Simple Viet

Simple Viet

Vietnamese food is all about simple, plain tasting goodness. Here are some places where you can find delectable, fresh and flavourful Vietnamese fare!
Xing Wei Chua
Xing Wei Chua

Haven’t had a good Vietnamese meal in quite a while — came across this new Vietnamese establishment named Viet Mama along MacPherson Road whilst en-route to Prodigal Cafe and made a mental note to return to give them a try.

Mention about Vietnamese cuisine and most people would tell you about Pho, but my favourite item to order in Vietnamese establishments leans towards the Bun Cha and Banh Mi — not forgetting my love for Banh Xeo and Bo Ne in more recent times. Wasn’t in the mood to order the Viet Sizzling Steak (i.e. Bo Bi Tet) so I went with the more usual Rice Vermicelli with Grilled Pork and Spring Roll (i.e. Bun Thit Nuong) instead. Glad to say that this was a decision I didn’t regret — there isn’t anything fancy with the Bun Thit Nuong here, which comes with rice vermicelli, pork chop, spring roll, cucumber, carrots and lettuce served with a saucer of fish sauce infused with chili, but the pork chop was the element that pretty much took everything in its stride; hadn’t have quite a juicy slab of pork chop for quite a while, let alone with that sort of caramelisation on the exterior whilst not carrying a porky stench within. The pork chop even comes with a light hint of lemongrass that gives it a hint of refreshing flavour amidst the sweet-savouriness; something which I would totally have on its own for how flavourful it was by itself — especially delicious. Felt that the spring roll added to the bowl here wasn’t quite the deal though — felt a little closer to the local ones here that come off commercial packs sold in supermarkets, though there is nothing else to fault for the rest of the bowl; that springy vermicelli that flavours up as it soaks the fish sauce infused with chili dip for a sweet-savoury note with a slight kick of spiciness when one dips the vermicelli in the dipping sauce, while the vegetables provide a crunch.

Apart from the Rice Vermicelli with Grilled Pork and Spring Roll, the Traditional Viet Baguette is also worth the mention; the bread crisp on the exterior with the insides carrying a bit of a tension for some chew, whilst being stuffed with meat pate, slices of pork and meat loaf within — that mix of textures along with the freshness of the greens, fish sauce infused with Chili and the buttered bread was a flavour bomb that was particularly satisfying. Can’t vouch for the authenticity of Viet Mama’s Vietnamese cuisine since I had not been to Vietnam before, but we certainly left with our stomachs full and our minds impressed — somewhere which we are most certainly looking forward to return to so as to try the other items which they have to offer!

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Chanced upon the existence of Miss Bò Né whilst scrolling around social media quite a while back, but I hadn’t got quite the time to make the trek to Ubi for it considering how this neighbourhood, though beside Ubi MRT Station, is somewhat out of the way from my itineraries most of the time.

Serving a mix of Western and Vietnamese cuisine, Miss Bò Né describes their cuisine as Western with a Vietnamese touch. With the stall being called Miss Bò Né, its needless to say that the item to order would be the Bò Né here; sliced beef served on a sizzling hot plate with chicken pâté, baguette and pickles — not an item unheard of with Vietnamese restaurants/establishments here, but still a relatively uncommon dish In Singapore. Every order is made on the spot; the items being served sizzling hot upon collection to ensure freshness and the desired quality.

Upon settling down at the table after collecting the item, the first thing that hits the senses is the buttery aroma of the mix of ingredients in the hot plate — the buttery sauce is a mix of beef juices from the sizzling beef slices, and butter; a incredibly sinful and savoury combination that is exceptionally addictive when one tears off the baguette to dip, and line it up with the slices of beef, chicken pâté and sunny side-up. The baguette isn’t quite up to authentic Banh Mi standards that some may wish for especially in terms of the chewiness of interior, but otherwise it has some crisp on the exterior, but is light, soft and fluffy — very similar to my ideal neighbourhood bakery baguette in a personal-sized portion. Liked how the chicken pâté here isn’t all that intimidating here — it’s been well seasoned with black pepper for a light hint of peppery spiciness that most should find pretty manageable, and the sliced beef came surprisingly juicy and tender without much of effort required to chew; also would have expected it to come wayyyy gamier but this was surprisingly close to having sliced pork which definitely works for most. Caramelised onions are added for a crunch, while the sunny side-up was the crowd pleaser with its runny egg yolk, but the addition of the pickles helps to add a refreshing crunch which gives a good break between the carbs and meatiness.

