Simple Viet

Simple Viet

Vietnamese food is all about simple, plain tasting goodness. Here are some places where you can find delectable, fresh and flavourful Vietnamese fare!
Xing Wei Chua
Xing Wei Chua

There hasn’t been much going on in terms of new F&B tenants within the basement of Marina One until fairly recently; the month of August sees new entrants such as Yenney Restaurant and Supergreen moving in and starting operations — about time considering how most of the office folks within the Central Business District had since returned to their workplaces. Situated right beside the lift lobby that leads to Marina One East Tower, Yenney Restaurant is a new Vietnamese concept — the interior has been decked in a style that is modern and chic, yet evokes some form of colonial touch and a feel that is close to nature; think terrazzo-esque table tops with seat cushions with tropical prints that is flanked by wooden furniture and fittings that is really pleasing to the eyes. Mainly serving up Vietnamese cuisine to hungry office workers during lunch, the menu at Yenney Restaurant groups various items together and offers the items as a “Set Meal” that sees a main being served with a starter and a drink. That being said, all items listed on the menu are available ala-carte; the prices of each item being listed beside the description of the dish. Mains available on the menu at Yenney Restaurant includes various types of Pho, Banh Mi, Bun Cha and Rice Sets, while there are only two starters to choose from — the Fresh Spring Rolls and the Fried Spring Rolls. Yenney Restaurant serves up a single beverage on their menu; a Lemongrass Tea that seems to be served with bits of Yuzu.

Was looking for something that is more of a light bite and decided to go for the Banh Mi Set — the Banh Mi Set comprises of the BBQ Pork + Bread, Fresh Spring Rolls and Lemongrass Tea by default. We pretty much liked the Fresh Spring Rolls that they had served up a starter for the set — whilst there is not a choice of prawn for their Fresh Spring Rolls, the spring rolls are chewy; encasing tender, juicy barbecue meat within. Dipping it into the fish sauce provided on the side gives the spring rolls a savoury note that gives the spring roll more flavour. The Banh Mi was also a decent offering; no doubt the bread does seem to lose its crispness rather quickly, but the bread does give a good, firm bite. Stuffed with different meats that are sandwiches in between, we did note chunks of BBQ Pork and slices of Vietnamese Ham included within — the former giving a slight hint of sweetness alongside a smoky flavour, while the latter gives a soft bite and a bit of savoury note. The bread is being spread with a meat pâté; one thing that is of particular note is how the meat pâté that is used in their Banh Mi here is milder in flavour than most that we have came across thus far — it’s buttery texture still manages to gel all the elements together, though is significantly less saltish than what we have tried. They have also included sriracha chili for the Banh Mi here by default to provide for that slight tingle of spiciness that tickles the tastebuds as well.

Having only tried one item off their menu, Yenney Restaurant does feel like an establishment that seems to have quite a bit of potential — the interior of the space does probably hint of the effort that they are putting into the business; that being said, we would reckon that the highlights at Yenney Restaurant are likely to be the various types of Pho that they have to offer. We also found it a real shame that they do not offer a variety of beverages at Yenney Restaurant; we were definitely looking forward to having some form of Vietnamese coffee here and perhaps even Salted Lemonade as an option to the Lemongrass Tea that is the only beverage available at the time when the visit was made. Otherwise, the experience at Yenney Restaurant was pretty alright — thought that there wasn’t much to comment apart from the service staff probably needing a little more time to get used to the pace once lunch time hits; prices might be a little steep since most of their lunch sets would fall within being a few dollars above or short of $15.90++, though it does make for a good spot with an ambience to settle those cravings for Vietnamese cuisine in an air-conditioned environment. A spot that we might return to give their Pho a try some other day!

