Asia is known for street food (very much its version of casual and fast food) and Vietnam is no exception. However, eating on the streets of Vietnam is not for the fainthearted. So Quan An Ngon delivers to us what we might have ordinarily wanted but were too afraid to try. And it does so, especially at its Hanoi branch, in a beautiful courtyard setting with lush foliage. The bustle from the many "street vendors" in the courtyard certainly adds to the lively experience.
According to our local guide, Ngon offers a great representation of cuisines from the South (where it started its first restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City) to the North in Hanoi, and provinces in between. Lots of noodles, rolls, pancakes, grilled meats, etc. While cuisine is not gourmand standard, it is a great introduction to the cuisine of Vietnam.
The rice paper pancakes we ordered were light and a great appetiser.
The grilled beef cubes with chilli and lime were tasty but the beef was a bad cut and was as chewy as an old leather shoe. The chilli infused salt accompaniment was a nice touch though.
Their version of the calamari fritter was quite different in their use of a cassava flour coat, which was nice but got heavy after a while. Saving grace, the squids retained their tenderness inside the protective layer of the cassava coat.
Dessert of glutinous rice with their local honey (probably from Sapa) was reminiscent of the childhood dessert and made for a sweet ending to an interesting night.