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May 23, 2008 03:41 PM

Ngon Bistro, MSP

Which Pho should I get at this place? I hear it's the place to come for Pho. They all sound pretty good. Also, are there any good vegetarian options without mushrooms, as my girlfriend hates mushrooms, but loves tofu.

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  1. Click on my name and you'll find my review of Ngon Bistro from a few weeks back. Although the phos were good, I think the French-Asian fusion dishes, like duck cassoulet and the fresh fish specials really shone. Alternatively, you could eat your way through the entire interesting, fun appetizer menu (rabbit dumplings, wild boar sausage, etc.) and be very pleased.

    1. Here's a link to their dinner menu--I like the beef ribeye OR the one with all the various beef items brisket, beef ball, flank and tendon, etc. I don't think there is any vegetarian pho on the menu.

      They have vegetarian spring rolls and towards the bottom of the menu, some vegetarian entrees. The vegetarian com tam is fantastic, but I think all their vegetarian items have mushrooms in them.

      I adore Ngon Bistro and love their pho, but you should know that their pho is pretty atypical with a lot (in my opinion) of unusual subtle flavor in it. If you're a traditional pho purist, you might be disappointed.


      2 Replies
      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        TDQ, how would you say it differs from Quang's pho, in terms of ingredients?

        1. re: Enso

          Hi Enso, I'm not a Quang devotee as much as I'm a Pho Tau Bay and Saigon devotee, so, I'm not sure I can do a meaningful comparison of the pho for you. The best description of Ngon Bistro's pho is Dara's--the last sentence of the second paragraph describes the broth (anise, I think, being one of the keys for me) and the last paragraph of the first page describes the various types of pho Ngon offers.

          I agree with Jordan, by the way, though, that it's some of the French-influenced dishes that really shine at Ngon Bistro. My favorites are the duck confit, the ginger chicken (which seems to be off the menu--maybe the cornish game hen has replaced it), and all the desserts (including the mung bean cheesecake, either chocolate or vanilla, as well as their ginger creme brulee). I also like their sweet potato shrimp appetizer, but I'm a nut for anything with sweet potatoes in general...

          The vegetarian com tam is delicious, as are the beef lettuce wrap appetizers. And they have a nice wine list. Not that I'm a wine expert (or any kind of expert, for that matter) , but it's just nice to have a selection of wines to choose from.


      2. i'm a *huge* fan of ngon too! i like the handmade meatball pho (pho bo vien). the meatballs are just classic and delicious. i was there very recently and spoke to the chef, and he says he's currently transitioning the winter menu into spring, so look out for changes. i got a delicious braised short rib dish that's not on the web page. if you called ahead and requested a mushroom-free veggie dish i bet they'd accommodate.

        5 Replies
        1. re: soupkitten

          I ended up ordering the pho w/ brisket and all different types of meat, but they served me the ribeye pho. It was delicious, but I was expecting the other.

          1. re: salvage7

            Oh no! I hope you said something to your server!


          2. re: soupkitten

            What do you like about the meatballs? Do they have vietnamese flavors? Just wondering.

            1. re: karykat

              i believe they are traditional vietnamese meatballs-- i just think they are better at ngon than at many places in town. i read a report from a poster in another thread about ngon that the chef's dad comes in once a week to make them by hand. they have a very dense silky texture (so they're not like meatballs from other cuisines--they're a lot like the filling of round puffy steamed dough dumplings? if that's any help at all?). more "deep" (to me) spices-- anise, pepper, etc. it took me a while to get around to ordering the dish that may appear to be the most simple basic thing on ngon's menu, but i'm hooked on this soup, crave it when i'm sick, dream about it, you know. :)

              1. re: soupkitten

                This sounds wonderful. I just ran across a recipe for vietnamese meatballs somewhere and did note the interesting spices.

                I will try this when we go next.

          3. I have been watching the posts extolling the virtues of Ngon Bistro for some time and finally mustered up the courage to forgo my usual trip to Quang to try it. That was my first and last trip to Ngon Bistro. We ordered the tofu lettuce wraps, pork eggrolls, and tofu vermicelli salad. The salad looked absolutely gorgeous--fresh ingredients, etc.--but, for as good as it looked, it sure was bland. The #407 at Quang beats it out hands down every time. Same thing with the eggrolls. They looked fantastic but were incredibly bland. The tofu lettuce wraps also were quite bland. The restaurant itself is a really nice place but I'll choose the food and prices at Quang over NB's ambiance.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Mahlzeit

              If you want Vietnamese standards, I think you will probably be mildly disappointed by Ngon. You should really have tried the more unusual items on the menu.

              1. re: Mahlzeit

                Are there prepared sauces on the table? I'm going to check Ngon out this week. Visual is important, but not without respect of great smell, taste, and texture. The problem with ugly or poorly presented food is that it lowers the expectation on sight. When it all comes together, then you've got something. I'd gladly eat ugly delicious, rather than pretty and pedestrian. This topic is exceptionally broad, but a mottled discolored piece of fruit is often absolutely delicious. We've been taught to look for visual perfection and flavor often takes the back seat. We've forgotten about ripeness and the finer points of taste. The politicization of local food has overemphasized carbon foot print mumbo jumbo and greatly forgotten the concept of ripeness and time from harvest to table. Off the soap box.