Long Phung Vietnamese Restaurant
So yesterday night my parents decided to go for this Vietnamese restaurant at 159 Joo Chiat road. It was about 8.30 when we arrived, and there was still quite a queue in line, so we had to wait for about 15 minutes. The restaurant was fully packed, and the space they had was packed with tables and chairs. There must have been at least 30 people in a space about half a classroom.
In any case, we got to sit at the front, and that was fine.
I must warn you though that this restaurant is smack in the midst of many bars and nightclubs, so there are many things going on around there, so try not to go alone. This restaurant in particular is a lure for the Vietnamese hostesses working around the area. You have been warned.
A funny thing that happened was that my father got scolded by a waitress. Well, you see, all the waitresses come from Vietnam, and have learned to speak Chinese, but not English. So when my father tried to speak to her in English she got unhappy and said something in Vietnamese that we could not understand. So remember, don’t try to speak English to them there!
As for the menu, everything was authentic Vietnamese (from Ho Chi Min I think). All the dishes are named primarily in Vietnamese and only have small English captions. I must say there were quite a few Vietnamese who were there to eat, so the menu in Vietnamese is justified.
So we ordered, and dug into the food. I must apologize for only having pictures of only two dishes. I was too engrossed in eating. Now that that is all said and done, I say, bring on the food!
Grilled pork on vermicelli $6.00 (I forgot the Vietnamese name… Vietnamese scholars please help!)
When it first came to the table, the grilled meat’s fragrance was my first whiff of the dish. And my, it was great. Its tangy grilled aroma was perfect, and when I had a bite, it did not disappoint. First off, my taste buds were assaulted by the gently grilled outer layer of the meat. It had a mildly charred exterior that brought out the most in the meat, yet it did not make the meat dry. The meat was grilled to perfection. In fact, as for the texture, it was moist both on the inside and out, making it tender and juicy, yet leaving enough char to converse with my taste buds. An enjoyable first bite for me. The vermicelli was also uniquely Vietnamese as it is thicker than what we normally have in Singapore and much more springy. It was also not chewy, and when taken with the chilli sauce (top left in picture), it was very refreshingly light and sweet, yet being slightly spicy at the same time.
Grilled pigeons $12.00 for 6
At first glance it may look unappetizing, but believe me, it was actually quite good. As I said before, this restaurant is great in their grilled items. For this, the skin was not too oily, yet it was not burnt or unevenly cooked. It was not even one bit dry. That was the bit that I really liked about this dish. As for the meat, it had better texture than chicken, being more supple, though one would have to put up with harder to get satisfaction of eating a smallish bird. The salt that came with this dish was the interesting part. It was like eating salty sour warheads. I think I tasted lime, sour plum and some other herbs I could not identify. Other than the saltiness, it was akin to the sour sweet.
Beef Pho (Pho Tai, first on menu) $5.50
This dish was great, but somehow still manages to be slightly disappointing. Perhaps it is because I compare it to the Pho I had in Hanoi a few years ago when I visited. This Pho had rather heavy sweet broth whilst the Pho I had in Hanoi had a thinner, saltier broth which I liked more. The mint leaves were also missed. I guess they put MSG, but that was barely noticeable so it wasn’t a problem. I just did not like the broth to be sweet as it did not really go down well with the beef brisket slices. Speaking of the beef, it was generous of the restaurant to give about 9 or 10 slices of brisket, though I can’t say the same for the beef balls, which was one cut into two. The beef was done well as it was not too tough and had the right mix of tendons. The noodles were also good as they were more chewy than most of the kway tiao that we usually get in Singapore, which I felt gave it more substance.
Spring Rolls (Cha Gio, first on menu on the right)$9.00 for 6 rolls, each cut into 2 mouth-sized pieces
This I really loved. I mean, who doesn’t like fried stuff with crispy outer skin and juicy stuffing inside? For me, this worked, especially when matched with the sweet chilli sauce provided, it hit the spot. Well, you know how spring rolls are. Really can’t say much other than that this was a great spring roll dish.
Ice coffee $2.00 for a mug
This was interesting too. This coffee tasted nothing like what I have had before. It is thicker (twice as thick as what most Singapore coffee shops have it) and therefore much more satisfying. There was also this mocha-ish taste that probably came from the milk or butter used to cook the coffee beans, though I really am not sure about this one. Very special coffee that you will not regret having tried.
And here ends the food. As we left at 10 at night, we still could see people coming in and just starting to order. Indeed, the queue only subsided at 9.30, and the restaurant was still mostly full house when we left (The place closes at 1am in the morn). So, if you are in want of a late bite and unafraid of bars and nightclubs, please do give this restaurant a try.
Restaurant overall rating: 4.0/5