What started off more than a decade ago as "Quan An Ngon" (Delicious Cafe) has metamorphosed into "Nha Hang Ngon" (Delicious Restaurant). This place is tourist-central, where Western visitors are more likely to outnumber anyone else as they dig into sanitised Saigon street foods set in the leafy courtyard of a colonial-era mansion.
9 out of 10 visitors to Saigon would have been here, a place where waiters with at least basic English language skills assist foreigners to bridge the communication gap and try those street foods they'd always seen being hawked in the city streets by squatting vendors, but had been unable (or unwilling) to try.
These are served with "tương xào" dip made from "tương" (a Vietnamese fermented soybean paste).
The first time I tried bươu nhồi thịt was at Quan An Ngon in 2006. I thought it was the most delicious thing I'd ever tasted then. It still is now.
Vietnam's answer to Thai som tam - not as assertive as its Thai counterpart, but still a wonderful balance of sweet-salty-sour flavours. The Vietnamese love to add shellfish to their salads.
The first time I had bún riêu cua was not in Vietnam, but in one of Paris' Chinatowns, where my Parisian friends referred to it as "red pho". But there's no beating the *real* thing in Vietnam, especially the crab-meat/minced pork quennelles and coagulated pig's blood.
Bánh xèo are savoury fried crepes made of rice flour, water, turmeric powder, stuffed with slivers of fatty pork, shrimp, diced green onion, and bean sprouts. Southern-style bánh xèo contains coconut milk in the crepe batter.
Chuối Nếp Nướng are bananas encased in steamed glutinous rice and wrapped in banana-leaf parcels before being grilled over a charcoal brazier till the glutinous rice is crisp and golden on the outside.
The grilled banana-glutinous rice cakes, unwrapped from their banana leaf casing, cut up, then smothered with coconut creme and topped with toasted peanuts & sesame seeds before being served.
The whole place is so full of foreign, mainly Western tourists, you'd feel like you're at San Francisco's Slanted Door than in Saigon itself.
Nha Hang Ngon
160 Duong Pasteur
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Tel: +84 8 3827-7131