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Review: Ngon Restaurant

By: Nyam Penh Posted: January-28-2011 in
Click for More photos - Photo Credit - Vinh Dao
Nyam Penh

Ngon is a restaurant that I have been obsessing over for the past month or so. I have been to both locations in Vietnam and am wholly impressed with them both. Which led me to organize a party of 12 anonymous reviewers on opening night to sample as much of the menu as possible. This was probably my first mistake to review a brand new restaurant on opening night. But lets get to that later.

The atmosphere of Ngon is fantastic. The setting is reminiscent of the imperial Vietnam of old with a hutong inspired entrance which leads to a open floor plan dotted with food stations on the sides of the building.

The menu is 70% Vietnamese and 30% Khmer with very reasonable prices (most items at 9,000 Riel). After getting everyone in and with a beer in hand, we ordered 10 dishes to share.

Unfortunately, Ngon hasn’t worked out the kinks of running such a large operation and it took a half hour for us to get our first dish. After several inquiries and direct intervention by the GM, we managed to get three other dishes in a timely manner. We were also told that 6 of the ordered items were out and we had to reorder another dish (Ga Chien or fried chicken wings) to get some more food in our stomachs.

In the end, we received the Banh Xeo, Goi Bo Tai Chanh, Bo Nhung Dam, Banh Hoi Thit and Ga Chien. All the dishes were great with the Banh Hoi Thit being my favorite. The fat on the pork belly had a great crust which gave a crunchy texture to a normally chewy piece of meat. The Bo Nhung Dam had ample amounts of onion which once stewed a few minutes in the vinegar broth were heavenly.
During the meal, I walked by the order station which is located very close to the toilets. I stood by and watched over half the waiters in the restaurant relaying orders to two employees at computer terminals. As a former waiter, I could see this was disastrous. Total mayhem was erupting right before my eyes and I felt a little pity for the waiters. I hope that the management work this situation out, if for the sanity of the wait staff. In all honesty, this review could have waited a month to give Ngon a chance to work out the kinks so there will be another follow up in the future.
– Vinh

The food we did receive was overall pretty great but it was hard to enjoy the experience when it was clear that the management of the restaurant was not yet in order. From taking over an hour to get our first drink to the blank stares of the staff when we ordered, they were clearly overwhelmed with this new restaurant. Vinh even broke out his Vietnamese language skills a few times which helped discussing our orders with the management but not so much with the Khmer staff that was actually bringing the food.

But it was opening night. The idea of the restaurant is great, the building, the furniture and fixtures are absolutely beautiful and the food was pretty solid. Once they work out the kinks in the service, this place will be really great. The banh xeo was really tasty and crispy and the bo nhung dam was amazing. The only other time I’ve had bun nhung dam was my first night in Saigon at a street stall with a group of friends so I have very fond memories associated with this dish. It will probably be a while until I head back and it will probably be with a slightly smaller group but I’m really hoping they get this place sorted.
— Bryse

After tallying the votes of the group, the Goi Bo Tai Chanh was the favorite of the crew, garnishing a 4.6 out of a possible 5 nyamies.
Banh Hoi Thit – 3.75 Nyamies
Banh Xeo – 3..5 Nyamies
Ga Chien – 3.6 Nyamies
Bo Nhung Dam – 3.55 Nyamies

Source: Nyam Penh

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