Monday, April 2, 2012

Ngon Vietnamese Bistro – St. Paul, MN

D.Rough and I randomly get hankerin’s for Vietnamese Pho and we know one of our go-to participants in this is Rita. She’s almost always down for the emergency Pho call from us. We decided to cheat on our usual Pho place and try a new one – well, new for me, since the other two have been there before.

The inside wasn’t at all what I expected. I’ve driven by here a number of times and the outside doesn’t really match the inside. The outside makes it look like it’s some sort of new wave modern Asian food place and the inside seems a little… uh… down home country to me. Again, that’s just me. The place was full of people though - on a Sunday afternoon, which is a really good sign.

We perused the menu and decided we’d split some appetizers and then we’d all get our own entrees. After MUCH deliberation, we decided on the Pho spiced Fischer Farms Pork Belly with micro greens and cilantro sauce, and we also needed some fresh spring rolls. D.Rough ordered the Hu Tiue (another Vietnamese soup) and I ordered the Pho (I got the special Pho).

The appetizers came out really fast and we dug in. Rita went with the Pork Belly first and D.Rough and I attacked the spring rolls. The spring rolls were really really good. Very fresh ingredients and the dipping sauce was the hoisin-type sauce with peanuts in it. Really an awesome appetizer. Better than a lot of places. We noticed Rita had a weird expression on her face. She said we needed to try the pork belly. Rita had shredded some of it into bite size pieces and we both took some. Wow, this pork belly was out of this world. This piece of meat right here rivaled the amazing meal we had at W.A. Frost a while back, and that was near the top of the list. I’m not sure how they got the meat so tender, or the flavor so amazing, but they need to patent this particular preparation. It was incredible. I’m not overstating this and I will recommend this dish to anyone who will listen to me. This is top-notch pork belly. Best of the best, kind of stuff. The cilantro tomato sauce that comes along side it is also delicious, but the meat itself stands on its own, and doesn’t need the help (although it’s a delicious combination).

The Pho arrived shortly after that and we were still reeling from the pork belly. Seriously, how would the Pho stack up, after that delicious appetizer? The Pho had all kinds of meat in it – that’s what makes it special. Ribeye, meatballs, and oxtail. Really, quite a good soup. I won’t say it’s the best in the area, or even the best on University Avenue, but it’s a good soup. The broth didn’t seem as thick and hearty as our favorite Pho place, but it’s still delicious, flavor-wise. I had to add a little more of the accoutrements on the table than I usually do, but that just let me experiment a bit with the flavors. Again, the soup is nothing to complain about and I’d get it here again, but there are a few other things I want to try before I return to the soup.

I can’t emphasize enough how delicious the Pork Belly is. We continue to talk about it and there really isn’t any reason I can’t drop in for a quick appetizer and not tell D.Rough about it, right? Hahahaha. I’m kidding. I LIKE to share with her. And by “share”, I mean we’ll both get our own plate full of this pork belly.

I won’t do a top 5 for this one, since I would only put the Pork in the top 5 six times. It’s good. Go here. Eat pork.

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