Caught wind of the new Uncle Tuan’s Claypot Rice that had recently opened at 6 Lim Teck Kim Road — the road being one of the lesser known roads within the Central Business District considering how its located quite nearly at the end of it closer to Cantonment Road and Keppel Road. Being a Vietnamese establishment, the space is actually rather simply decked and perhaps even a little under-maintained to a certain extent — yellow walls with wooden elements that give off a rather raw look; the tables are just simple wooden tables while the chairs are spray painted gold for a bit of a change, though the paint job does seem a little rough nonetheless. Uncle Tuan’s Claypot Rice serves up a pretty limited menu — the menu of the day is written on a standee board placed at the entrance of the restaurant; they were only serving two types of Pho, as well as the Bun Cha, Bun Bo Dac Biet, as well as a Claypot Rice set that sees rice served in a claypot with two side dishes when we made our visit on a weekday dinner service. Beverages was limited to the Vietnamese Tea which came complimentary with every order of a main.

The Bun Cha was an item that we were craving for whilst skimming through their limited menu here; that being said, the presentation of their Bun Cha is certainly different from what we are used to seeing from other Vietnamese establishments that we have visited thus far. Whilst most other places would plate all of the dry elements (i.e. the rice vermicelli, vegetables, meatballs etc.) together and the chili-infused fish sauce coming on the side, Uncle Tuan’s Claypot Rice’s rendition sees the meatballs, sliced bacon and carrot slices swimming in the bowl of fish sauce whilst the rice vermicelli and vegetables come on the side. Wedges of oranges are also served alongside as a form of “dessert” as well. Sipping just the fish sauce on its own, it is noted that the fish sauce here can be rather salty to some — perhaps the inclusion of the sliced bacon adds on to the already savoury notes of the fish sauce. That being said, it gets more manageable when one enjoys this rendition of the Bun Cha in the style of a Japanese Tsukemen — i.e. dipping the rice vermicelli into the fish sauce as though the latter is a dipping sauce; the way it is meant to be eaten. Enjoying in its intended way, whilst pairing each spoonful with some of the vegetables on the side proves to be pretty manageable and flavourful — the savouriness of the fish sauce being absorbed into the rice vermicelli whilst the herbs and vegetables just give a good contrast of flavours here. We really enjoyed the pork meatballs here; there is a slight char on the top that gives it a bit of a smokiness, but we really enjoyed the fact that it felt pretty homemade and tightly-packed — chunky without carrying any undesirable porky stench. The sliced bacon was cooked in the same way as the meatballs; pretty interesting whilst still able to retain some part of its savoury note. The carrots do feel a little raw here but creates a crunch; best to be paired with a bit of rice vermicelli that is soaked in the fish sauce and a bit of the herbs and vegetables provided on the side, while the wedges of orange are a thoughtful inclusion to cleanse the tastebuds.

Despite its slightly odd environment, Uncle Tuan’s Claypot Rice does seem to serve up a pretty fresh perspective on Vietnamese cuisine — from its signature Claypot Rice offering that is rarely seen in Vietnamese cuisine establishments locally to items such as the Bun Cha that seems to be served in a rather authentic fashion, Uncle Tuan’s Claypot Rice menu may be pretty lean, but does bring the experience of true Vietnamese dining to the table. No doubt it is located at a rather odd spot in The Central Business District; still a spot pretty much worth exploring for those who are into Vietnamese cuisine.

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Not really totally into the vibes of Shenton Foodhall at Shenton House for the most part — have always found the look of the place a little too mashed up for our liking, but we can’t deny how we have been drawn to settle at the said food court for lunch of the late. Whilst we have been quite drawn to the Assorted Yong Tau Fu with Laksa and Chee Cheong Fun from the Zi Jia Yong Tau Foo 自家酿豆腐 stall here of the late (they also do have other outlets all around the island), The Saigon is also yet another stall that has caught our attention for quite a while now considering how we are big fans of Vietnamese cuisine here; the stall does serve up quite a good variety here, with the offerings ranging from items like the Vietnamese Mix Beef Noodle, to Vietnamese Char Grilled Pork Rice with Fried Egg and the Vietnamese French Loaf with Char Grilled Pork.

