Sorry I haven’t been able to update my blog. I’ve been bed ridden for the past couple of days and it’s quite hard to think about delicious dishes when you’re stomach feels like it’s been twisted inside out. I was looking through some photos and I realized that this was something I still wasn’t able to write about during our last trip to Vietnam. I found this restaurant while trying to research some new places we could visit because since Ho Chi Minh really is a terrible place for English speakers, I had to rely heavily on the knowledge that different online reviews give and a google map to show the cab where to go…and believe me, there are TONS of google map errors in Ho Chi Minh city, but that God, this didn’t turn out to be one of them. So we called in to make sure that they were open (and guess what? They spoke English!) and showed the taxi the Google Map on where to go. After a creepy long ride, he brought us down to what looked liked a house…we didn’t notice lights or even a sign since it was night time. There was a big gate that was slightly open and when we pushed it, it revealed this lovely little porch and a waiter already waiting to let us inside. This place was called Cac Guch Quán, and it was a family owned and run restaurant that seemed to like making everything out of scratch…perfect.
We entered and almost all the tables were occupied. The interior design was fantastic and there was this room that was literally a koi pond with steps going to a small loft. We entered the loft and found more people in the most unsuspecting dining areas like a garden nook, a bed and even on a bay window. Down from the loft was a clear view of the kitchen and grandma already getting to work on a spice mix that she is probably making with her grandson…
Funny thing was, they had this little booklet which was quite thick…and that was their menu. The waiters were very impressive, since they were very accommodating and hospitable, as well as their English was impeccable. I soon realized that this place was all about the experience…and I was hoping, the food.
So these were what we had that I found memorable (forgive the photos, our table was so dark and intimate, i thought putting the flash on would piss off the neighboring tables):
Goi ga – This Vietnamese chicken salad was so refreshing because of the combination of the lime and herbs.
Squid with tamarind sauce was delightful! It was a little spicy and reminds me of a peppered stir fry squid, except it has this tangy sauce.
Soft shell crab was served with an array of wonderful baby sprouts and the different greens that added flavor and texture. I love the way that even to the tiniest leaf, they took pains in making sure that this plate came out with the best greens possible.
Homemade tofu with lemon grass and chili was light and airy it was like eating a cloud. This was the discovery of the year! How can something with such a crisp exterior be like a cloud inside?! I think this is the best tofu I’ve tasted so far in my life!
Rolls with mustard leaf and prawn – this was simply your fresh spring roll, deconstructed and reconstructed again by rolling it in a mustard leaf. Though the mustard leaf is not a usual choice for wrapping rolls, it gave this roll a nice spicy and herby taste.
And of course, my fresh passionfruit juice that was served in a bottle with honey and bean stirrer on the side that made this place scream “organic”.
The food in this restaurant was very much influenced by Chinese techniques, but the ingredients were Vietnamese. Some of the dishes were bordering the salty level but since we ordered rice, we just put it on the rice and everything was great again. Though the prices of the food and drink were unusually higher than what you would expect in Saigon standards, the food is definitely an experience on its own.
Cuc Gach Quan
10 Dang Tat, Ward Tan Dinh, District 1, Saigon
Tel: (84.8) 38 48 01 44 // (84) 01 657 10 10 10