that saved us waiting time. We devoured them within 20 minutes on the roadside. Before we can digest all this, we were off to a trendy skybar – Glow. After a quick drink and soaking in the view, we were drive to a restaurant of our choice.

While you don’t ride around in luxury, that was never part of the deal, the tour gives you a chance to experience life as a local, being exposed to the thick smog emitted from the scooters. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

vespa sgn1

vespa sgn2

vespa sgn3

September 2, 2018

Banh Mi Huynh Hoa, Ho Chi Minh City…feast upon mouthfuls of incredible flavours

Banh Mi Huynh Hao is better known as Lesbian Sisters Banh Mi. The reason being that the store was opened by a lesbian couple and was originally staffed by an all-lesbian workforce.

Here, the banh mi (which translates simply as “bread” in Vietnamese) the once humble pork and pickled vegetable sandwich now elevated to heights of gastronomic chic. Banh Mi Huynh Hao is a street food stall that serves a baguette stuffed with a plethora of coldcuts, pate, spicy mayo, and fresh vegies. It is freshly made in front of your eyes and made to order. It is made to excite. The freshly baked baguettes which are kept warm in a charcoal-fuelled oven tend to be particularly airy and crumbly. The flavour was slightly sweet and extremely moreish.

This surely is Ho Chi Minh City’s finest Vietnamese cuisine. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

banh mi sgn2

basnh mi sgn1

 

August 19, 2018

37th Street, Ho Chi Minh City…satisfy my cravings for authenticity

Walking into 37th Street feels like wandering onto a stage set where lowered wooden tables and benches, the stone pavement, the dessert cart and even the cutlery allude to the street food which influences the menu.

The vast majority of those on the menu we try burst with excitingly vibrant flavours. I had the Pho dak biet pho – pho with rare sliced beef & well done plank and beef meat balls. It was a big bowl. Nevertheless, the bowl was soon empty. It’s deceptively crystalline, belying its lushness. The steaming, perfectly balanced broth is remarkably light and carefully flavoured.

This pho is the drug of choice. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

37th st sgn3

37th st sgn1

 

April 5, 2015

Cau Go Vietnamese Cuisine, Hanoi…Flavours are full and true

Vietnamese food to me, has been ever the bridesmaid, never the bride. But things changed after my visit to the modern, casual Cau Go.

Upmarket Cau Go is right downtown, has sweeping views across Hoan Kiem Lake. It may not quite be fine dining in vibe or price, but it’s a step above most other Vietnamese restaurants in town. The food was exquisite – every dish was so unique but flavoursome! And the service was fantastic as well!

The rich and fragrant flavors of the stewed beef shank with ginger is the all-star comforting dish I love here. The wok fried clam with local basil looks and tastes like a million bucks. With fresh basil perfuming the whole thing, it’s no wonder this dish is the most popular dish on the table. If only I could eat this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner everyday!

For authentic, top-notch Vietnamese food, make a beeline to Cau Go and get stuck in. The excellent food still lingers in my memory. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

cau go hanoi

March 21, 2015

Cha Ca La Vong, Hanoi… so exceptional that there is a street in Hanoi dedicated to these grilled catfish

Cha Ca is an iconic, delicious dish which also happens to be the name of the restaurant in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. With an unassuming external appearance the shop would be easy to miss. There’s very little to appreciate in the dining area: it’s just a room with wooden tables and chairs, a large shrine on the wall and a cabinet full of dusty looking bottles of alcohol.

So what exactly is cha ca? It is a mixture of chunks of grilled, smoky catfish, turmeric, dill, shrimp paste, fish sauce, chillies, noodles and other herbs. Once the various components are assembled, the cooking is fast, and the payoff is worth the effort. I don’t think there are any set rules in terms of how you eat it. We dished a few noodles into our bowl, put a few pieces of fish and vegetables on top, poured on some fish sauce and scooped it up with chopsticks, interspersing a mouthful of herbs every now and again. Probably not the Vietnamese way, but it worked

So is it any good? It is so delicious and aromatic and the complexity of the resulting well-balanced flavors will surely leave you craving for more.

