Friday, June 27, 2008
Madam Saigon has been at Liang Seah Street for quite a few years but it's only now that I've ever stepped in. Ah, I wish I discovered them earlier. It's a simple place with unpretentious food.
We began with a platter of mixed spring rolls (about S$18) - fresh prawn rice paper rolls, fried spring rolls and prawn net rolls. All very good, served with two dips - a fish sauce based one with sliced chili, and a mildly spicy fermented bean sauce (think "taucheo"). I could just eat platters of this and be happy!
Hubby thinks Vietnamese is like a pale cousin of Thai cuisine. I quite disagree, although this salad makes me understand why he would think so. It's similar to the Thai version, but tastes like they didn't add the usual fiery, tangy dressing.
Of course, the true test of a Vietnamese restaurant is always its "pho", or beef noodles in soup. Madam Saigon has various combinations -the Special Beef Noodle Soup (about S$8) comes with beef meatballs, flank and brisket.
The staff very thoughtfully replenished my plate of sprouts, mint and basil because hubby nearly finished munching on them before my soup arrived.
The broth is fairly robust and sweet, but did not impress me that much (but don't mind me, I'm just forever ruined by a most delicious pho in San Francisco). However, to my surprise, hubby (who normally hates soupy stuff) actually proclaimed preference for this pho over his own dish of fried noodles. Now that is a feat, getting hubby to like any soup at all!
Here's hubby's fried beef kway teow, which I initially disdained as more Chinese than Vietnamese. But I ended up preferring this to my soup. Nicely caramelised rice noodles, topped with sweetly savoury pieces of beef. It's not quite Chinese beef horfun, as the flavours are a little bit more complex (more like teriyaki with onion).
I love Vietnamese food for its light, clean, healthy but delicious flavours. But the general consensus is that authentic Vietnamese in Singapore is hard to find, even though more restaurants have sprouted up in recent years. I can't tell how authentic Madam Saigon is, given that I've never been to Vietnam per se. They don't serve pork or lard, so that's already one modification (they are not halal-certified though). But I did enjoy my meal. I also like that this is a casual but cosy joint. Service was quite good, with observant wait staff noting your needs and topping up iced water regularly. Portions here are not large but the food is generally decent. Most mains are less than S$10. The whole meal for two came up to a reasonable S$48 after taxes and service charge. I'd come back again to try other stuff.
30 Liang Seah Street
Open daily 11.30am - 3pm (lunch); 6-11pm (dinner)
Sundays & public holidays: noon-4pm (lunch); 5.30pm - 11pm (dinner)
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