It was fairly easy to decide what we wanted to order here — the reason why we had opted for the Vietnamese Char Grilled Pork Rice Noodle with Vietnamese Fried Wraps was because of how they actually char grill the pork chops here with an open fire which can be seen through their display glass at the stall. For $8.20, the Vietnamese Char Grilled Pork Rice Noodle with Vietnamese Fried Wraps can be said as an item that is slightly more pricey than the average lunch affair, though their rendition of this dish is possibly the biggest-sized one that we have ever come across. It features mostly the items that one would expect in a typical Bun Cha — pickled vegetables, leafy greens, rice vermicelli etc., though most interesting here would be how they seem to have also included pork lard as part of the package as well. Beansprouts are also included in their rendition of the Bun Cha here, though the ones here are pretty much raw. Mixing the entire bowl up with the chili-infused fish sauce that one can help themselves to at the self-service “condiment bar” at the stall, this ticks off all the right boxes to a decent Bun Cha — the multitude of textures going on here; all of which brought together by the savoury notes of the fish sauce that gels all the elements together. That being said, the highlight is most definitely that slab of char grilled pork — not only was it glistening when it is served; we really liked the caramalised exterior that gave it so much flavour. Being char grilled with an open flame also meant that the slab of pork also carried smoky notes as well — all that whilst still being tender and easy to chew. The pork lard above was also fried with a crunch — really satisfying.

Had previously been a little skeptical about what The Saigon has to offer considering the various social media posts around it at one point of time. That being said, having tried what they have to offer, we are pretty convinced on the quality of the food that they serve here — the char grilled pork chop being something which we find pretty much irresistible. Definitely going to give the Vietnamese French Loaf with Char Grilled Pork a try the next time we return to Shenton Foodhall for lunch!

And so the quest for a good Pho continues — Pho hasn’t been quite the Vietnamese fare I would usually go for of the late since I have a preference for non-soupy foods in general. Tucked away within Fook Hai Building facing Upper Hokien Street is May Pho Culture — a rather recent F&B addition to the building that takes over the former premises of the now-defunct Fart Tartz Cafe there. The interior does feature a mezzanine level that adds up as a dining space to the dine-in area on the first level and outdoor dining space, though it is an indie set-up where everything here is just managed by a handful of people. Being a hidden gem, May Pho Culture serves up Vietnamese Pho as their main focus — their range of pho includes pho that features quite a variety of cuts of beef; includes beef coin, beef brisket and tenderloin, whilst also offering different meat options such as chicken. Patrons who would like to have other items apart from pho can go for the Banh Mi and Com Tam that they also offer, whilst items available to share around the table includes fried and fresh spring rolls. May Pho Culture offers a decent variety of beverages here — apart from Vietnam Special Brew Coffee, they do also serve up canned drinks as well as a small selection of wines.

Hadn’t really have Pho for quite a while now considering how there are now a number of spots that serve decent Pho that is nothing to shout about; we have also been disappointed with the quality of the Pho at Mrs Pho which we used to patronise — the quality having dipped quite a bit ever since their commercialisation. May Pho Culture serves their Pho a little differently here — there aren’t many places that serves their Pho with fresh herbs by the side, along with chopped chili and wedges of lime as well; an indication of probably how much they care to replicate that authentic Vietnamese Pho-eating culture here. Patrons can choose to pluck off the leaves and drop them into the pho to elevate the dining experience here — something which we recommend even though the Pho broth was already very good on its own. The broth here is very clean, yet especially flavourful — probably one of the finest that we have had in recent times that we could easily just down the entire bowl despite being folks who don’t actually like soupy items. In the bowl of Pho also comes the slurpy rice noodles that are soft to bite, as well as onions and beansprouts for the crunch — the highlight being the tenderloin that really melts-in-the-mouth without much effort to chew; slowly cooked within the warm broth of the Pho for that level of tenderness. A really stellar bowl of Pho that is almost the gold standard of what other outfits do serve up.

