Traditional Vietnamese dishes, suitable for dining family-style, receive fresh, authentic updates. By Ruben Luong. Photos by Fred Wissink.
Almost every table in Quan Bui restaurant’s newest outpost in District 1 is filled on a recent Friday afternoon. Three flights up, a party of 19 Vietnamese guests share a flurry of local dishes on the restaurant’s Cochinchina-inspired roof garden terrace.
The dishes, prepared in old-fashioned pottery and hotpots and brought from the open kitchen on the ground floor, are colourful and wholesome. They are comprised of traditional ingredients, strictly MSG-free. The new location on Ngo Van Nam Street, which opened earlier this year, is a bigger and refined version of the first Quan Bui at Nguyen Van Nguyen Street, also in District 1.
An 11-page menu, front and back, lists numerous options in English for noodle, pork, beef, chicken, seafood, tofu, stir-fried vegetable and hotpot dishes that range from VND 49,000 to VND 359,000. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, order a diverse set of food and dine family-style. Rice is separate.
A popular appetiser, goi cuon (VND 59,000) is a reliable choice. Spring rolls, arranged in a fan formation on the plate, were tightly packed with oriental herbs, vermicelli noodles, prawn and pork meat. We sprinkled a bit of chilli into our bowl of peanut sauce for some extra spice.
Some of the tastiest mains at Quan Bui are the fish options. Ca file xot chanh day (VND 89,000), which had four fried fish fillets drenched in a tangy passionfruit glaze, was a novel dish. The fruit was tart but not overpowering, and the crispy fillets fractured easily into bite-sized slivers of white fish meat.
Suon non ram sa (VND 89,000), or braised pork ribs with lemongrass, was a spicy counterpart to the passionfruit fish fillets. Each pork rib was covered with potent lemongrass shavings and chilli that left a powerful aftertaste. Served in a silver container, there was more than enough for three people to share.
Not only has the fare been upgraded, but the interior of Quan Bui has too. Mosaics of old French floor tiles are intermixed under wooden tables, producing a modern effect. Quan Bui is onto a trend that’s surfacing in new Vietnamese restaurants: providing a chic and old-world style ambience that parallels a health-conscious, discerning selection of authentic foods.
17A Ngo Van Nam, D1
08 38 29 15 15
8am-11pm, seven days