Wasn’t expecting much before making my visit to Miss Bò Né which also looks very much like a usual corner coffeeshop stall unit that is usually run by a zi char stall at other coffeeshops. I hadn’t tried the actual item in Vietnam or been to Vietnam even, so I wouldn’t attempt to comment on the authenticity of the Bò Né here — but boy, this was something that I was so glad I made the visit for because it was just my sort of thing; especially that clever use of butter in the hot plate with the juices of the beef, which is a combination that worked so brilliantly with the baguette and the chicken pâté. It’s a little far and out of the way for me so I reckon that I probably won’t be back as much as I would like to, but if I were to live just a bit closer or if it is in the way of wherever I am going, this would work as a satisfying weekend brunch in a coffeeshop without having to resort to unpredictable brunch fare at newly-opened cafes that have yet to figure out their operations.

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Have visited Signs A Taste of Vietnam Pho when they had first opened their doors at Midpoint Orchard. It’s been quite a while since they had moved out of their previous premises and took a hiatus from the F&B scene, but they are now back at a bigger space at basement two of Orchard Gateway just slightly away from the LiHo outlet within the same mall, and also offers a bigger menu that range from Pho, Noodle Salad, Curry Boneless Chicken, Stews to Banh Mi.

The Beef Feast Combo Pho is the “all-stars” combo for those who are looking to having their beef pho here — it features elements such as sliced beef ribeye, sliced beef shin and beef balls all swimming with rice noodles, beansprouts in the usual beef broth that is used for all the Beef Pho here. The broth here is somewhat on the lighter side that seems to focuses more on the herbs; mildly savoury but comes with a fairly clean finish without being too beefy or gamey, though may come across as a little bit bland for some. Otherwise, the beef slices were pretty tender and not particularly gamey, with the beef balls carrying quite a good bite — the rice noodles being slurpy and smooth and the entire bowl was actually quite easy to finish.

That being said, Signs A Taste of Vietnam Pho is that sort of place where it’s not just about the food — but the story behind the individuals. Opened by a couple whom have hearing disabilities, it’s amazing how they have the courage to open up an eatery where most of us may not have the bravery to just strike it out on our own to do business — not to mention the everyday challenges of running an eatery where communicating with their patrons is key, and having to understand the customers whom may not be so well-versed in sign languages. It is heartwarming to see how the establishment seems to be patronised by regulars whom have caught wind of their return, with the owners being so jovial and friendly and the customers ever so patient and understanding with them — a warm gesture and a sight so heartwarming especially when COVID-19 has got us socially distanced like never before. That is the reason why Signs A Taste of Vietnam Pho is a spot that is worth making the visit — an establishment full of meaning and sincerity and worthy of the support!

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Chanced upon the new Lily•s at KAP Mall; the establishment situated just at the corner of the building facing the main road. Serving up Modern French Vietnamese cuisine, the clean, minimalist space offers items such as Pho, Banh Mi and Noodles on the menu, some of which carrying an interesting fusion such as the Spicy Beef Tongue Mala Pho and the Chili Crab Banh Mi.

Opting for something more conventional, the Fish Sauce Pork Belly Banh Mi was a dish that was absolutely flavourful of a Banh Mi. The variant here comes with pork belly, braised with fish sauce and served with Sriracha Fish Sauce Mayonnaise on the side. Unlike the conventional Banh Mi out there, this version from Lily•s comes with diced pork belly rather than slabs or slices — a bit of a surprise for some, but carries a unique character of its own. While some folks may find the diced chunks of pork being a little dry and a little difficult to chew, it seems that they are very much trying to do something akin to candied pork here; that sort of pork belly chunks that comes with a slight chew and coated in a saltish-sweet glaze that is all sticky and dense — provides a punch of flavours against the greens and onions, while the toasted baguette comes all crisp on the exterior and chewy within with margarine spread for a slight umami note with everything going on within. Felt that there wasn’t much of a use for Srircha Fish Sauce Mayo when I was enjoying the baguette, though on hindsight it could have worked if one spreads it across the pork belly chunks — its mustard-esque hint of flavours would have cut through the meatiness of the baguette pretty well.

Given how Lily•s had branded itself as a French Vietnamese establishment, we found it hard to associate the French element with the menu that they are serving — perhaps referring more to the use of French cooking techniques into their food, considering some of the dishes have a very interesting Chinese or local fusion element to them. With the lack of Vietnamese options up at Bukit Timah, Lily•s does make for an interesting addition to KAP Mall and the area — wished they could expand further on their beverage selection and sides to carry a more varied selection, considering how it carries the vibe of a gastro bar that expats would certainly enjoy having an evening drink with the convenience of being near home.

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Came across the existence of Le Cafe Vie5 on social media — felt that their concept was kinda interesting considering how they seem to be an establishment with a focus on specialty coffee, but serving up Vietnamese fare.

