Aug 24 2013

Quan An Ngon


When we arrived in Hanoi and asked people where we can get some Vietnamese food in a casual place, everyone from the concierge to the doorman to our tour guide recommended this place – Quan an Ngon. Ngon means “delicious” in Vietnamese and this place was great! It was actually so good, we came back here on our last evening in Hanoi for another meal. I never come back to restaurants, especially when I am traveling as I want to try as many places as I can, but the food here was so unpretentious, good and cheap, my boyfriend dragged me back here and I don’t regret it at all.

Quan An Ngon first opened in 2005 and the original branch is in Phan Boi Chai street (about 10 minutes taxi ride from the rich area of Hanoi, where all the hotels, including our one, are located), where we went, and recently they opened another branch in Hanoi. When we arrived, the place was buzzing, and by the entrance there were ladies in small little huts with various ingredients and pans in front of them, ready to cook food. The restaurant is huge and you can either sit inside or outside, the first time we came here we sat inside and the second time outside, and I recommend sitting outside as you see more of the action going on. Also despite the large size of the restaurant, the staff are very efficient and you will be served quickly and your food will be brought to your table in a very short period of time. If you are a foreigner and don’t know how to use Vietnamese rice paper, and have ordered dishes that contain these, they will even make the rolls for you, in front of you. You see a nice mix of tourists and locals there and quite a few locals come here (like the people that recommended we go there) for delicious, reasonably priced food. This place also does seem to have much higher hygiene standards than your average Vietnamese casual restaurant.

Quan An Ngon serves food from all the regions (north, centre and south) of Vietnam but focusing on north (ie Hanoi where the restaurant is located). Also apparently the best skilled chefs from Hanoi work there, according to their website. The food is indeed very good and apparently Quan An Ngon has been voted one of the best dozen restaurants in Asia in 2010, and also voted as one of the five best restaurants in Vietnam in the same year by an organization specialized in monitoring restaurant system in Asia. The food is excellent but you can have some problems that less developed restaurants have, like we had on our second visit, when all the electricity went out and we had to eat half our meal during darkness.

When we came here on our first night, we did not really know Vietnamese food that well, only from when we have had it in London a few times, and so we were a bit lost with the humongous menu they gave us that seemed to have so many dishes there. We ordered the fresh spring rolls with prawns (I think this dish was called “Tom Hap Cuon Banh Trang”), “Nom Lac” (green papaya salad with peanuts), “Bun Bo Vien Gan” (soft tendon beef noodle soup) and my boyfriend also chose to have the “Banh Xeo” (Vietnamese pancake with shrimp and pork that is apparently one of the specialties of this restaurant according to trip advisor and one of the main dishes of central Vietnam) and also the waiter recommended we have “Bu Nuong Muoi Ot” (grilled beef with chilli and salt). All the dishes were incredibly delicious. First came the beef, which was diced and had a side plate full of flavoured salt, so you could take the beef and dip it in there, and it was so simple, yet the salt was so tasty and this was a delicious combination. I also very much liked the fresh spring rolls, which were served with a peanut sauce (as opposed to fish sauce, like most restaurants would do this). The papaya salad was also full of flavour, and lovely.

The best dish though was this Vietnamese pancake that my boyfriend had chosen at random. It was a huge piece of omelette, full of seafood and with crispy edges that the waiter came and cut with scissors in smaller pieces. Then the waiter assembled a fresh spring roll by using Vietnamese rice paper and on to it adding the omelette, lettuce, coriander and mint, and once again it sort of sounds simple, but when you dipped these assembled spring rolls into the sauce and ate them, they were incredible. It was so good we had it again during our second visit to Quan An Ngon. The beef noodle soup they brought us was also delicious, equally good like some of the soups we had on the street a few days later but with much better quality beef.

During our second visit apart from the Vietnamese pancake I also ordered some of the dishes my Frommers guide had recommended, “Banh Hoi Chao Tom Cuon Trang “ which was pounded shrimp hash fried on sugar cane, served with rice vermicelli, rice paper and vegetables, and which also one of the waitresses came and prepared and rolled in the rice paper in front of us. It was not as good as the Vietnamese pancake but still very good. We also had “Xa Lach Ap Chao Thit Bo” and this was sautéed beef with green salad. The beef was placed on lettuce and covered in this most amazing sauce, the sauce actually was so good I ate all the lettuce (and there was a lot of it), even though everyone tells you not to eat vegetables in Vietnam as they have been washed in local water and you can get tummy trouble, but I just could not stop myself eating the lettuce with the sauce (and happy to report did not get any tummy problems).

If you want a casual meal in Hanoi, that will be almost as cheap as eating from the street, you can’t beat this restaurant. This is the perfect place where you come and experiment with Vietnamese food.

Date: 24/ 08/ 13
Location: Hanoi
Price for 2 people with a bottle of beer, and automatically added 5% service charge: £11 (and the 2nd time we went there we paid VND 333,000 for a meal which is around £10, no alcohol, and the 5% service charge)

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Quan An Ngon
18 Phan Boi Chau Street
Quan An Ngon Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 4.5