Tuesday, June 28 2022

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Quán Ăn Ngon's excellent Vietnamese cuisine is back

Update: May, 22/2022 - 08:02

 

BACK TO BUSINESS: The renowned restaurant has reopened, and is looking even stronger than before. VNS Mỹ Hà Photos

by Nguyễn Mỹ Hà

When many eateries in town re-opened for business, for a while Quán Ăn Ngon (Ngon Restaurant) had not and it felt like things hadn't quite returned to normal in the capital city of Hà Nội.

The restaurant has been such a fixture in the dining scene in this part of town, near the Train Station, close to the South-Gate area, where many delicious smaller eateries dominate. 

Quán Ăn Ngon has been a safe food hub for a large group of diners. Families. friends from other cities visiting, overseas Vietnamese coming home for family reunions and lots of travellers, who want to make sure they get good food and open space, all love to drop in. 

Just last week, we decided to visit the typical restaurant, for the first time since the pandemic wreaked havoc on the country's health, economy and culinary sectors, all at once. 

Though we're not picky with our food, our small group has such diverse, even opposing, appetites that they are best met at Quán Ăn Ngon. 

PERFECT PANCAKES: Giant 'bánh xèo'. The southern delicacy is served with pork belly and shrimps stuffing.

It was a holiday, and we wanted to get out of town, but after an hour of cruising through slow and packed streets, we still couldn't get on the lane to one of the city's seven bridges crossing the Red River to go north, so we decided to make a U-turn. 

"Staying faithful to the capital" used to be a slogan used during the war against the French in the middle of the last century, but now, it's a trendy phrase thrown around by netizens when they get stuck in town due to overcrowded traffic during public holidays. So, we decided to stay faithful to the capital.

If we had gotten out of town, we would have had lunch in a suburban restaurant with great local food, and then gone sightseeing for a bit before going home. The trip would not last longer than a day but still count as a getaway. 

Nevertheless, we arrived early at Quán Ăn Ngon, and we were lucky we could secure our seats in the large yard under the shade of a giant tree, as we had not booked. 

My companions decided to have a bowl of beef noodle soup (VNĐ 75,000), a rice paddy crab vermicelli soup (VNĐ 75,000), a xèo crepe, a delicacy of the south (VNĐ 155,000), and roast minced pork and shrimps on a sugarcane stick with angel hair noodle buttons. 

TRADITIONAL DISH: Minced pork on sugarcane stick rolls with veggies.

Next to us was a big table of about a dozen people, one-third of them children, who had just finished ordering before us and were waiting. 

More and more people started to come. They ordered later than the table on our right, but by the time we finished our food, they still had received only appetisers. The man sighed, "We got enough food to keep our driver full, now we're going home for food."

The manager on duty worked hard for all to see, and we feel great sympathy for her, but she said that they were hiring new waiters and waitresses, and they had not been trained to work quickly under such pressure with a large influx of customers.

However, the restaurant has proved its reputation in the city dining scene, where many small and even medium-sized businesses were wiped out due to the pandemic and the closures it entailed.

You may notice that the price of a bowl of noodle soup is double that of a pavement food stall. But still, people want to come for the food, such is the restaurant's fame. 

Last but not least, we decided to have Ngon's signature sweet soup mung bean-based dessert: sương sa hạt lựu (VNĐ36,000). Though effectively a drink, it will serve as a nutritious and delicious dessert for anyone who has a sweet tooth. 

I would have easily traded my meal for this heavenly glass of sweets, but then it would be quite stingy not to have a proper meal at such a pleasant nice place. 

Ngon is back in town, and so we can say Hà Nội is back to its normal life. Though some of our familiar delicate snacks are not yet back on the menu, we are sure they will come back soon, such as the divine little green rice cakes (bánh cốm) priced at VNĐ30,000 apiece.

For a popular restaurant with a vast array of fresh Vietnamese dishes, Quán Ăn Ngon is not to be missed. VNS

 

 

 

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