Neighbourhood restaurant serves up quality traditional Vietnamese food at bargain prices. Photos by Brett Davis.

Tucked away at the top end of District 1 in a sidestreet off busy Tran Quang Khai, Quan Bui only opened its doors in late August. Still, it has already gained a following from expatriates and locals alike.

Owner and manager Tran Danh, only 29, is a young man going places. Quan Bui is his second restaurant. The goal for this venture, he says, was to create something typical but also unique. In that the restaurant serves up high-quality and superbly presented food at very reasonable prices and in a very basic, almost Spartan, setting, he has very much achieved his aim.

To cool down on a hot afternoon Tran recommends I try one of the range of juices and smoothies (20—22,000 VND). He orders me an acerola and spondias mix, and although I have no idea what that might be the result is a vibrantly green concoction that tastes herbaceous and deliciously healthy.

For the food, first we try the cuon nam rolls, vegetable filled and deep fried in the manner of Tran’s home village near Nha Trang. Accompanying are three sauces: shrimp, mayonnaise, and tangy lemon leaf.

Next are two dishes in clay pots, a braised chicken with ginger and steamed pork with egg. Both dishes, like many on the menu, come in large and small servings for 35,000 and 55,000 VND respectively. Each dish tastes as good as it looks.

To ensure we get our quotient of vegetables, we tuck into a plate of stir fried Tonkin with jasmine and garlic. The flavours are not overdone but add an extra dimension to the small, green buds of the vegetable.

The final dish was a highlight even among the already great fare, and is proving a popular choice with diners. The spicy clam soup with dill and star fruit is almost absurdly good value at 29,000 VND for a small bowl and 39,000 VND for a large serving. The broth is wonderfully balanced with sweetness from the fruit being followed on the palate by the kick from the chili.

This neighbourhood restaurant should have patrons coming from far afield to sample its accomplished traditional Vietnamese food.

8 Nguyen Van Nguyen, D1. Tel : 08 3602 2241
Open 7 am to 10 pm daily.

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