It would be rude of me to visit HCMC without sitting down for a proper Vietnamese meal, so a little research and recommendation by my Vietnamese friend (always good to have a local's approval) had us visiting Cục Gạch Quán for lunch.
Occupying an entire terrace house, Cục Gạch Quán feels like home the moment you stepped through the doors, filled with casual wooden tableware, colourful curtain drapes and antique furnitures everywhere. It would be a good idea to make reservations, though I gambled that the place would have walk-in tables for a late lunch. While the thick menu can be quite daunting at first, the friendly waiters are always keen to recommend some dishes for your visit. Thankfully, the English menu didn't tout a higher price too.
I realised that regardless of what you choose, the juices always turn out to be pretty sour if you drink it on its own (served with honey though). While my friend had an Orange Juice, she helped me order an exotic one with the scientific name of Spondias Dulcis, aka the Ambarella fruit. Honestly, I still don't know what that was, but nonetheless sourishly refreshing for a start.
While most people raved about Thai salads, I found the Viet counterparts more to my liking. Lightly tossed in a sweet-tasting dressing, the mix of fresh vegetables, nuts, crunchy prawns and pork belly strips resulted in a very appetising starter.
Served simmering in some sort of bean paste sauce, the fish chunks were well-marinated and good to go with rice, which you could also opt to have it fried (more like a mix I suspect) with the same bean paste sauce to add a savoury touch.
Now this was definitely a first for me, since I didn't even know that pumpkin had flowers. An interesting, tasty greens for the meal. The soup also felt very homecooked, with a subtle sweetness coming from the crab meat.
On the second visit with my Singaporean buddy, we encored some of the dishes but also had Caramelized Pork Stew and Chilli Prawn Stew that were really satisfying as well. I can't remember the prices, but would set you back about 20-40sgd per pax. If you want a cosy introduction to Vietnamese family-styled dishes, Cục Gạch Quán is surely a great place to start.
Cục Gạch Quán
10 Dang Tat, Ward Tan Dinh,
District 1, Saigon
Tel: +84 8 3848 0144
Directions: This place is a little out of the way in city centre. So just hail a taxi la
Taken with Nikon D70 and HTC One