Saturday, July 11, 2015

Cuc Gach Quan for traditional Vietnamese Cuisine in a setting to match

We were only in Vietnam for 2 days and 2 dinners, so armed with suggestions from friends, we planned to try two new places, Pizza 4P's, a very popular pizza place - which you can read about here to understand why people MUST TRY pizza in Vietnam, and Cuc Gach Quan for our fix of local Vietnamese Cuisine. 

To be honest, Cuc Gach Quan's claim to fame, at least for me personally, is that it was visited by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt when they were in Vietnam. Hahaha. Though as an additional come on, I think I've been told that the restaurant is owned by an architect who restored an old French Colonial House, and the food they serve is the same food served in Vietnam around 40 years ago.

Cuc Gach Quan is located in District 1, but I would say,
in a less busy, perhaps more residential area.
The restaurant name can be found on one of the small circles decorating the
wooden gate. Across the street, Cuc Gach Quan also has a party venue,
reflected in the picture behind me.
Our server was very proud to show us the pictures of Angelina and Brad,
when they visited on 11/11/11 with the very same gate behind them.

Before entering the property, there is a guy who welcomed us to check if we had any reservations, which we had, so it might be a good idea to make them before coming.
When you enter, you can see that there are tables outside in the courtyard.
The restaurant feels very homey. 
It's almost as if you've been invited to eat in someone's home.
I couldn't resist taking a picture of the painting of a typical Mom and Pop
store. We can see that Lifebouy, Clear and Sunsilk are popular brands here.
The place has an inner courtyard where the Toilets are located, an open
kitchen, and what looked like a small store (to the right) which I forgot to visit.
There were a lot of small touches that make it feel like a home. 
The English menu is thick and leather bound, so they have a letter for guests
that if confused, they can just ask the server. They also only cook local
ingredients, some of which have no English translations.
I took charge of the ordering, and when our starters arrived, Karl immediately
crossed his arms in displeasure because he mistakenly assumed I ordered
too much!
Spring Roll overload. Note that we finished everything.

The other dishes I ordered were small plates.
I love the Vietnamese Beef Salad. When you order this, they will ask you what
 vegetables you want. Our server recommended Fried morning glory (kangkong),
 but we asked him to serve it not fried instead so it's healthier.
On this trip, I discovered a new favorite, what they call "Sour Soup".
It's not quite like our Sinigang, or Thailand's Tom Yum or To Ka Gai,
as you can taste the local fish sauce which gives it a sweet-ish flavor.
This is normally served with fish, but I requested for Chicken instead,
but in the end, it's really the vegetables and the broth that's the best part!
We also ordered the caramelized pork which was served in a clay pot.
The sauce was very good, but the thicker slices of pork were a bit on the tough
I must say that the order forecast was just about right.
We even had space for dessert or a cheese course!
I just couldn't resist including this, because behind us
is the table where Angelina and Brad ate. Hahaha.

This place is definitely worth a visit if you're in Ho Chi Minh and looking for a place to enjoy a traditional meal. just saying.

Thanks for the recommendation Cholo, Kuya Pau, Angelina and Brad!

Cuc Gach Quan
10 Đặng Tất, Tân Định, 
Quận 1, 
Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
+84 8 3848 0144

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