Felt that Le Cafe Vie5 seems to knows their stuff when it comes to coffee — it was fairly interesting to even see how they do serve up Vietnamese Egg Coffee (a rather rare find to-date), and the Vietnamese Drip Coffee in both “Traditional” and “Trendy” formats — the latter being a light version using a blend of beans rather than that of a single-origin as it is in the former. That being said, the food item that left the strongest impression for us would be the Prawn Noodle Soup — unlike local renditions of the Prawn Noodle where it an emphasises on a thick, umami flavour, this version carries the clean, light broth that is typical to that of Pho whilst carrying a slight sweetness of the crustacean; works very well for those who dislike the strong flavour profile of local prawn noodles like me. The noodles are closer to that of thick rice noodles; round, rather than being flat as per the typical Pho, and the noodle soup also comes with elements such as wood-eat mushroom, spring onion with lemon and chili sauce available on the side; both of which adds an interesting note to the soup, though we would prefer the soup as-is to retain the sweetness of the prawns. The prawns included here are also plump, sweet and fresh, whilst also coming with sliced pork for a slight meatiness.

Given its location at Upper Paya Lebar Road, the cafe does seem like an idyllic spot to spend the afternoons away especially with a cup of coffee; be it Vietnamese-style or espresso-based. The vibes strangely reminds us of Yahaya Koffeeworks when they were situated at Sembawang Hills; perhaps it is something about the interior decor of the place. Still, if there is one item we would consider ordering again if here, it will be this — simple, comforting and satisfying indeed.

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Hadn’t visited Empress Porridge thus far, though I have heard of how good their food is; needless to say I got pretty excited when I heard about Hoàng Hâu — their latest concept which had opened its doors just a couple of weeks ago at Blk 146 Jalan Bukit Merah. Taking over the former premises of now-defunct Momo Kitchen, their newest venture serves Vietnamese cuisine, ranging from Pho to Bun Cha and even rice dishes — they do intend to offer more items in their menu such as Banh Mi in the future as well.

One of the dishes that clearly stood out from the rest in their menu here is the Freshwater Eel Porridge — a Vietnamese dish that is rarely found in Singapore and a clear choice given how porridge is also pretty much the specialty of Empress Porridge. Not sure what to expect especially given how I have never actually tried such a dish prior to this, but this was something which turned out pretty satisfying by surprise. The porridge itself was congee-like in texture; not too watery and is pretty smooth without being too grainy — what we found really intriguing was how flavourful it was, being savoury-sweet with a slight zippiness from the chili which gives a slight tingle to the taste buds that makes it really easy to eat. The Freshwater Eel comes in thin strips; provides a briny note though does carry some bone-y bits (not an issue to us, but just so you know!) whilst giving a good bite. Pretty comforting overall; something which I really enjoyed despite being one who is not into porridge usually — the medley of flavours certainly made this one that was very easy to finish. Pairs up well with the Sea Salt Lemonade — my all-time favourite saltish and sourish iced beverage that is a great thirst quencher that is refreshing to have with the warm porridge.

Must say that we left Hoàng Hâu pretty impressed; love the Crispy Spring Rolls that they have here which comes with a shattering crisp exterior whilst well-stuffed with pork, mushroom and vermicelli within — one of the few variants around that comes with a balance of flavours from the ingredients without one overpowering the other. Will be back to try the other items someday!

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Hadn’t been to Que ever since their move out of Johnson’s Eatery at Blk 125 Lorong 1 Toa Payoh and into their new premises at 111Somerset. Though pretty much a kiosk stall, I am pretty relieved to find that they do have some dine-in seating at the empty kiosk beside the stall since I had always preferred to dine-in to enjoy the food fresh from the kitchen.

One of the newer items on the menu, the Salmon Bun Cha is something I may actually call a modern interpretation of the classic Vietnamese Bun Cha — one that works especially well if one is looking for a healthier option with the use of fish instead of other meats. While it is no doubt that the combination of the rice vermicelli and the spicy fish sauce dip that makes it so ever savoury yet refreshing and clean, it is the addition of salmon that is cooked in a sweet-savoury sauce for flavour that makes it stand out from the other Bun Cha that I have had — the diced salmon so succulent with its moisture locked in, yet carrying a subtle note of the fish. The addition of smoked salmon also adds a savoury note typical of cured fish that leads to a rather interesting combination of flavours almost akin to having sashimi in the Bun Cha, while the addition of the Viet Fried Spring Rolls add a meaty crunch that provides a textural contrast with the other elements such as the myriad of greens for a refreshing crunch, alongside the peanuts and the shallots.

It’s really exciting to see how Que has come so far — being a relatively unknown coffee shop stall at Toa Payoh when I had first visited to being somewhat of a hidden gem tucked away in the shopping belt at 111Somerset — not only had they are pretty consistent (if not better) throughout the years, but they have also been actively innovating to provide patrons with modern inputs into classic Vietnamese fare. Wishing them all the best at their new location, and I will be back for more when I can!

1/2 Baguette, Grilled Lemongrass Pork, Homemade Pickles, Vietnamese Herbs, Seasonal Salad.

