Quan Bui opens up a new, gorgeous location smack dab in the centre of the fastest developing neighbourhood in Saigon. Elijah Ferrian digs in. Photos by Vinh Dao.
Tran Danh might be one of the hardest working people I have ever met. He just opened up the fifth location of popular Vietnamese cuisine chain Quan Bui, and shows no signs of slowing down. The decision to open in upstart Thao Dien was a no-brainer. There’s not a ton of competition when it comes to Vietnamese cuisine in this part of the city, and there are so many new houses and developments on this side of the river that Quan Bui migrating to expat wonderland was an inevitability.
Tran creates the dishes himself, and the longer he does the restaurant thing, the deeper he falls into the passion of cooking and crafting creative fusion meals, drawing from traditional Vietnamese cooking while mixing in his own tastes and experiences. “I just love getting out and going out to experience different places and food,” Danh says.“Like any good art there is a lot of mimicking, but making things with your own style is where the fun comes in.”Quan Bui Garden is designed to have a quiet, welcoming oasis atmosphere. There are plants crawling everywhere, a large amount of outdoor seating on plush couches, and a well decorated interior space with large windows pouring light into the air conditioned centre. This location appeals more to families than others, with a playground for children, and at a whopping 250 seats, this Quan is the largest one yet.
The food is seventy percent similar to the fare that one may be lovingly accustomed to from any of the other Quan Bui locations, but at the Garden, brunch has arrived. The breakfast menu (served from 8am to 3pm) is split between Southern, Central, and Northern style combination dishes.
The Southern Sun includes banh xeo Vietnamese pancake with shrimp and chicken, bun thit nuong fresh rice noodles with sauteed pork and caramelised onion, and a ca phe sua da (VND223,000). The Central Green showcases trung cut bach hoa Quan Bui signature rolls with fresh sausage and quail egg, banh hoi cuon nem thin vermicelli noodles with pork paste and lettuce, and banh chanh day cream passion fruit custard (VND229,000).
The Northern twist boasts cha gio tom thit fried spring rolls with shrimp and pork, banh pho chien phong thit bo pan fried rice paper rolls with sauteed beef and vegetables, and a passion fruit juice. There’s also a kid’s menu for breakfast that will be sure to satisfy the little ones while you take a nice, shady morning break with one or two of the phenomenal juices and smoothies that this place churns out. Beetroot, apple, and ginger juice (VND69,000), a maddeningly refreshing lemongrass and lime juice refresher (VND40,000), and the oddly named but awesome morning pick-me-up alternative to coffee in the West India cherry and hogplum juice (VND69,000).
Wandering around in Thao Dien is now easily rewarded with a comfortable, garden food locale for Vietnamese cuisine that’s just as appropriate for hungover adults, as it is for kids that need a refuelling.