Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Quan An Ngon: Restaurant Review

Quan An Ngon means delicious restaurant in Vietnamese. It's a place for wimps, like me. Let me explain. Given the hot, sticky weather and the terrifying traffic it was hard to get my bearings in Saigon. I try not to be a scaredy-cat on vacation, but seeing ingredients that were sitting out in the sun spooked me out of trying more than a few street food specialties.

Fortunately we discovered Quan An Ngon on our first day. This centrally located, clean, beautiful and tremendously popular restaurant that features street food, but off the street, lived up to it's name. A large courtyard shaded by umbrellas and bamboo trees, is filled with stalls where regional specialties are made to order. You can wander around and decide what looks good. As with all restaurants of this sort, not all the dishes are outstanding but everything is so inexpensive you can always choose something else if you at first you don't succeed. Most of the dishes were only a dollar or two and very filling. Service was not the best, but some of that may have been due to language difficulties.

When we got to Hanoi we were pleased to find yet a second Quan An Ngon. Dishes we particularly liked included the banh cuon, a kind of glutinous rice noodle dumpling with mushroom or pork filling. Also the bun thit nuong cha gio, a combination of vermicelli noodles, topped with spring rolls, grilled pork and a tangy dipping sauce was fresh and well, delicious. And I should say, this is not just a restaurant for wimps, but also for locals who outnumbered the tourists at least 10 to 1. We returned several times to both locations and it quickly became one of our favorite restaurants.

Quan An Ngon
138 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, District 1

Quan An Ngon
18 Phan Boi Chau