located at 172 Nguyễn Đình Chiểu, P.6, Q.3. recommendations needed (best get a table on the air-conditioned second floor if you’re a tourist), website here, tel (84.8) 3930 2379.
utterly fantastic seafood in a new restaurant with quick and efficient service, our new favourite place in ho chi minh. just as with song ngu, we’ve been coming here for years, though we used to prefer that restaurant to this place – but that has switched about. ngoc suong is now in a new location, with a slick new building and lots of waiting staff, modern furnishings and improved food – everything we could want from a restaurant, really.
you’ll notice that the dishes here look very similar – and that’s because they essentially fall into the same category of upmarket seafood restaurants, much like jumbo and long beach here in singapore. they have aquariums on the ground floor from which you can order produce cooked to your desire, and if you don’t go there to pick but order at your table, they do bring up the large prawns for your supposed inspection before cooking it – quite a quaint and rather awesome thing to see, actually.
we started with with a jellyfish salad here, which was so good we had two servings of it and only didn’t get a third because everything else was so good – it had crunch from both the jellyfish and peanuts, and immense flavor from the aromatics and dressing; possibly the best jellyfish dish I’ve had in a while, and very different from the chinese preparation. my parents really like the fried spring rolls, which I think were seafood wrapped in beancurd skin and fried till crisp – two plates of this, too.
but on to the seafood – and these were all good so I’m just going to tell you what we had: barbecued spicy squid, prawns steamed in a coconut shell, clams in a coconut milk gravy, baby conches simply barbecued, giant prawns – both steamed and grilled, as well as giant whelks with lots of garlic. I still can’t decide whether a steamed king prawn with the succulent fat retained within the head (do you see it up there? all juicy and tempting and appetite-inducing) like a sort of present is better than the grilled version with spring-ier meat and the delicious smell of char – but the solution, really, is just to have both.
the waiters here speak better english, so it’s easy both to order and be very specific about what you want, which is great. they are also very helpful and efficient, and the food comes out both delicious and pleasantly fast, in that it’s not so quick that food goes cold, but fast enough so you don’t get awkward pauses in the midst of the meal. I cannot give you a more unequivocal recommendation for this place – so have a go at it if you’re in the city, and you’ll wind up with happy bellies like us, walking it off after dinner.