Whenever I chance upon some new exciting area of Singapore that’s actually been there for quite a while, I feel like I’ve been living under a rock. But it also gives me the feeling that there’s always something new to discover no matter how tiny this island is.
This time it was the discovery of Little Vietnam right under our noses at Joo Chiat, which is in the East of Singapore. Even B who is quite a foodie had no clue.
It all started out when we were searching for something healthier to eat and I thought what could be healthier as well as tasty than Vietnamese cuisine. I then started searching the web and came upon blogs that all seemed to point to Joo Chiat. So there we went and had the most authentic experience. The eatery only opens at 1pm so don’t go with a totally empty tummy, unless you just got out of bed like me.
There was already a couple of fans waiting outside, a good ten minutes before the cafe opened. I later discovered why. The minute the shutters go up, the place gets packed in no time.
It’s a good thing we were early, because once we finished our meal, we were met by a long queue when we left the restaurant.
I felt so pleased with myself for ordering the healthiest items like the fresh spring rolls and the chicken pho. B had the beef pho and his only criticism was that the pho was a bit sweet and he suspected that sugar was added. I didn’t notice till he mentioned it and then I had to agree. But it was a really good soup. Of course I still miss what I had in Vietnam, but this was really good value compared to the restaurants. It cost about $9 per person. Had an iced coffee that was authentic as well. Just S$3 which was less than half of what you would pay at a restaurant.
The experience was made even more authentic when a stern looking Vietnamese girl plopped herself beside us. She yelled something out to the owner and I imagined she probably said “the usual” as the waitresses seemed pretty familiar with her. She was probably in her twenties but she was so tiny and looked more like a teenager. She just had two fresh spring rolls and I couldn’t help but wonder if that was enough for her. I truly felt like I was in Vietnam for a moment. Even her frilly dress reminded me of the dresses worn when I was last in Ho Chi Minh city. That’s what I love about our city being such a melting pot of cultures. Life just gets more interesting with all these new flavours and cuisines. Variety really is the spice of life. Also it made me feel more assured that the food was authentic the same way I feel that Japanese food is authentic whenever the Ramen restaurant I’m at, is filled with as many Japanese as well as local patrons. If there are no Japanese patrons I can’t help but think the food must be not up to par. Whether it’s American, Japanese or Vietnamese, that to me is the best indicator of whether the food served is authentic or not.
Managed to photograph a few pages of the menu so that you can see what the prices are like.
I’m always excited when there are loads of condiments.
Other Vietnamese restaurants at Joo Chiat. Some of them open only for dinner and I am eager to try one where they serve baugettes. Need to explore these authentic looking restaurants at 149, 169 and 180 Joo Chiat Road.