Restaurant Review: Ngon Asia House

It’s difficult to put into words the incredible amount of detail that went into designing and creating Ngon Asia House (99 Nguyen Hue, D1). From dark wood furniture and red curtains separating various dining spaces to exposed light bulbs hanging from the ceiling, the restaurant is like an interior design showroom. And with greenery and vines crawling up walls as if they had naturally come to inhabit the space, the air even breathes cleaner than outside. The checkerboard floor tiles take you into an art nouveau world of geometrical wonder with tastefully placed surprises in every nook and corner of the three-storey restaurant. Entry to this place is by a glass lift and when the elevator creeps back down the shaft it revealed a hummingbird mural intricately placed behind the cables. The restaurant is separated into five culinary “houses”: Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese.

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Ngon Asia House’s ordering process is unconventional where diners are presented with a card that can be topped up with any cash amount. Once that’s done then it’s time to wander around the museum-like restaurant, choosing from the many styles of seating options available, from the contemporary Philippe Starck-like tables to the more loungy sofas bathed in warm, autumn hues. If you can, grab a table by the tall glass windows overlooking the Nguyen Hue Pedestrian Walkway – a great spot for people watching.

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While the idea of choosing from five different menus can be overwhelming, the restaurant made ordering fairly easy by simply using photos and numbers. We ordered a colorful array of Japanese sushi including the mixed plate of California, eel and salmon rolls (VND85,000) which were all stunningly delicious. That was followed by the Soft shell crab and rice (VND98,000) which was a home run – it’s hard to mess up soft shell crab in my opinion. But the star of the sushi platters was the exotic Salmon and caviar (VND75,000) – seaweed wrapped around a bed of salmon with a crown of caviar bursting out the top. It was an explosion of gourmet flavors that left me instantly wanting more. And last but not least the Mixed sushi platter (VND105,000) which served seven different types of sashimi and sushi, including salmon, octopus, tuna and omelet. Rubbing our bellies we proceeded to the Korean section and tried Rice served with boiled pork and kim chi wrapped in cabbage (VND80,000), having very little experience with Korean food, I was immediately blown away by the combination of tastes and textures. I wrapped the rice, pork, and kim chiin the lettuce then dip it a sublime soybean dipping sauce producing a crunchy juicy explosion in my mouth. I walked out of Ngon Asia a Korean food fan.

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To complement our first round of dishes we ordered a glass of chardonnay (VND95,000) a Mojito (VND75,000) and a Cocoloco (VND60,000). The chardonnay was the perfect partner to pair with the sushi, the mojito was strong, sweet and minty, as any good mojito should be, while the Cocoloco (a mix of coconut water and other tropical fruits) brought back memories of the beach.

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We continued our food adventure across Asia stopping at China and Thailand – two culinary giants. From the Chinese menu we ordered the Pan fried chive and pork dumplings (VND75,000). They were phenomenal dipped in soy sauce with that amazing commingling of classic Asian flavors, reminding me again why dumplings are and will always be one of my favorite Asian dishes. If you know Thai food, you know that it’s all about combining sweet, savory and spicy into one perfect mouthful. So, naturally, our order of fried Shrimp cakes (VND95,000) served with a fruit dipping sauce was an explosion of flavors.

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It’s hard to find Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai cuisine under one roof, and have it all done well, but Ngon Asia House has pulled it off.

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FOOD IMAGES PROVIDED BY: NGON ASIA HOUSE RESTAURANT

IMAGES BY: NEIL FEATHERSTONE

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