While the Pho Tenderloin was the highlight for us, the Fried Spring Rolls is another item that we were also really impressed with during our visit — not only was it crisp and generously filled, it tasted actually really different from the others that we have had thus far; a little cleaner and less “fried” in a sense. For an establishment that has opened just for around two months, May Pho Culture is a gem of its own — really fresh food that is done well and good; bringing locals here a really authentic Vietnamese experience be it in terms of the style the food served, to the execution. Do expect some waiting time here during peak hours however, considering they will be a little short-handed if the place fills ups. That being said, this is definitely one place we will be coming back for the Pho; that broth is certainly hard to forget, and would be something which we will be craving for. Wishing the folks behind May Pho Culture all the best with what is to come!

Had noticed Nhung Kitchen (to be pronounced as “Yong Kitchen”) after passing by Balestier Road quite some time back — got a little busy and never really had the chance to make my way down to try out their Banh Mi. Found ourselves dropping by after an attempt to visit somewhere nearby that didn’t open. Basically a fairly simple setup, Nhung Kitchen’s interior can be said to be pretty basic where function is priority over form. Apart from bar seats that faces the window, the other dine-in seating comprises of dining tables and chairs that work best between diners of two to four pax. Space isn’t aplenty here, though the tables are placed comfortably away from one another, an area in the dining space is also used for storage. The menu at Nhung Kitchen can be said to be fairly simple — with Banh Mi making up most of its offerings, there are six variations of Banh Mi to choose from; for those who prefer having other forms of Vietnamese cuisine, Nhung Kitchen also serves up rice vermicelli dishes and rice dishes as well. Beverages available here includes Vietnamese coffee, as well as a homemade iced lemon tea amongst others.

Came here for the Banh Mi but found the Bun Thit Nuong to be the favourite dish. Of particular note about the Bun Thit Nuong here is probably the portion size — the portion of meat that is served here is especially generous as opposed to most other Vietnamese establishments we had visited. Beneath that BBQ Pork is the rice vermicelli and the usual mix of vegetables which includes carrots and cucumbers — it also comes with a saucer filled with spicy fish sauce that typically comes with Vietnamese rice vermicelli dishes. The rice vermicelli here is slurpy; giving everything a good toss before picking them up and dipping them into the spicy fish sauce, we really liked how the savoury notes of the fish sauce flavours up the entire dish whilst still tasting pretty clean — the various textures of the greens included provides a refreshing crunch and the chopped peanuts gave a good bite as well. The BBQ Pork is also pretty well-executed; it’s savoury and fairly flavourful, but what really enjoyed about it was how it pretty tender and easy to chew.

Given how Nhung Kitchen is pretty much somewhat of a mom-and-pop sort of shop, the food here seems to be more of the homely and hearty sort; all that with generous portions that makes them a really value-for-money option. For those looking for some authentic Vietnamese fare that doesn’t burn the pocket, Nhung Kitchen is a spot that is worth considering going for.

Viet Taste has been one of those Vietnamese establishments that I had been wanting to visit for a long time — pretty much a hidden gem back in the days at Great World City’s Food Junction food court before the mall’s and food court’s renovation, the stall now seems to have garnered a following ever since the food court’s revamp; the queue for the stall during weekend lunch can probably rival that of some slightly more popular stalls at the Central Business District on weekdays, with the staff busy pushing out bowls of Pho and Banh Mi for both dine-in and takeaway patrons. For those who have seen or patronised the stall previously before the food court’s renovation, Viet Taste is still located at the same location in the food court where they were previously — the stall still serves up Banh Mi, Pho, Bun Cha and rice dishes; patrons can also opt for set meals that sees a combo of main, an appetiser and a drink as well to try a little bit of everything that they have to offer.