Hanoians consider cha ca to be so exceptional that there is a street in the capital dedicated to these fried morsels of fish. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

cha ca hanoi

February 12, 2015

Pots ‘n Pans, Hanoi…don’t read this on an empty stomach, unless you’re into drooling uncontrollably

Let me just begin by saying that I love this place! Customer Service is great! This restaurant is the merging of traditional Vietnamese flavors and textures in innovative new ways  and beautifully presented in portion sizes that won’t leave you popping out for a late night bowl of pho. On my visit it never got packed, or too loud, or hectic. The pace was slowed down. Which is fine, because debating what you’ll order may take time.

To start, they serve you with crispiest turmeric bread you will ever taste… with the olive oil dip and three levels of spice to add, they are so yummy! The twice cooked pork belly with beetroot puree, apple compote, pickles and Vietnamese herbs ticks all the boxes for pork belly punters like me, with large chunks of meat that is all crispy skin on the top, soft and juicy everywhere else. This, right here, is what dreams are made of. The grilled king prawns with lemongrass, lime leaf, mushroom satay pudding and Vietnamese herbs were beyond succulent; insanely flavorful, awesomely rich. I nearly licked my plate! Well, to keep it classy, I scraped it clean with my fork. And if you have not had the crispy banana spring rolls with chocolate sauce and cinnamon ice cream, get off your computer, get your keys and go… Like right now.

As you may expect, Pots n Pans isn’t cheap but just by these 3 dishes I would recommend this place and come back again. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

pots n pans hanoi2

pots n pans hanoi

January 17, 2015

Ngoc Hieu, Hanoi…great no-frills Vietnamese beefsteak

Ngoc Hieu was packed with locals the night I dined there — a good sign for any Hanoi restaurant. This steakhouse offers a different and interesting variation on steak and eggs. The food quality is good, the portions fair and for the price, what you get is a great deal.

The Original Steak is Hanoi beef steak with omelette, beef sausage ball, French fries, green onion, tomatoes served in oil spitting sizzle plates. Best to sit away from the table and wait a minute or two before lifting the lid on the mini-eruption. I see the local diners around me getting their bread to soak up any grease that may have accidentally slipped off their fried meat or fried eggs or fried fries or something. The healthy bit of the meal were the accompanying plate of cucumber pickle and the tomato on top of the meat. The beef pate was minced beef with eggs and original sauces. There’s also French fries, salad mix with ranch and thousand island dressing to accompany. In both plates, the beef was well marinated and somewhat tasty.

Beware — wear shoes that have plenty of traction, as the greasy floors here double as skating rinks. Overall, the workers and cooks are very clean and hygienic (all the cooks wear gloves). The waitstaff are efficient (although very little English) but the menu is in English and Vietnamese so pointing works quite well.

It’s so addicting I wanted to buy some more to go!  This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

ngoc hieu hanoi

ngoc hieu hanoi2

IMG_0073

IMG_0074

April 29, 2012

Nha Hang Cha Ca La Vong, Ho Chi Minh City…Don’t bother to eat here

Cha ca la vong – a very popular Northern Vietmanese dish – is catfish fillet marinated in tumeric plus sauteed onions, garlic, roasted peanuts with tons of dill.  This fish is served on a sizzling silver platter with a plate of fresh lettuce, herbs, and rice vermicelli. The sauces served with this dish are the shrimpy fish sauce and the regular mixed light fish sauce. There is also crispy fried sesame rice paper served with this dish.

After having sampled this authentic Vietnamese dish in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, I’m finally starting to be able to distinguish great cha ca from the so-so stuff, and honestly the stuff here is a little below so-so.  It’s kind of too light here. The turmeric marinade isn’t as pungent (in a positive way) or strong as it usually is. The shrimpy sauce and light fish sauce are also a bit too light. They also use a different sesame rice paper than is usually served.

Nha Hang Cha Ca La Vong sounded good as a local place that has been going for 5 generations serving only one dish. The only positive – they do have a nice interior design.

 

The search for good cha ca in HCMC continues…..

This is the true truth as I say it as it is…..

Older Posts »

Blog at WordPress.com.