Viet Nam News
Grilled meats on salt rock and ceramic tiles are the standout dishes at Làng Ngói Đá in HCM City. Mỹ Duyên reports.
The Làng Ngói Đá restaurant may offer an overwhelming number of items, but it’s the grilled beef, pork and seafood dishes cooked on either terracotta tiles or salt rock that keep diners coming back.
Though located in HCM City’s busy centre, Làng Ngói Đá, which claims to be the only restaurant in town that offers these grilled specialities, has a stylish decor similar to a country house without air conditioning.
Scrumptious: Prawn half-cooked in sweet-sour sauce with red chilli, onion, garlic, and cilantro is a highlight of the restaurant.
The menu features locally raised premium beef and pork and carefully selected seafood, chicken and ostrich, with prices starting at VNĐ69,000 (US$3).
As recommended, my colleague and I began our weekend feast with the most popular dish -- a prawn appetiser in sweet-sour sauce with red chilli, onion, garlic and cilantro. The price was VNĐ160,000 ($7) for 200 grams.
The dish consists of two items: a prawn head that is deep-fried, accompanied by chilli salt, and prawn body half-cooked in a sweet-sour sauce, with a side of homemade green chilli sauce.
“Most of our customers choose this prawn delicacy whenever they visit us,” Ngô Anh Tú, owner and manager, told me.
While I’m not usually a fan of raw fish, I enjoyed the sweet rich taste of the partially cooked prawn. In fact, it was the freshest prawn I had ever eaten.
But, we had to leave room for the grilled dishes that are the “pride” of Làng Ngói Đa.
We settled on a salt rock grill at VNĐ290,000 ($13) for our main course, a large combo of fresh beef, pork belly, shrimp and cuttlefish cooked on a square-shaped salt rock heated by charcoal.
Wonderfully aromatic, the dishes were exceptionally flavourful.
“We don’t marinate or put spices on foods grilled on salt rock. We want our customers to experience the natural salty taste and exceptionally aromatic flavours from the freshest cuts of meat and seafood,” Tú said.
The grilled beef, pork and seafood can be wrapped with rice vermicelli, herbs and lettuce, and served with passion fruit sauce. Or, the dish can be enjoyed with just green chilli sauce.
Fresh off the barbie: Fresh seafood, beef and pork belly grilled on a square-shaped salt rock is the most popular BBQ item at the restaurant.
Grilled meat dishes cooked on terracotta tiles are another highlight at the restaurant.
Ribs with honey (VNĐ82,000 or $3,7), spicy ribs (VNĐ82,000 or $3,7), BBQ ribs Korean and Thai style (VNĐ85,000 or $3,9) are all on offer.
“Tiles that are not overheated cook the meat to medium, and it’s not dry. It keeps all the flavour and taste of the delicious marinade. The tiles are non-toxic,” Tú said.
We sampled the beef with 29-spice powder for the price of VNĐ190,000 ($8,6). The dish included a selection of vegetables such as grilled eggplant, corn and okra.
As it was marinated for a minute before grilling on the tiles, the beef was juicy with a delicate aroma.
For those who love to have heartier fare that will fill you up, the restaurant offers hotpots from VNĐ150,000 to VNĐ200,000 each, enough for two or three persons.
Fried rice, which starts at VND60,000 ($2,7) for two, can be ordered with seafood, beef Malaysian style, eggs or salted fish.
I heartily recommend a visit to the restaurant. Its delicate dishes, prepared in various ways that can only be found at Làng Ngói Đá, contribute to a dining experience not to be missed, and one that is also surprisingly affordable. VNS
Làng Ngói Đá Restaurant
Address: 18A/39 Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai Street, District 1, HCM City
Opening hours: 4:30pm -11pm
Comment: good location, fantastic grilled dishes, cosy ambiance.