Was contemplating between the Set C (i.e. the BBQ Pork/Chicken Set) and Set E (i.e. the Banh Mi Set) and found ourselves opting for the latter — patrons get to choose between the Vietnamese Pork Sandwich and the Vietnamese Chicken Sandwich for the Banh Mi, whilst also being able to opt for either the Fresh Spring Rolls or the Fried Spring Rolls for the appetiser. Choice of drink includes Vietnamese Coffee (Hot or Cold), Homemade Lemongrass with Ginger, and Iced Vietnamese Jasmine Tea. For our order, we went for the Vietnamese Pork Sandwich, Fresh Spring Rolls and hot Vietnamese Coffee. Going straight for the Banh Mi, the bread here does come with a crisp bite; the bread shatters upon each chew — pretty decent though I would prefer one that also carries a bite to munch off apart from being just simply crisp; a tough find even amongst Banh Mi specialty stores around. What I really liked in their rendition of the Vietnamese Pork Sandwich was how the BBQ Pork was especially flavourful and tender — does not require much effort to chew, yet was savoury from the marination without carrying any undesirable porky stench. Wasn’t a big fan of how they did incorporate the use of mayonnaise here however; something which we could do without especially if they were able to spread more pate atop the undersides of the halved baguette for a more creamy, buttery and umami note. Otherwise, the pickled vegetables carried a good tang, while the addition of some of the usual herbs found in other Vietnamese dishes is a pretty nice touch.

The Fresh Spring Rolls do deserve a mention here — pretty thoughtful of them to actually cut them into three sections per row here for easier eating since it is often a challenge for locals to chew the fresh spring rolls apart. Wrapped with prawns within, the Fresh Spring Rolls were especially delightful when dipped into the fish sauce that has been spiked with chili padi for a savoury note. Their hot Vietnamese Coffee does also seem to be tweaked to local preferences as well — while the cuppa is still especially strong with a chocolatey note, they seem to have went easy with the portion of condensed milk served with the coffee here; more controlled so it does not get overly sweet, though I would prefer that it comes with just a little bit more condensed milk that would pull off that chocolatey note more.

Overall, Viet Taste does make for a very good place for those who have yet to try Vietnamese fare to have their first taste of Vietnamese cuisine. While their food may not be quite the best Vietnamese fare that we have tried, they do seem to serve up pretty authentic flavours that are slightly tuned towards local preferences — perhaps a reason why they are so popular with locals and expats alike that make up most of the folks queueing up here. That being said, with so many hipster options to pick from at the Food Junction at Great World City, Viet Taste would probably be a stall which we will consider dining at again if the queues are a little shorter.

Guess I am currently at the point where I am starting to check off things that I had been wanting to try in the area for such a long time, yet never got a chance to do so since most of the eateries around the Downtown/Marina Bay neighbourhood only operates on weekdays — some also being only limited to lunch hours. Pho-losophy has been operating their outlet at Asia Square’s Food Garden since 2016 and does seem like one of the stalls that office workers do seem to queue up for (again, what are the chances of a stall not having a queue here); the menu comprising of Pho (i.e. Beef Noodle Soup), Bun (i.e. Vermicelli Salad) and Rice for those looking for a substantial eat for lunch.

The Phos here are pretty popular amongst the folks who have queued up for their food but opted for the Bun Cha instead since it was more of my thing as compared to Pho, and also partially due to my laziness having to deal with hot soup whilst having to mind the limited lunch hours especially given the crowd in the Central Business District these days. Whilst there are other meat options such as pork belly, lemongrass-marinated beef and five-spiced chargrilled chicken available, I went with the Sugarcane Prawn Bun which sounds more unique to their menu. Coming with the usual suspects that are normally included in the Vietnamese dish, expect elements such as rice vermicelli, sliced cucumber, pickled vegetables, chopped peanuts and even a Vietnamese spring roll to accompany the sugarcane prawns here. It also comes with the usual dip that Bun Cha comes with — the fish sauce with chopped chili that one is supposed to dip the vermicelli in. Overall, found this to be a pretty clean eat — no doubt there are fried items around, but I really liked how this came with all the vegetables that provided a good crunch; all that while the springy vermicelli laces up all the savoury fish sauce with a slight kick of spiciness from the chopped chili. The sugarcane prawns did feel like they come with quite a good amount of pork paste and quite lack that bite or sweetness from the prawns, but I really enjoyed how incredibly bouncy they were — all that with the fried Vietnamese spring roll being all crisp without feeling anywhere too greasy.