From Naturelle; a new bistro/restaurant tucked away from the crowd at Phoenix Park, occupying a building on its own within the same compound where Boufé Boutique Cafe is located, which also has its own herb garden where some of the produce for its dishes are also sourced from — pretty much a farm-to-table concept here.

Really enjoyed the Linh’s Banh Mi; perhaps one of those that left quite an impression of the late — the baguette was already a star of its own being all shattering crisp, yet carrying a good bite with some tension when one sinks their teeth into the bread to chew, carrying a savoury note from the butter spread in between. What truly impressed us was the Grilled Lemongrass Pork; no doubt juicy and succulent, but it carries a distinct lemongrass aroma that is pretty fragrant and dominates the entire Banh Mi. Other elements such as the homemade pickles give the Banh Mi a refreshing tang to cut through the meatiness and carbs with a crunch, while the seasonal salad was almost similar to the homemade pickles but carried a slightly more savoury flavour from the fish sauce. A very simple, yet satisfying item that would work well for those looking for something not too filling — very flavourful and delicious. Something which we would not mind having again, especially given how the service is pretty on-point, with a relaxing vibe that is away from all the hustle and bustle of town.

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Opening their latest outpost in a shopping mall, Mrs Pho had recently opened the doors of their Vivocity outlet — the outlet being decked in a similar style of their second outlet at Rangoon Road but almost as narrow as their Beach Road store.

Serving up pretty much the same menu as their Beach Road outlet offering an array of sides, Pho, Rice and Dry Noodle dishes, the quality is pretty consistent here (with the exception of the rather dry grilled pork chop served with our Mrs Pho Dry Noodle Combo). Trying the Grilled Lemongrass Beef Sticks for the very first time, it left an impression with its sweet marinade and tender meat; skewered using a stick of lemongrass, the lemongrass helps to add juiciness to the already easy-to-chew beef that falls off the lemongrass so effortlessly, yet also provided a refreshing flavour that help cleanse the taste buds. A fun item to share around the table.

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Opened by the folks behind Moc Quan at UE Square, Moc Cottage is their latest concept situated along Tanjong Pagar Road, which aims to bring authentic Vietnamese cuisine in an upscale setting. Featuring a number of dishes apart from Pho and Banh Mi that is rarely seen in the menus of other Vietnamese eateries here, the Banh Beo Xun Quang is the Vietnamese rendition of the our local Chwee Kueh here.

Essentially Vietnamese-style rice cakes served with shrimp paste, fried beancurd and shallot oil, a serving comes with a portion of six with the shallot oil seperately served in a saucer to allow patrons to add the shallot oil to their own liking. Unlike Chwee Kueh that carries a bouncy texture, the Banh Beo Xun Quang is a little more dense; carrying a slightly more radish cake-esque texture though largely tasteless on its own. We really liked how the shrimp paste added on the top felt like our local Otah; carrying familiar hints of Rempah spices and that spiciness-cum-savouriness that gives the rice cakes some flavour. Topped off with crispy toppings such as shallots and fried beancurd, they give the rice cakes a nice crunch while the shallot oil provides a hint of savoury fragrance that antes up the flavour profile of the entire dish. Something that is so familiar yet with a twist, this is an interesting item that is great to share around the table and fun to have.

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Finally got the time to revisit Que, a Vietnamese stall within Johnson Eatery at Blk 125 Lorong 1 Toa Payoh which is also where Mr. Fish & Chips previously at PoMo is relocated to.

Usually only available with pork, but was whipped up special version with beef by the lady boss who makes the beef upon order. Really like the shattering crisp bread that carried some bite without crumbling down into a mess, also buttered for flavour. The meat was well-marinated and absolutely flavourful; savoury, yet tender and void of any gaminess, while the various greens help add texture and flavour contrast with cucumbers giving a crunch and coriander cutting through the meatiness of the sandwich. The chili padi provided a hint of spiciness when one bites on them; providing some kick as well. A pretty good rendition of the Banh Mi that I would not mind going for again!

Visited this establishment that serves to Banh Mi along Geylang Road in a pretty unpretentious environment with all the right vibes.

Went for the Pork Banh Mi, which features a baguette that is baked fresh in-house, pickles, pork pate, ham and other condiments. Felt that the bread was light and crisp, lightly toasted and buttered for a slight richness while the overall sandwich was more on the meaty side, with the pickles providing a rather light hint of sourness to refresh the tastebuds from the meatiness. Patrons can opt for spiciness here, where chili padi would be added in — the chili padi is immensely spicy, giving the sandwich a real fiery kick that even most spicy eaters would feel the tingle on their taste buds. A pretty good Banh Mi, and one that is certainly affordable at $4.50 in a set with drink; a deal that is undeniably value-for-money and pretty delicious.

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Up, down and everywhere around for food.

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