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Kuala Lumpur - Best Vietnamese in Town!

klyeoh Jul 26, 2012 09:51 AM

I'm surprised to finally found myself in Sao Nam this evening. It's one of those places which I hear people rave about for years & years, but which I never seemed to step into myself. Anyways, I was cajoled, persuaded and finally dragged in there this evening by a well-meaning bunch of young women with big appetites from my office. I was a bit apprehensive at first - restaurant folks were speaking Indonesian to each other, not Vietnamese - and I began to doubt if the food there would measure up to my expectations, as compared to what I'd tried in Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon.

Well, it turned out that our meal at Sao Nam was simply a delight! What we had:

- Sao Nam's house special: "Goi Mang Cut" - the much-vaunted mangosteen and prawn salad (supposedly seasonal but, hey, it *is* mangosteen - and durian - season right now). The dish was a complex combination of flavors & textures: fresh, chilled mangosteens, Vietnamese dried squid, fresh grated coconut , slices of poached chicken, fresh tiger prawns, crushed peanuts & toasted sesame seed. Very, very delicious, and worth a trip to this restaurant in itself.

- "Cha gio" - golden crisp-fried spring rolls, filled with chicken, carrots, yam, wood-ear fungus. Delicious when wrapped in fresh lettuce leaves, with a sprig of fresh basil leaves, then dipped into "nuoc cham" (fish sauce-garlic-chillies-lime-vinegar-sugar).

- "Goi cuon" - another insanely popular South Vietnam specialty: freshly spring rolls filled with chicken, lettuce, mint, glass noodles & fresh prawns.

- "Ga Kho To" - slow-cooked caramelised chicken. This was a bit too sweet for my taste - but I'd tasted even sweeter versions in Vietnam , so you can't really fault Sao Nam for offering an authentic taste of Vietnam here.

- "Ga Nuong Mat Ong" - grilled chicken which had been marinated in garlic, five-spice powder, chilies, fish sauce & pepper, before being drizzled with honey.

- "Vit Sot Cam" - the very French-influenced, yet truly Vietnam-ized duck a l'orange - yup, the thick, sweet orange sauce contained some really tasty "nuoc mam" (fermented fish sauce). Absolutely delish with steamed white rice.

- "Che Baba", which was described as the Vietnamese "bubur cha-cha", with red beans, yam, wood-ear fungus, sweet potatoes and sago. Not very tasty as Malaysian "bubur cha-cha" as the Viet version was too thick, slimy & gluggy.

- "Kem Chuoi", an interesting semi-frozen banana dessert, flavored with coconut milk, and topped with grated coconut and peanuts. It's served with a generous drizzle of chocolate sauce. Not too bad, but not my kind of sweet.

All in all, fab dinner & wonderful company.

Address details
Sao Nam
25 Tengkat Tong Shin
50200 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603-21441225

  1. huiray Jul 26, 2012 04:18 PM

    Tong Shin Terrace! Haven't heard that name for a while. :-)

    Hmm - sweet, sweet, sweet. Personally I also prefer my food not quite as sweet although it is true Thai and vietnamese cuisine use quite a bit of sugar and sugar-equivalents in their dishes. Nevertheless, the food sounds and looks very enticing.

    Isn't gỏi cuốn normally made with bún (rice vermicelli) rather than glass noodles? At least I'm more used to eating it with that in it.

    I get fried Viet-style chicken wings from a local (pretty decent) place here in my parts which are very tasty indeed but definitely on the sweet and sticky side.

    What are those three small red round objects served wit the grilled chicken? Cherry tomatoes?

    3 Replies
    1. re: huiray
      klyeoh Jul 26, 2012 05:03 PM

      You're right, huiray, it's vermicelli rather than glass noodles in the "goi cuon" we tried - I wasn't paying attention & mixed that up with Filipino "lumpia".

      BTW, another write-up from Tingkat Tong Shin - this one was from a KL visit *prior* to my job posting here:

      1. re: klyeoh
        huiray Jul 27, 2012 05:25 AM

        Aha. Where does that place (Ngau Kee) rate on your personal list with other stalls/shops for beef ball noodles now that you've had a chance to sample other places?

        1. re: huiray
          klyeoh Jul 27, 2012 07:16 AM

          Still very high - only Soong Kee (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/798825) would rate above Ngau Kee, IMO. I love Ngau Kee because of its old world charm, warts (or should I say, "rats") & all.

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