Felt that the Sugarcane Prawn Bun is a pretty decent eat overall — a great alternative to salad if one really detests having a bowl of greens since this feels more of a lighter (and cleaner) eat for me. No doubt it is a little bit more pricier at $12 — that being said, there don’t seem to be a lot of particularly affordable options around the area so it is just slightly above from the average lunch. I guess I would likely go for the Rare Australian Angus Beef Slices Pho from the Pho section of the menu or the Com Tam from the Rice section of the menu next — a stall which I am likely to make it as a lunch option as long as the queues aren’t too mad.

Woodlands is that sort of space where F&B choices can be said to be a little limited — no doubt there are quite a good number of basic options that involve local or more commercialised fare, but there aren’t many options when it comes to anything past that. Was pretty excited to hear about the existence of Miss Banh Mi at Woodlands North Plaza (or 883, as most in the neighbourhood would call it) — the establishment being just a takeaway stand located just beside New Odense Bakery within the neighbourhood mall. Being more of a simple kiosk, Miss Banh Mi does offer a few variations of the Vietnamese baguette, as well as some Vietnamese Bee Hoon dishes alongside spring rolls as well.

It wasn’t difficult to make a choice from the various Banh Mi that they offer here — settling with the BBQ Pork Banh Mi, the ladies behind the counter toasts the baguette and assembles the Banh Mi upon order. Thought the baguette itself is fairly decent here — there isn’t much to shout about but we did like the crispness to it, though it doesn’t have that underlying bite that gives a little more dimension texturally like those that I have tried from joints that actually do make their own Banh Mi baguettes. For our order, the baguette comes lined with chunks of BBQ Pork within, whilst also coming with pickled vegetables and coriander; the baguette is also spread with a mix of meat pâté and butter for a savoury note. Always enjoyed that combination of the meat pâté with crunchy pickled vegetables that is tangy and refreshing as it cuts across that sweet-ish BBQ Pork here — while the chunks of BBQ Pork can be said as fibrous, we found it interesting how the flavours here seemingly resembled that of Taiwan mini sausages; not what we have initially expected but also a flavour profile which we didn’t quite mind.

To be fair, Miss Banh Mi isn’t the spot that warrants the rush to go down for some spectacular tasting Banh Mi — it doesn’t offer an experience that is out of the world (at least the item we tried didn’t), but it does resolve cravings at the very least; and that is perhaps what it is all about.

Being located in the premises of Nam San Mackerel Otah, Joo Chiat Càphê is a stall at 263 Joo Chiat Road that serves up the Vietnamese Banh Mi and Otah — the establishment is actually Muslim-friendly, with the items being offered only featuring beef, chicken, fish and mushroom. The stall is simply decked out, and there are a few tables around for those who intend to dine-in; the dine-in area being set in the middle and towards the left of the entire shop space, and is pretty much surrounded by the counter where orders are taken and where beverages are prepared. For those who may not be into Vietnamese cuisine, Joo Chiat Càphê does serve up a Traditional Kuning Fish Nasi Lemak, as well as Otah and Otah Toast where some has mentioned that the Otah is made using the same recipe as that of Nam San Mackerel Otah as well.

