Friday, September 30, 2016


I have yet to visit Vietnam but it hasn't stopped me from liking or enjoying wonderful Vietnamese food through the years, either at Vietnamese restaurants in the Klang Valley or on my travels abroad where large population of Vietnamese folks live and work. After recent visit to my friend Caren Poon's restaurant - An Viet at The Gardens mall, the good Vietnamese specialities worth trying include:

XOI CHIEN PHONG (RM13.90) - the fried crispy glutinous rice puff ensures a ball of a time once you cut into it. Accompanied by lemongrass chicken salad on the side, the golden brown orb is hollow inside which left us awed by the cook's skill in making it.

Just cut the puff into nacho-size pieces to scoop some of the salad up. The spongier base tasted like appam; the remainder, a toastier version of its crisp edges. Tangy-briny with hints of herbal freshness, we relished how the salad added to the textural mêlée.
BANH TRANG NUONG (RM8.90) - crisp and fragrant grilled rice paper stuffed with minced pork, quail's egg and dried shrimp. A delicate envelope of multiple textures and irresistibly hearty flavours that left us wishing for repeat helpings.
CANH CHUA NUOC DUA (RM13.90) - a soulful rendition of fresh clams and coconut water broth. We marvelled at the varying sweet nuances of the key ingredients; a soupy symphony tinged with the punchy sourish notes of cherry tomatoes and mild accents of lemongrass, dill and chilli.
NOM HOA CHUOI (RM13.90) - a raveworthy medley of banana blossom, cucumber and carrots. Tossed in a house dressing which uses pure fish sauce and supporting cohorts of blanched tiger prawns and chopped roasted peanuts, the simple, crunchy salad made loading up on greens fun and flighty.
GOI CUON (RM8.90) - fresh Vietnamese spring rolls of gossamer thin rice paper stuffed with fresh tiger prawns, Vietnamese vermicelli, shredded carrot and cucumber, coral lettuce and herbs. We were too busy dipping the yummy rolls into the pure fish sauce and chilli concoction which left no room for complaints.
BUN CHA (RM17.90) - delectable grilled sliced pork belly and minced pork patties doused in a tantalising sauce of pure fish sauce with pickled green papaya and carrot, and chopped chilli. Fresh lettuce leaves became edible parcels lined with basil and filled with Vietnamese rice vermicelli then meat. Dunked into the tantalising sauce, our mouths were suffused with a riot of palate-pleasing flavours and textures.
PHO BO (RM18.90) - this perennial noodle dish hailed from North Vietnam, featuring a clear 12-hour simmered beef marrow broth as the base. Served with tender slices of Australian tenderloin and brisket, the slippery smooth flat rice noodles were a comforting delight to savour. Fresh basil, beansprouts, fresh lime wedges and housemade Sriracha chilli sauce came on the side for us to customise according to preference. We polished everything off, down to the last drop of soup.
Special mention must be made of An Viet's social consciousness of preventing food wastage. Diners are encouraged to choose their serving portions, between 80g to 200g, for noodles and rice so that no noodle or rice grain is left uneaten. An Viet also donates 10 sen for every meal finished on its premises to a social enterprise in Vietnam to train disadvantaged youths with vocational skill development.
GRILLED LEMONGRASS CHICKEN (RM15.90) - a notable signature which has boneless chicken thigh marinated in lemongrass and chilli then grilled to golden brown perfection. The chicken's fragrantly smoky aroma coupled with juicy, mouth-watering tenderness almost had us crowing with pleasure. Aptly supported by a trio of rice, pickles and a sunny side-up egg, the dish left us sighing with contentment.
BANH MI - a popular bready delight of crusty baguette sandiwch. The delicious filling consists of grilled boneless chicken fillet layered with fresh lettuce as well as cucumber and papaya pickles. Ideal for those who want a quick bite without feeling too stuffed.
VIET-FFOGATO (RM9.90) - a twist to the usual Vietnamese drip coffee thanks to the presence of condensed milk ice cream and coconut milk. A delightful amusement to perk up the tastebuds with the rich creaminess of milk and coconut milk amplifying the robust coffee profile.
BANH BIA (RM8.90) WITH/WITHOUT CONDENSED MILK ICE CREAM (RM12.90) - for a sampling of Vietnamese traditional pastry, try the durian flavoured 'mooncake'. The lotus pasta is fine and smooth with the durian nuance pleasantly discernible, tempered by the salted egg yolk at the pastry core. We suggest savouring it with a scoop of condensed milk ice cream for that indulgence finish.
The range of Vietnamese beverages available are also worth checking out. For our humid weather, quench your thirst with XA GUNG (RM7.90 hot, RM8.90 cold) - house-brewed lemongrass and ginger drink. This folk tea remedy offers much touted benefits: helping with weight loss, boosting the immune system, balancing blood acidity and detoxing impurities from our body.
Fresh coconut water and flesh are put to imaginative use to create SINH TO DUA (RM10.90), a cool mocktail blended with milk and ice. Superbly refreshing, it's a drink to go nuts over.

For reservations at An Viet, call tel: 03-2201 1181. Address: Lot LG 203B, The Gardens, Mid Valley City, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Kuala Lumpur

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