Restaurant: Sao Nam
Place: 25, Tengkat Tong Shin, KL
Tel: 03-2144 1225/8225
Other outlet: Lot P-36, 2nd Flr, Sri Hartamas Shopping Centre, Plaza Damas.
Tel: 03-6201 0225
Verdict: I'm going back for more!
Now, I have read various reviews and heard from various people about Sao Nam. And mostly, it's been good. I've also walked past it many many times as it's right next to Max Fine Wine and Dine.
The parents were free for dinner tonight and my dad felt like eating Vietnamese food. We had to decide between Viet Passion in Chulan Square and Sao Nam. I voted for Sao Nam simply because I've heard more people talk about it. But, not to worry, we'll visit Viet Passion one day to compare.
For starters, we ordered goi cuon (fresh prawn spring roll), banh xeo (vietnamese crispy pancake) and goi buoi (pomelo salad).
The goi cuon came first and was served with hoisin sauce. The prawns were fresh and veg were still crunchy.
I loved the banh xeo. I'd already read about this dish in Bobby Chinn's Wild, Wild East book so when I saw it on the menu, I knew I had to order it! The portion was really huge and served with lettuce leaves which we used to wrap the banh xeo in together with mint and basil leaves, and the dipping sauce.
The goi buoi was refreshing, served with prawns as well. We wanted to try the goi mang cut (mangosteen and prawn salad) which was one of Sao Nam's award winning dishes apparently but that wasn't available.
Then we each ordered a type of noodles.
Dad of course had the mandatory pho bo (beef noodle soup), his benchmark for Vietnamese cuisine. He loved it, said the beef was of really good quality and he pretty much finished off the whole bowl!
I tried some and sadly, I didn't quite enjoy it as much. Perhaps it was because I had the other noodles first which had a much stronger taste and therefore the pho bo seemed more bland in comparison.
The best pho bo I have had was in Dallas, Texas 9 years ago. Uncle Wai Keong and family were living there for a couple of years and they took us to try this Vietnamese restaurant there. Really good beef and superb stock. A close second is Pho 2000, near the Ben Thanh market in Ho Chi Minh City. This place has pictures of Bill Clinton eating there when he visited the city. I think we ate at this restaurant everyday when we were there. Of course, it was really convenient as it was around the corner from our hotel.
Mom had the lac xa (Vietnamese laksa) which was a dry version, instead of the soup ones we have in Malaysia. I didn't particularly like this either but again, that could be because it tasted milder than my noodles.
I had the bun thit nuong (grilled lemongrass chicken noodle salad). Rather sweet for my dad's liking but tasted really good to me! You can also have it with beef instead of the chicken.
Rommel had the canh chua ca (fish noodle soup). I really liked the soup stock so I kept drinking it. My only vice was that they used fresh water fish - I'm just iffy about fresh water fish but at least nowadays I will still eat it. When I was younger, I'd just spit it out and refuse to touch the dish thereafter.
We also ordered a ca noung pate (grill fish wrap in pate) simply because its picture looked really good. Rommel and I are not fans of chicken liver but we couldn't really detect the liver taste in this dish. I got a hint that they had used fresh water fish, but this was not very strong.
We got greedy... So even though we were all absolutely stuffed, we still ordered dessert. My dad wanted the che ba ba (the Vietnamese version of bubur chacha) which came in a rather pathetic looking and really small bowl. Not much bigger that the bowl used to serve the dipping sauces. But then we found that it was really sweet and any more than that amount would have ruined it.
Another dessert that looked interesting was the kem chuoi (banana freeze). "Ripe banana, coconut milk with grated coconut and peanuts. Frozen and served with chocolate topping." Went exceptionally well with the cup of Vietnamese coffee we each had.
Sorry I didnt take pictures tonight. The lighting was rather dim and so I knew the pictures most likely would not have come out nice. But, you can view most of the dishes on Sao Nam's website (link as above). We pretty much ordered based on how the food looked in the pictures.
Note: Sao Nam has a whole section dedicated to vegetarian food so it's great for Sunaina. Must tell her when she gets back from Sydney!
Sunday, 6 April 2008
Restaurant: Sao Nam