We reached Joo Chiat Càphê for a late lunch; they were already sold out of the Mackerel Otah with Homemade Vietnamese Mayonnaise Banh Mi by the time we had arrived. The lady at the counter recommended us to have either the honey-glazed grilled chicken thigh with homemade chicken pate Banh Mi or the Grilled Lemongrass Beef Patty with Hoisin Sauce Banh Mi; we picked the latter. Featuring elements such as a freshly-baked Vietnamese baguette, pickled salad, cucumber, lettuce, coriander, chili (optional), grilled lemongrass beef with hoisin sauce, Vietnamese mayonnaise and homemade chicken pate, we found the Banh Mi here to be rather delicious. Whilst being one of the pricier item here (this costs $6.50; the priciest items Banh Mi costs $7.00), this one is packed generously with meat and is actually pretty filling. While the party is shaped more like meatballs in the photo, it comes as an entire slab of meat when served — the patty is a good mix of lean and fatty parts that come with some chew, but doesn’t take much of an effort to bite through. There is a subtle hint of lemongrass that can be detected in the meat from the marination process; was also pretty amazed how the meat wasn’t particularly gamey. The pickled vegetables provided a crunch and a tang, while the coriander did cut through much of the meatiness and savoury notes here; the chicken pate spread on the baguette giving a buttery-esque feel with its slight saltishness. While the sauces did make the Banh Mi a tad messy to eat with juices and sauces dripping from the end when we were about to finish the baguette, we liked how the sauces didn’t attempt to overwhelm the entire item in terms of flavour. We also liked how the baguette is served warm and toasted upon order; crisp on the exterior as it lightly shatters when one chews on it, yet carrying a good bite as well.

Overheard the conversation between the owners and some patrons during my visit and must say that the folks here seemed to be passionate on what they serve — they were also pretty concerned on whether I felt that their Vietnamese Coffee was a wee too thick for my liking; constantly checking if I was ok with it (I like my Vietnamese coffee bold; akin to a chocolate-y concoction — they nailed it without it being too sweet). With such emphasis on their food, Joo Chiat Càphê is pretty much off a good start; can’t really comment on how their Banh Mi would pitch against that of the widely-raved 233 Banh Mi just several units down, but Joo Chiat Càphê is certainly one spot I wouldn’t mind heading to get that Banh Mi and Vietnamese coffee craving fixed!

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Having tried the Vietnamese sizzling plates from Miss Bò Né at Ubi previously, it has probably led me to yet another realm of Vietnamese cuisine that I had yet to explore and have since developed cravings for — so much so that when I had chanced upon Viet King Quan at the Chang Cheng Mee Wah coffeeshop at Blk 201C Tampines Street 21 (also where another outpost of Jiak Song Mee Hoon Kway and King of Pao Fan are located; it is a short walk away from Tampines East MRT Station), I made sure I would make a return trip to the neighbourhood to settle for dinner there.

The Bò Bit Tét Thâp Câm here comes with elements such as sliced striploin, “Xiu Mai” (i.e. homemade meat ball), egg, pate and sausage — every order of the Bò Né also comes with a Vietnamese baguette; the same which is used in the Banh Mi. Essentially the full works, this is the item that one should go for if one is looking to dry the various items that they have in a sizzling hot plate. To be fair, I personally felt that the hot plate could be served hotter; there wasn’t much of a sizzle going on after the first few minutes (unlike the one at Miss Bò Né). That being said, I enjoyed the entire ordeal here; the runny fried eggs with a molten yolk, the butteriness of the sauce that was puddling around the savoury pate, the chunky, yet tender and soft-to-the-bite Xiu Mai, and the sliced striploin that comes swimming in savoury brown sauce — I especially liked how the beef elements here are nothing gamey, whilst being served relatively hot with the hotplate maintaining that sort of comfortably warm temperature for the dish throughout the entire time. The Vietnamese baguette, which is sliced into three, is the perfect vehicle to all the sauces and juices on the hotplate; soaks up all that buttery, savoury goodness amidst the shattering crisp baguette that comes with a slight chew — smear on some of that pate for the extra oomph! And for those looking for a kick of spiciness to the dish; there is that saucer filled with Sriracha that you can always rely on.

Whilst I really enjoyed the Bò Bit Tét Thâp Câm here, I personally felt that there is something that fell short between the Bò Né here and the one I had from Miss Bò Né; perhaps the heavier flavours, or maybe it was how they seem to place a strong emphasis on serving the hotplate sizzling. But there again, perhaps first experiences of a dish of its class always bears a stronger impression in the mind. That being said, the Bò Bit Tét Thâp Câm is certainly the dish I would go for if I am looking to splurge a little on a trip to a coffeeshop; it’s price tag of $13.90 does make it lesser of a daily affair — though it does certainly make for an affordable and luxurious weekend brunch affair that is wallet-friendly as compared against to the same from specialty coffee joints around!

