A few days ago, I started to crave badly for Vietnamese food. What sparked it off was my reminiscing about a backpacking trip in Vietnam I did a few years ago. And the highlight of that trip for me had been Vietnamese food.
Deciding to satiate this craving, this Saturday we searched for Vietnamese restaurants in Singapore. The number is surprisingly few, considering how many Vietnamese are here. A small joint named Long Phung came highly recommended and we headed off there.
It is located in Joo Chiat Road, an area off Bugis which I had never explored. The region is full of old two-storey Chinese longhouses which have been converted into small restaurants, bars and hostels. We arrived at Long Phung at 6PM, but the place was already packed. The customers were mostly Vietnamese, which I noted as a good sign that the food would be close to authentic.
The menu is in Vietnamese, but thankfully it has photos, so I knew what to order. We started off with Gỏi cuốn and Chả giò. Gỏi cuốn is rice, prawn, pork and herbs rolled in rice paper. With the accompanying peanut sauce, it was delicious and quite heavy. Chả giò is a fried spring roll of minced pork. This was just right, crispy and not-so-oily.
Gỏi cuốn was quite filling, but I had to have my pho. We ordered Phở Gà, the chicken version of the Vietnamese noodle soup. It is a bowl of chicken, rice noodles, various herbs, onion and broth. The taste was quite similar to what I had eaten in South Vietnam. The flavor of the herbs was a bit muted though.
We ended the journey with the closest cousin of South Indian filter coffee: Cà phê sữa nóng. You choose whether you want it hot or color and with or without milk. Every cup of Vietnamese coffee comes with its own filter. The cup is filled with cold milk, you place the filter on top with coffee powder inside it. Pour hot water into the filter and it drips down and you have your coffee. The coffee was rich and a pleasing end to the meal.
When we left, the joint was full with a crowd waiting outside for a table. The weather was cool and windy and we took a walk along the road. Though there were a few other Vietnamese joints nearby, this was the only one which was full. Waiting for our bus, I realized how you could relish so many old memories with just some food.