Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Nghi Ngan Quan

Hi everyone,
Hope this week has been treating you nicely!

Today's post features Nghi Ngân Quán, a restaurant tucked away in the Western suburbs. Though it's not in a restaurant-plenty section of Adelaide, it's still well known for it's Vietnamese cuisine. 
My family and I had dinner here tonight in celebration of my parents' 21st wedding anniversary! Thinking about that is a bit mind boggling, for me. To think that they're both only in their mid 40s yet they've already cracked the 20 year mark. Wow! 

Dad suggested this restaurant because he's been curious about the dinner menu for quite a while. This was a regular Sunday lunch spot for our family until we moved houses, so we haven't visited for quite some time. And my, has this place changed! I remember it as a being very simplistic with minimal decor. I'm not even sure when it was redone, but I think it's been repainted, a new bar has been installed and a new serving system has been put in place.

 The menus

Tonight, we decided on the Seven Dish Beef as our main. This was recommended to serve 3-4 people, which was perfect because my family consists of 2 adults, 2 teenagers and a toddler. This particular menu item set us back $70. 

 Vietnamese salad with beef

What a fabulous start to our meal! The salad was fresh, vibrant and delicious. I really liked how the fish sauce based dressing was placed in a separate bowl because I hate when salad veggies are soggy. The dressing was light and not too overpowering, which suited the crunchy vegetables very nicely. The slight spiciness was lovely! The beef was tender and faintly marinated, which I liked because any more and it would have clashed with the dressing. I definitely recommend this dish!

 Honey king prawns $16

My sister was craving honey prawns so we ordered this as an entrée for the entire table. To say that this was a disappointment would be too generous. The batter was WAY too thick - my brother was complaining that he couldn't find any prawn meat amongst it! It wasn't even crunchy, and being soaked in the thick honey goo made it even worse. Definitely steer clear of this if you ever visit. 

Lychee smoothie (L) and custard apple smoothie (R) $4 each

We also ordered a durian smoothie but my brother was too eager for a drink and dove in before I could even snap a photo! The lychee smoothie is something I used to order every time I visited as a little girl, and it's definitely as good as I remember it to be. Light, refreshing and delicious! My sister commented that her smoothie was only okay - she wishes she'd ordered an avocado smoothie. And the durian smoothie; let's just say that if you're a fan of durian (which I'm not!), you'll enjoy it. 

The grill, rice paper for making rolls, fresh chilli and the dipping sauce

Fresh lettuce and herbs, sliced radish, carrots, cucumber and pineapple, and vermicelli 

Such a HUGE platter! We couldn't even finish all of it.

Clockwise from the left corner
Beef wrapped in betel leaves
Lemon wedges
Sesame beef
Vietnamese-style beef patties
Butter for the grill
Beef marinated in Vietnamese vinegar
Rare beef marinated in lemon and pepper (centre)

This was also a huge platter. 
My favourite was definitely the beef wrapped in betel leaves. I loved how juicy and tender the meat was on the inside and how well the betel leaves complimented it. Of course, I do attribute some of this to the fact that my mum cooked them perfectly on the grill! The sesame beef grilled with butter is another favourite, though it's something I occasionally have at home so it didn't grab my attention tonight. The beef patties weren't too bad either - I liked the flavour but it wasn't a stand out. We ended up not eating the rare marinated lemon and pepper beef. Instead, we cooked it with the vinegar marinated beef in a pot which came out after we finished with the grill (I forgot to get a photo!). Pretty much all of the dishes, except the beef wrapped in betel leaves, were wrapped in rice paper with the vermicelli and fresh veggies. Though I didn't love every single dish, I did like the idea of bringing together 7 different beef dishes. 

 Grilling the meat

The final dish was actually beef congee, but none of us had any room left in our stomachs! We ended up taking home in a takeaway container. I can't bring myself to have any right now, but I must admit I never have beef congee at home. The norm for me is duck or pork mince congee, but that could possibly be just my family's preferences? 

Fried ice-cream with chocolate topping $5.50

We ended up ordering two of these to share a while after the table was cleared. I really wanted to see if these fit the image I have of the perfect fried ice-cream! The first thing I went for was the batter. I was happy to see that it was thinner and slightly crunchier than the disaster I had at Toptai a few weeks ago. However, the ice-cream centre was not creamy or dense enough and the chocolate topping ruined it. I should really stop ordering it with a topping - all the ones I have encountered are horrible. So, all in all, though this has a better batter than the one at Toptai, the quality of the ice-cream itself just doesn't compare. I'll have to call it even!

We all quite enjoyed the meal. Though they weren't the best interpretations of the Vietnamese dishes we have encountered, they were still pretty tasty. I think this might be because we are Vietnamese and are used to mum's amazing cooking, so we're always extra picky when it comes to Vietnamese food! However, for those who don't often have Vietnamese food, I think this would make a very enjoyable meal. There's also the fun factor involved in cooking your own food. Also, the 7 beef dishes alone cost a total of $70 and left the 5 of us stuffed, so it's great value!

The service was fantastic. For a Wednesday evening, I'd say the restaurant was quite busy, yet the  waiters and waitresses were very friendly and attentive. After ordering, the drinks arrived after 5 minutes and the salad arrived after only 10 or so minutes! After clearing the table, the desserts didn't take long at all to come out, either. Top marks for service!

Overall, 8/10


Nghi Ngan Quan on Urbanspoon

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