Jfood tries Ngon Bistro - Very Good
Jfood took the advice of many and Soupkitten and The Dairy Queen in particular and wandered up to SP again for dinner at Ngon Bistro. From the outside this restaurant looks like any other corner storefront. but on the inside it is tastefully decorated in warm natural colors with numerous paintings on the walls. On a Tuesday night at 730 the place was bustling with after work groups of women, yes women, 85% of the diners were female. No commentary needed, Jfood just stating a fact. There were a couple of small tables available and the bar was empty so Jfood decided to take his book to a table.
For an appetizer Jfood decided, with some coaching, to try the Duck Confit that was Wild Acres duck with coconut curry sauce, cilantro & scallions, with toasted baguette and for an entrée, although he really wanted the duck (two ducks would have been much), he decided on the Thousand Hills Short Ribs braised in five spice with grape tomatoes, brussel sprouts & fingerling potatoes in a pork belly broth reduction.
The appetizer was a small mound of the ingredients and with one bite, Jfood was in heaven. The flavors jumped off the chop sticks. What is interesting as well is that the chef decided to add shitake mushrooms as well. This added some nice earthy flavors to an outstanding dish.
The server brought over a knife and fork and Jfood was a little confused, but then he thought maybe the short rib would come in a large piece. Nope. When the dish arrived it looked great. He first tasted the potato, very good, next a bite of a brussel sprout, it had an interesting flavor that Jfood finally figured was horseradish. Next he tried the meat with a tomato. They were also very good. Jfood thought the dish was very good, but not great.
Jfood was looking forward to the cheesecake he had heard about and when the server told him the special of the evening was chocolate chip cheesecake, he was excited. Jfood, always careful with desserts, asked if there were nuts. Unfortunately there were, so Jfood needed to move onto Plan B. He chose the Ginger Brulee. The texture was more eggy than creamy. This was pretty good, but not great.
Overall Jfood was really pleased with this quick trip up and back and he thanks the Ch’ers who suggested and in particular Soupkitten and Dairy Queen.
Hey, I'm relieved you had a better dinner than last night! I'm sorry the cheesecake didn't work out for you, but, maybe on your next visit they'll have a version without nuts. I'm glad you tried the duck confit--that's one of my favs! The ginger creme brulee is one of my favs, too, though I can see why you thought the texture was too eggy. I actually like it that way, but I hadn't really thought (until now) that the texture might not be universally appealing, especially if you were expecting something more delicate. So, sorry to have steered you a little off-course there.
I'm telling you, you could make a meal just of their apps.
If you still want beef pho, you could head up the road a little ways to Saigon (also on University Ave, nearish to Dale) on your next visit. Completely different experience than Ngon Bistro, but still great food. You might have to bring cash, though, as they continue to struggle getting their credit card machine to work.
Ah, Ngon. The #30, Bún Thịt Nướng, is currently one of my favorite dishes in the cities. Of course, you can rarely go wrong with Fischer Farms pork!
Oh, darn - sorry, Jfood! I took the afternoon off from my computer yesterday, or else I would have weighed in with my cautionary two cents: I think the short ribs are good but not great.
Last time I was there, I had the short ribs and wasn't wowed. They're nice and all - good quality meat - but there wasn't much else going on. On the other hand, my husband's Elk Medallions were amazing (and best, the anise cream wasn't too anise-y for the spice-averse Mr. Tastebud).
I'm glad you had the confit - it's one of the Ten Best Appetizers in the Twin Cities, as far as I'm concerned.
P.S. Plunging into our construction-clogged rush-hour traffic in search of good chow is very, very brave. I'm impressed with your bravery and valor!
After walking into a closed Bangkok Thai Deli and staring at the dark interior of Strip Club, jfood returned to Ngon, and remembering some of the sage advice on this thread.
He ordered the Phở Đặc Biệt (Thập Cẩm) Rice noodle with Thousand Hills 100% grass fed beef brisket, lean beef, homemade beef ball, & flank plus the Wild Acres Farms Duck Breast Wild Acres duck breast with a sweet potatoe puree, spicy brussel sprouts, pork belly, & shiitake mushroom curry sauce.
The Pho was outstanding. The first thing jfood did was to swirl the basil from the extra =plate through the broth. This gave a beautiful basil background to the deep rich stock. The beef was tender and delicious. A great Pho.
The duck arrived as jfood received a call that he needed to get on a conference call in 30 minutes. Oh crap. He had to race through the dish and then bolt. The duck had a nice pepper crust, but was a tad overcooked (the server approach jfood earlier and asked if he wanted medium rare - yes), the sweet potato puree was about as good as it gets and then when you added the crunch of the pork belly it was heaven. Jfood was not thrilled with the brussel sprouts. The new tendency is to serve brussel sprouts almost raw and jfood likes his more cooked.
Overall this was a great meal.
Thanks again MSP Hounds.
I love Ngon. It is a must do
every time I am in MSP. I went
there last week and had the rabbit
appetizer and bbq pork salad. My
friend had the duck Pho. The only
downside. No soup is served on the
patio. The waitress said they were
working out those details and should
have it resolved shortly.