Thursday, September 1

Nghi Ngan Quan

People say you have to really explore a city's suburbs to find culinary gems. I guess it would be true for Adelaide, whose city centre and Chinatown areas are overwhelmingly bombarded by overly priced European restaurants and takeaway-quality Asian restaurants. So into the suburbs I went with a few classmates of mine tonight.

LocationShop 4/34 Wright St, Ferryden Park (see map)

In the quiet northern suburb of Ferryden Park lies two fairly popular vietnamese restaurants; "Star star" and the other is "Nghi Ngan Quan". The latter was unanimously recommended by my vietnamese friends, so guess we didn't need to strain our heads to make a decision.
From what I've gathered this restaurant is run by a vietnamese family, and appropriately all the waiters, chefs and kitchenhands are Vietnamese, but when entering the restaurant there really isn't a feeling of detachment. They all spoke good English and were unbiased in their treatment to all customers.

Inside the restaurant, the atmosphere felt almost like a lounge, very relaxed and calmed and there was no urge to rush through our order or meal. There was even these black marbles that looked like a miniaturised replica of the Rundle Mall balls. But I digress.

Price: Like most family-owned suburban restaurants, prices are very reasonable. Rice and noodle sets are $10-12 for small and $11-15 for large. Entrees are below $10 and generally serves 2-4 people. There is not many shared dishes in the flavour of Chinese restaurants but for the limited options available they are priced around $12-$15. A large variety of standard and special drinks can also be ordered for $3-5.

Food: We did not order entree, but from what other tables ordered, it doesn't seem to be popular. My particular main dish was Con Tam Suon Cha (Broken Rice with BBQ Pork Chop and Steamed Pork Cake).  

Despite its humble appearance it was a very impressive dish featuring not 3, but 4 different cooking styles for pork. At first I thought the garnishing in the middle of the plate was some type of rice noodle, but upon tasting some I realised it was actually shredded pork skin! The steamed mince cake was fantastic, and was actually the only part of the dish I could finish. What really made it work so well was the sauce that was made for it. The seemingly typical mix of vinegar, raw sugar, shredded carrots, chilli and raw onion really brought out the vibrant sweet and saltiness of the cake.

As in any authentic vietnamese restaurants, there are a variety of drinks not commonly available in generic 'asian' restaurants with the menu and dishes tailored to western tastes. The Che ba mau (or 3 colour beans drink, picture on the left) and Sinh To Bo (avocado smoothie, picture on the right) are distinctive in both its visual presentation and flavour, although the Sing To Bo was a bit too sweet for my tastes.

Other: my classmates ordered vegetarian and crab rice noodle, and although I did not try them I could assume it was a satisfying experience since they both finished it quite thoroughly. 

Rating: 4.5/5.

What I love about many family restaurants is that they put more heart into their cooking rather than presentation, and what comes out of the kitchen really shows it. Their food is richer in taste, their servings are larger, the staff is more friendly and remembers returning customers. The only thing that spoilt it was the overly sweet Che ba mau that accompanied an otherwise satisfying meal. 

The family really worked hard in giving this restaurant a distinct taste and experience. And for its price and variety, this is a highly recommended choice for anyone wanting to try something Asian that is not Chinese or Japanese!

Nghi Ngan Quan on Urbanspoon


  1. thanks for your post Joseph, I just made a few additions (link, map, generally I use the small icon for urbanspoon eg the bottom one on: that looks delicious. YUM.

  2. no worries. I'll use the mini spoon from now on :)

  3. Great review - Nghi Ngan Quan is one of my favourite Vietnamese restaurants. You mention another restaurant "Star Star" - can you please provide me with an address? i love trying new places.

  4. I actually can't remember the address of that restaurant, but this region of Adelaide contains a large community of vietnamese, so I would imagine if you drove around you would find lots of their cultural cuisine in both restaurant and takeaway form.

    At least one other I am aware of is Sunflower Viet Restaurant. Their address is 30-32 Days Road, Croydon Park SA 5008.