Rising in levels like a manor from a medieval fairytale, Quan An Ngon is one of the most popular restaurants in Ho Chi Minh, housed in a renovated Vietnamese mansion with a tree lined garden and staff waiting to greet guests wearing traditional silk outfits (complete with wooden shoes). Inside Quan An Ngon Restaurant, the expanse of teak, ornate Chinese inspired lattices and surrounding balcony have all the hallmarks of a classic kung-fu movie. Visitors are often delighted with the classically styled interior. If you are looking to try many casual Vietnamese dishes – spring rolls, black pepper crab, noodle soup – in a clean and friendly environment then this is an excellent option. Located opposite the Reunification Palace on Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa Street, Quan An Ngon Restaurant is centrally located in District 1.
The decor features carved elephant tusks (I don’t know if they’re real ivory or not), exotic landscape paintings and many cooking stations where chefs are busy barbequing king prawns, rolling spring rolls or blending fruit smoothies. It isn’t fine dining, but it is a lot of fun and has a charm akin to a quaint market. There’s a gentle buzz of chatter and laughter blowing through the restaurant. The menu is clearly laid out with tourists in mind as everything has English and Vietnamese descriptions and most have an accompanying picture. The fact that Quan An Ngon is popular with locals as well as tourists gives it a sense of authenticity, and although the staff are rushed and often need to be waved down, everyone speaks the requisite amount of English and they will often recommend dishes with a simple explanation. Prices are extremely reasonable with main dishes starting from 50,000 VND ($2.50 US)
All regional specialities are on offer at Quan An Ngon Restaurant meaning you can eat your way around the country in one sitting. From the south there are oc len xao due (mud snails in coconut milk), which have a soft texture and delicately flavoured, and goi cuon – commonly known as summer rolls in English – making a particularly excellent appetiser: soft, almost transparent spring rolls stuffed with shrimp, basil and spring onion. They are light and fresh, perfect after an afternoon’s traipsing around the city. From the central region of Vietnam there are Hue and Hoi An style noodles, while the northern specialities include pho bo (beef noodle soup) and banh tom ho tay (crispy pastries filled with minced shrimp).