A casual quan in District 3 full of camaraderie and special Vietnamese comfort food. By Ruben Luong. Photos by Dave Lemke.

By day, 2Ti Quan draws in tourists from the War Remnants Museum like a magnet. By night, locals come in droves, occupying the main terrace and sidewalk. It’s an automatic green light for good food.

Part restaurant, part beer garden, 2Ti Quan is one of many streetside establishments encouraging an nhau, or indulging in drink and snacks. Rounds of beer are compulsory here, regardless of the time of day. Active twenty-somethings, much like 2Ti Quan’s three Vietnamese owners, eat and drink family style to evade the afternoon heat or unwind from a day’s work.

Don’t expect fancy surroundings, as casual deck tables sometimes encroach on the sidewalk at night. Conducive to hanging out, it’s easy to order from the menu as you please. Platters of fried or steamed fish, crab, clams, snails, squid, goat, beef and pork are staples of any Vietnamese quan. But at 2Ti Quan, some of these dishes are given special touches.

Take, for instance, the chiu rom 2Ti (VND 80,000), one of the restaurant’s most popular delicacies. In this dish, fried frog legs are buried beneath a nest of crunchy lemongrass resembling hay. The frog legs are intimidating at first, but they did, indeed, taste like chicken.

Best ordered in multiple servings, the cha gio 2Ti (VND 75,000), or 2Ti eggrolls, is another favourite. Whereas most eggrolls incorporate pork, here they are encrusted with bits of shrimp, banana and mango served with a mayonnaise dip. Six rolls were definitely not enough to appreciate the light and balanced trio of warm, tropical and sweet aftertastes.

These two dishes wouldn’t have been as filling without dabbling leisurely in a standard com chien Hong Kong (VND 75,000), a seafood fried rice dyed green using local kumquats, or a plate of goi ngo sen tom thit (VND 65,000), a lotus root, shrimp and pork salad doused in lime, chilli and fish sauce. They were zesty and filled with simple, bite-sized ingredients.

We only sampled a small bit of 2Ti Quan’s menu, but somehow the table became a sloppy, albeit colourful, mess. It seems any combination of dishes on the menu would be just as delicious. Looking around, other tables give this reassurance. If that wasn’t obvious, one thing was: the amount of beer bottles became too many to count.

11 Vo Van Tan, District 3