Sunday, January 12, 2014

Saigon Vietnamese Delicacy - A Taste of Authentic Vietnam Fare in Geylang

Since my October trip to Hanoi, I have been desperately seeking for some authentic Vietnamese fare, and it has been a rather hard search. Thankfully, dashtaz managed to find me one in Geylang.

It is located just a few doors from Rochor Beancurd House and is very humbly decorated. Boon Kiat, who is the owner here, is also very soft spoken and almost borders on the shy side.

His wife, who does the cooking here, is Vietnamese and the fare they serve up is very traditional and features items that you do not normally find in most Vietnamese joints here.

A testament to that authenticity can be seen in the large hordes of Vietnamese eating here. And the items on the menu are numerous and wide ranging.

Sour Spicy Mango Salad

A great way to begin was this very appetizing mango salad. Surrounded by a bevy of keropoks, it had a nice mix of tangy taste and sweetness. The combination of dried shrimps, nuts, mangoes and prawn crackers elicited a delightful tapestry of flavors and textures.

Fried Spring Rolls

Moving on to the spring rolls, this dish was fantastic. Utilizing authentic rice rolls imported directly from Vietnam, the look of the spring rolls was more pronounced, the color had a greater intensity of crispy fried goodness. The skin had an irresistible bite and crisp and the fillings were packed full of flavors and seasoning. A real winner.

Crab and Tomato Soup

This bowl of thin rice noodles immersed in a broth of crab and tomato caught me by surprise. The first few spoonfuls were somewhat disorientating, as there was a distinctive taste of fish sauce that almost bordered on the heavy. But after a quick stir, the acid from the tomato managed to cut through the savory fish sauce and then it started to balance the flavors nicely.

The deep fried crab pieces actually came across more like our otak texture, minus the spicy tinge. The noodles used was beautifully smooth and not clumpy. You could almost taste the rice flavors there. This makes a very hearty dish on a cold wintery night.

Rice Noodles with BBQ Pork

I liked this dry version of the rice noodles even better. It almost tasted like a salad of sorts, with a sweet and tangy sauce coating the delicious rice noodles. What elevated the entire bowl was the inclusion of very nicely barbequed pork pieces which were both tasty and flavorful. It even included some chopped portions of the previous fried spring rolls as well.

Vietnamese Pancake

The highlight of the evening was this amazing pancake that resembled more like a crispy omelette. It was supposed to be eaten with fresh lettuce, but personally, I could just devour this entirely on its own. Cutting through the pancake revealed a filling of bean sprouts and shrimp that had been well seasoned and cooked.

What amazed me was the incredible texture from the pancake skin, which was perfectly crisp and almost hard on the outside, and yet it retained that aromatic eggy aroma when an omelette is perfectly cooked. This pancake is something that needs to be tasted to be believed.

The whole eatery seems to be family operated, and Boon Kiat himself very friendly though somewhat reserved for a restaurant owner. I like the fact that he does not hype up his food when we ordered, and he was happy to let the food speak for itself. And it did.

My favorite food moments in Hanoi were when I had really authentic Viet fare in Yen Dunc village, where everything was made from scratch and cooked fresh, using the produce and ingredients that they grew themselves.

Saigon Vietnamese Delicacy came close to that simple and warm aura I got when I was in Yen Dunc, and the simple hospitality took me back to the generosity of the folks in Yen Dunc once again.

Sometimes, the enjoyment of food should be this simple. Not an overburden of history and facts. Just savor and enjoy.

Saigon Vietnamese Delicacy
749 Geylang Road

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