Xin Ciao

Two classic cuisines—Italian and Vietnamese — come together beautifully at this charming eatery in District 2

We headed over to Pho Ong Tay (39 Vo Truong Toan, Thao Dien, D2; 090 246 2934), for a late lunch. I knew little about Pho Ong Tay, only that they specialized in Italian and Vietnamese food—pho and spaghetti. Pulling up outside the first thing we noticed was how much vegetation cascaded over the brick exterior. Once inside, plants are placed all around the small, but airy room, adding to the welcoming setting for the eight mosaic-tiled tables and bar-style seating in front of the windows.

IMG_0753

Inside were touches of Italian brickwork, with the open wall space covered in the day’s specials and drink lists written in chalk. The décor offers a homey, relaxed atmosphere.

Before we ordered Italian chef Manuel greeted us. He works alongside the owner and his future wife, Trang. Affable and enthusiastic, Manuel was proud to tell us the ingredients he uses are all natural—no chemicals, no MSG and no emulsifiers— and how he makes everything from scratch, from the breads, cakes and pastries to the pastas and sauces. As he put it, “I’m Italian, we don’t compromise with food.” Trang proudly added that Manuel is a trained five-star chef, but he humbly shrugged off the mention.

Oi VietNam - Pho Ong Tay Restaurant - Piandina Ducati - June 2018 - IMG_0856

When it was time to eat we started with one of their fusion dishes, pho topped with Italian sausages (VND85,000). It’s just like it sounds, a traditional bowl of pho, with the usual leafy greens and sauces, with an Italian sausage, which Manuel said is the only thing he doesn’t make. The sausages are sourced from an Italian chef who hand makes them here in Saigon. The unexpected flavor of the sausage complemented the pho and broth. This first dish whetted our appetite and we were excited to sample more of Manuel’s quirky pho pairings, like the pho samurai with tempura shrimp and zucchini, the pho luc lac and pho tom yum (VND85-VND95,000) at our next visit.

Oi VietNam - Pho Ong Tay Restaurant - Eggplant Parmigiana - June 2018 -IMG_0838

 

The piadina sandwich was next to leave the kitchen and arrive at our table. Piadina is a thin Italian flatbread, and I had the Ducati, which has parma ham, fresh mozzarella, tomato, lettuce and mayo and fries (VND150,000)—a delicious meal in its own right. After that came a crescendo of traditional Italian dishes. First, pasta pappardelle with fried eggplant and spicy sausage in tomato sauce with a dollop of fresh ricotta cheese on top (VND140,000). This was something special, eliciting some audible oohs and aahs. For the pasta dishes at Pho Ong Tay, diners can choose the type of pasta, and then separately the toppings and sauce. They typically have at least eight housemade pastas available (VND45-VND60,000), and a variety of sauces and toppings (VND70- VND95,000), like the duck ragout and vegetables in red wine sauce, or the stewed octopus in tomato sauce with garlic and basil.

Oi VietNam - Pho Ong Tay Restaurant - Pasta Pappadelle with fried eggplant - June 2018 - IMG_0794

Next we had a plate of eggplant parmigiana (VND180,000). The tangy housemade tomato sauce really stood out, and I finished this despite how full I already felt because it was too good too delicious to leave behind. For dessert, we tried the cheesecake on biscuit butter crumble with blueberry sauce (VND55,000). It was incredibly rich and sweet, similar to the texture of a pudding, and I was running the fork over the plate for the last remnants of crumble and blueberry sauce.

Oi VietNam - Pho Ong Tay Restaurant - Cheese cake with blueberry sauce - June 2018 - IMG_0885

Pho Ong Tay also has a large drink selection, which includes imported Italian wines and grappa. Don’t let the name fool you, Pho Ong Tay is clearly more of a gastronomic experience than just a pho and spaghetti joint.

For dinner on Friday through Monday nights, reservations are recommended. For more info, check out their Facebook page: phoongtayphospaghetticakes.

Images by Vy Lam

Share this story, choose your platform!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on tumblr
Share on google
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on vk
Share on email
About the author:

Leave a Comment

Buy caviar online at affordable fixed rates from Caspian Monarque.

Caspian Monarque is the best online store where we can buy caviar at affordable fixed rates. Caviar is fish eggs that are found in the Caspian Sea. Here we find fishes like salmon, steelhead, trout, lumpfish, and whitefish. They vary in shapes, sizes, colors, and physical features. However, their eggs are small and almost similar. They differ

Read More »

Drink, Lounge, Be Merry

By Marco Bouwer There’s a classy new meetup venue in town, a 1920’s lounge bar with plush leather couches, swingy jazz tunes played from a gramophone player, and a wonderfully reserved atmosphere. Tucked in the welcoming bottom floor of the popular House of Barbaard, Saigon’s exclusive barbershop for gentlemen, is the Ministry of Men lounge

Read More »

Delightful Coffee Shops in D7

Text by Marco Bouwer Ho Chi Minh City does not take a step back for any city when it comes to coffee culture. It is home to thousands of independent coffee shops, which is a treat if you’re used to a city overran by the big international coffee brands. There’s adventure in discovering unique little

Read More »

Behind the Label

Is French wine about to hit bottom? France has the worldwide reputation for producing the best, and usually, the most expensive wines in the world. The five first growths of Bordeaux, also known as the Grand Crus, even though they are mass produced in the hundreds of thousands of bottles, easily reach astronomic prices around

Read More »

From a Virtual Restaurant to your Dining Table

No longer must restaurateurs rent space for a dining room to serve diners, Oi speaks to Rukmini Makkar about her new business What inspired you to start FEURO, and what does ” FEURO ” mean? Saigon is a vibrant melting pot of cultures, and has a wide array of delicious cuisines to offer, the founders

Read More »

Eat More Vegetables

Exploring Vietnam’s best vegetarian ingredients For many, Vietnam is a paradise for vegetarians of all kinds. Restaurants roll out a vegetarian menu for the first and 15th of every month for those looking for a bit of soul purification. Home cooks revel in a huge assortment of fruits and vegetables, changing with the season. And

Read More »