Opened to much fanfare, Eatbox was a spot that I was expecting to see crowds at for lunch when we made our visit on a weekday afternoon whilst being back in the office — the concept is a permanent feature by the same folks behind Artbox, which used to hold their annual events being a pop-up creative market every year. It takes over the former premises of the now-defunct Xin Tekka, and houses quite a number of new and familiar brands such as The Butcher Bar (serving up burgers and rosti), Flash Coffee (serving up specialty coffee), Okinawa Nigri (serving up Onigirirazu), and Toni Yakiniku (serving up Japanese Donburi) amongst others.

Had been wanting to try BLYS Baguette ever since i had went past their outlet near the Happy Hawkers coffeeshop at Jurong East Gateway — always one who is in for good Banh Mi anyway. Whilst the Special Great Banh Mi (Banh Mi Dac Biet) seems to be the one to go for that comes with four different types of meat (think Ham Pork, Char Siu, Pork Floss and Pate), I went for the Grilled Meat Roll Banh Mi which seems to come with chunks of ham pork amidst the other standard elements such as butter and pickled vegetables. What stood out about their Banh Mi was how aptly buttered it was — really liked that savoury flavour that accompanied the shattering crisp baguette that carried a chew. Felt that the Banh Mi here do get slightly softer as they cooled down though; especially given how this outlet at Eatbox is in an air-conditioned environment. That being said, the grilled meat roll seemingly comprises of chunks of ham pork; provides for a good bite whilst being suitable savoury without becoming overly saltish — also loved how the pickled vegetables did carry that tangy crunch that it’s supposed to have.

With quite the variety of options covering Japanese fare, Thai food, light bites and beverage options, Eatbox is one of those places that probably has something for everyone. That being said, do expect a smaller option of mains here — most of the stalls seemingly catering to smaller plates and desserts though there are sufficient options that makes one want to revisit Eatbox again. Looking forward to go for the burgers at The Butcher Bar next, not to mention how it does seem like a pretty convenient location for a more “hipster” lunch around the workplace if one is in the mood to splurge just a little.

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Found Banh Mi BiBi whilst scrolling around social media during the Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) whilst being at home — the coffeeshop stall is located at 375 Upper Aljunied Road within Lian Bee Restaurant/Mod Keaw Kitchen & Bar, which is a short walk away from MacPherson Mall.

Noticed that Banh Mi BiBi does have a commercial bakery-style oven and baguette racks within their stall that seemingly suggests that they may be making their very own Banh Mi baguettes in-house, but I was pretty impressed with their Sliced Beef Noodle Soup which was surprisingly tasty, given how this was seemingly the only pho item that exists in their menu. What makes their Sliced Beef Noodle Soup so enjoyable was the broth; it’s pretty clear with a clean finish, but amidst that lightness of the broth, it was nothing short of flavourful from the bones used in cooking the broth — all that without being thirst-inducing and was pretty refreshing and even carried a natural sweetness. Coming with beansprouts and onions, the condiments provided a crunch, while the rice noodles were nothing short of being soft and slurpy. The sliced beef included was also commendable; absolutely tender without much effort to chew — did not carry any unpleasant gaminess, not to mention how they were seemingly generous with the meat as well.

Vietnamese cuisine has always been all about simple, homey cooking to me — the Sliced Beef Noodle Soup from Banh Mi Bibi is nothing short of that; a pretty satisfying and hearty bowl that I would absolutely love to have again. For those who are not into Pho, the Banh Mi here is pretty worth trying; sufficiently buttery with quite a good portion of meat, not to mention how the one we had also comes with a quite a fair bit of chili padi that gives it a fiery kick — all between the shattering crisp baguette that comes with a fair bit of bite. A spot for commendable Vietnamese fare that is worth making a detour for.

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Up, down and everywhere around for food.

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