Bếp Nhà Xứ Quảng features elegant casual dining and cosy family-like ambience. VNS Photo Minh Phi
At Bếp Nhà Xứ Quảng, Vietnamese diners, especially from the southern region, will feel they have returned home when they step into this downtown HCM City restaurant.
Vietnamese traditional delights in family-like ambience
by Mỹ Duyên
For generations of Vietnamese, nothing is better than to gather family or friends and enjoy traditional dishes made by their moms in their hometowns during the Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday.
However, this year, I decided to stay in the city and spend time with children and friends. My recent visit to Bếp Nhà Xứ Quảng, a Vietnamese restaurant in downtown HCM City, was truly a fine dining experience.
Gà lên mâm (six-dish chicken) is among the signature dishes at Bếp Nhà Xứ Quảng. VNS Photo Minh Phi
Though its name means "home kitchen of Quảng region" (the area belonging to two central coastal provinces of Việt Nam - Quảng Nam and Quảng Ngãi), the restaurant offers a tempting selection of traditional delights from different parts of the country.
The “culinary journey” to the venue gave me a good opportunity to learn more about Vietnamese culture through sampling specialty foods.
Located on Trần Cao Vân Street in District 1, Bếp Nhà Xứ Quảng is designed and decorated like a Vietnamese traditional country house with wooden front doors and windows, furniture, staircases, and tables and chairs. Beautiful trees, flowers and bonsai surround the house, making it cool year-round in the sunny city.
Hến xào xúc bánh tráng (stir-fried river clams with crispy rice crepe and soya sauce), an authentic Vietnamese dish originating in Việt Nam’s central region, is a great start to your meal. VNS Photo Minh Phi
Stepping into the restaurant, I felt like I had returned home. I was impressed with everything in the venue, first its beautiful interior and then its fine food and Vietnamese classic style kitchen equipment such as plates, bowls, spoons and bamboo sticks. All were familiar with local diners, especially those who grew up in the countryside.
For lunch, my colleague and I chose some items with traditional flavours.
The restaurant offers a long list of Vietnamese delights with a focus on those originating from the southern central coastal provinces, also known as Quảng region .
Mỳ Quảng, a noodle soup of Quảng Nam, is a popular lunch item at the restaurant.
Mỳ Quảng gà (chicken noodle), a noodle dish originating from Quảng Nam Province in central Việt Nam, is a popular lunch item at the restaurant. VNS Photo Minh Phi
In Quảng region, Mỳ Quảng is one of the most popular and nationally recognised foods served on various occasions such as family parties, death anniversaries and Tết. The noodle dish features different flavours: chicken, pork and prawn.
Born in the south, I was curious about the noodle dish and so I asked for Mỳ Quảng gà or chicken noodle soup (VNĐ95,000). On the list was also Mỳ Quảng sườn heo or pork rib noodle soup at VNĐ120,000.
My colleague ordered bún mắm nêm xứ Quảng (VNĐ95,000), another Quảng-styled dish which can be served in a big bowl or a large plate. The delicacy features fresh rice vermicelli, grilled crispy belly pork, pickled pig ear strips, beef sausage, ground peanuts, tropical aromatic herbs, baby jackfruits, bean sprouts and salted tiny fish paste, the most decisive element.
My colleague said the dish is a delicious delicacy of Đà Nẵng and it should not be missed when someone visits the central coastal city.
Cơm gà Hội An (chicken rice, Hội An style) is another good choice for lunch at Bếp Nhà Xứ Quảng.VNS Photo Minh Phi
“I first tried the food delight during my visit to Đà Nẵng and it was memorable.” she said.
“The vermicelli was served with the fish paste which had a strong and special smell that not all could stand it. But I am sure that once you can eat the special fermented fish, you will like it. I myself enjoyed it very much,” she said.
To start our meal, we ordered hến xào xúc bánh tráng or stir-fried river clams served with crispy rice crepe and soya sauce (VNĐ130,000 for two).
Sesame rice crisp is very popular among people in the central region. The rice crisp can be eaten as a snack or starter. It also enhances the taste of various dishes from the central region such as Mỳ Quảng, hến xào xúc bánh tráng, cao lầu (Hội An-styled noodle), seafood vermicelli soups and seafood salads.
Stir-fried with well-chopped onions, turmeric powder and sesame, the clam dish was aromatic, spicy and tasty when eaten with rice crisps and soya sauce with fresh red chilli. The dish lit up my taste buds and we finished the whole portion quickly.
For chicken lovers, cơm gà Hội An (chicken rice, Hội An style) VNĐ130,0000 and gà lên mâm (six-dish chicken) VNĐ660,000, are must-tries and are also the restaurant’s signatures.
When it is served, the decadent six-dish chicken dish is garnished in a frying pan with two ears. The chicken combo includes succulent grilled honey chicken, sticky rice cooked in chicken broth, pandan leaf sticky rice with salted shredded chicken, fried chicken wing with fish sauce, chicken salad, and grass noodle soup with bamboo shoot and chicken giblets. The delicacy is the best choice for a group of four or more diners.
Another tasty dish is the fishcake hotpot with wild bitter melon (from VNĐ250,000), a new signature dish at Bếp Nhà Xứ Quảng. Originating from the south, the fine dish was also a must try.
We next came to the main courses Mỳ Quảng gà and bún mắm nêm and we shared the dishes to experience their flavours. It was the first time I had tried Mỳ Quảng. The noodle soup was different from those cooked with a southern style, and its broth and taste were different too.
Though I did not like its flavour, I finished it before dessert. Meanwhile, my colleague enjoyed bún mắm nêm very much.
Among the mouth-watering selection of chè (sweet soups) and Vietnamese traditional cakes starting from VNĐ50,000 per item, I chose bánh bà lai (VNĐ65,000), a three-colour cake of Phan Thiết, a southern central coastal city, and chè hạt sen or iced lotus seed sweet soup (VNĐ55,000) for my colleague.
I don’t like chè without coconut milk so I did not try lotus sweet soup, though my colleague insisted that the lotus was tender, soft and fragrant.
Rich in coconut milk, bánh bà lai was a standout and it delighted my taste buds. I really wanted to try one more, but I was stuffed.
The restaurant is a very nice place and our meal was indeed a memorable one. I want to return soon to discover more special dishes from around Việt Nam. VNS
Bếp Nhà Xứ Quảng Restaurant
16 Trần Cao Vân Street, District 1, HCM City
Tel: (028) 38272709 and 38272703
Hours: 10am-10pm daily
Comment: Vietnamese traditional dishes, especially those originating from the central coastal region, including Quảng Nam Province. Cozy ambience and finely prepared dishes.