One of my favourite cuisines is Vietnamese and I am so glad that there are many different Vietnamese restaurants to choose from in Hong Kong. One of the best is Nha Trang, which has outlets in Central (88-90 Wellington Street), Wan Chai (213 Queen’s Road East) and in the Ocean Terminal in Harbour City in Kowloon.
Nha Trang is the name of a popular bay in Vietnam, and this restaurant is very popular too. They serve food all day long, but most of the time you have to queue for a place. I don’t think they take reservations or if they do it is only for a large group. Otherwise you just have to arrive, pick a number and wait.
When we go there we often start our mail with a fresh coconut juice. The juice is watery and not as sweet as one might think, so it is quite refreshing.
We then pick a range of different dishes to share and we do have a couple of favourites we always pick. One of them is the classic Pho with raw beef. The soup will be hot enough to boil the meat while it is in the soup. I love the Pho they serve, it is very fresh and fragrant with lots of herbs. The noodles are chewy (but in a good way) and the meat tends to be tender and lean.
Another of our favourite dish is the Sizzling Crepes Saigon. The crepes are made from rice flour batter with a touch of coconut milk and curry. They are filled with pork, shrimp and vegetables and eaten with lettuce and herbs. You have to break the crepe into pieces, and then roll them in a fresh lettuce leaf with fresh herbs. It is a little difficult to eat at first but you will be rewarded with a fresh, crunchy and very fragrant crepe dish. I know that this is a simple dish, but the way the textures and flavours work together it is really tasty.
Next we have ordered some satays (a classic staple of the Thai/Vietnamese kitchen) and a beef cube dish that is very rich in flavour. The beef must have been stewed for a long time, as it almost fells apart when I put it in my mouth. The flavours are rich and earthy, with some cinnamon. Definitely a dish for rainy, grey and cold days, so I have to find out if I can get the recipe to cook it at home.
Another of Nha Trang’s classics is the broken rice platter. This is the first time I had it and we made the mistake of ordering it as a side. It was a huge side portion and because we’ve had so many other dishes to try (even more as I did not take pictures of all of them, so the ones we are missing are the deep fried soft shell crab, the crab meat grilled on a sugarcane stick and the pork belly) we did not do it full justice. We could not finish it! But it was lovely. Broken rice is aged rice thus yield a different texture than the regular jasmine rice. They are so well loved by the Viet that in Saigon, there are restaurants that served only this single dish. Our platter consist of shredded pork with ground toasted rice, grilled lemongrass pork chop and steamed frittata.
At Nha Trang food is always plenty, prices are more than affordable (often just 300-400 HKD for a big meal for four people) and the service is quick. Waiters will bring you fresh hot or cold water and serve you the dishes as soon as they are prepared in the kitchen. The place is loved by young and old, so do not be offended if there are lots of kids around you – everyone seems to love the soups, rice dishes and stir fries.
Just note that the Wellington Street shop only takes cash, no credit cards.
– 88-90 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong, Tel: 2581 9992
– Shop No 2, 2/F Wu Chung House, 213 Queen’s Road East, Wanchai, Hong Kong, Tel: 2891 1177
– Shop OT G51 Ground Floor, Ocean Terminal Harbour City Kowloon, Tel: 2199 7779