Authentic Vietnamese with something 'pho' everyone
Nothing beats the January blues like a piping hot bowl of phở. Serving authentic Vietnamese cuisine, Ngon Ngon offers a quaint and homely setting for those hoping to escape the biting cold. Its yellow theme warms you up instantly as you walk in and its casual enough for you to turn up in your baggy sweatpants if you must.
The menu exhibits a wide range of Vietnamese delicacies from prawn summer rolls to mango salad with shredded beef, bun xa (vermicelli noodles) with honey roast pork and a tempting selection of seafood dishes. As a lover of pho, I was particularly impressed by the variety Ngon Ngon offered, including monkfish, rare beef, duck and tofu. For those who likes to try a bit of everything, there are sharing platters of meat, seafood and a vegetarian option as well.
Our host and manager of the restaurant, Alan Chan, kindly picked out some of his favourite dishes to save us the trouble of deciding. First to arrive was a sharing seafood platter for two, which was beautifully presented and extremely generous in portion size. It included seabass, squid and soft shell crab, all lightly fried and seasoned with chili and salt. The seafood tasted fresh and the spices gave it an extra kick. The dish also included summer rolls, a refreshing and light alternative to spring rolls. Wrapped in rice paper, they were filled with poached tiger prawns, pickles and Vietnamese basil. My personal highlight was the papaya salad with prawns, which was exceptionally juicy and its tanginess hits the right spot. Overall, the medley struck a good balance in flavours and didn’t have a single weak link in the mix.
Soon after our starters, the much-anticipated sautéed beef pho and mango sea bass arrived at our table. For those who wonder what differentiates a great bowl pho from your average pho, you can often tell from the quality of the broth. Great pho should always have a soup that is rich and packed with flavours, which Ngon Ngon certainly achieved. The aromatic and wholesome broth was complimented by tender slices of sautéed beef and fresh rice noodles to make a wonderfully satisfying bowl of goodness. The mango seabass was equally delicious. Served with fresh green mango, the fish was fried to crispy golden perfection and bathed in nuoc cham dressing (a traditional Vietnamese dip based on fish sauce). At this point, our bellies were stuffed and couldn’t possibly eat more. The bill came to approximately £16 per head, a reasonable price for a central London restaurant. The word ‘Ngon’ means delicious in Vietnamese and our meal definitely deserves two ‘Ngons’, pho sure.