Saturday, January 20, 2007

Song Trang Vietnamese Restaurant


This place (60B Orchard Road #01-16, The Atrium@Orchard, 6837-2040) was mentioned not once, not twice, but on three separate occasions in the past, so I popped on down here tonight to check it out. Even though my primary litmus test was going to be the ubiquitous bowl of pho, this place clearly went far beyond that with a very extensive range of dishes. Wanting to try some of of those other items too, I was rather pleased to find a deal that featured five courses, anchored by a bowl of pho at the end of it. The choice was obvious.

Some kind of shrimp rollsI liked it all. Everything they brought out was fresh and bursting with flavor, be it their signature fish salad (almost Thai-like), the piping hot shrimp rolls, or the barbequed meat complete with loads of rice paper and veggies for you to roll your own. And perhaps more surprisingly, there was so much food here already that I had a bit of trouble clearing the fourth dish, no matter how much I loved the fact that they were deep fried pig feet with oh-so-crispy and tasty skin (wait...didn't I just eat pig skin today??). I felt a bit bad that I couldn't even finish the broth in the pho when it finally came in the end.

Sure, there were a few things that I could pick on (such as the fish salad being a tad on the sweet side), but by and large, this did impress me. Now, if my goal were just a bowl of pho on its own, then I'd probably prefer the larger bowls over at Viet Inn. But I do agree that this is one of the better Vietnamese places in town, and with that set coming it at only S$35 or US$22 (complete with a glass of wine, mind you), it won't take any teeth pulling for me to come back here. I've just gotta remember to clear my stomach first (and not eat double portions for lunch like I did today) if I'm going to order that set again. Thanks for the recommendation(s)...thumbs up from me!


a l said...

I think Song Trang used to be Mai's Vietnamese restaurant, which had the best viet food in Sg (they used to have a smaller space at Marina Leisureplex). Song Trang still carries some of Mai's signature dishes (the bun thit nuong is to die for. so is the yam drink.)

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Apocalypta said...

Song Trang took over Mai Vietnamese Restaurant. Mai was more traditional, "homestyle" Vietnamese food. It just doesn't taste the same at Song Trang :( My favourite is the Saigon Pancake, which comes in "mini" or a whole version. Try the latter -- it is very good. It's also meant to be shared, but I prefer to eat one as a main course. Yum.

Pamela said...

I really like your blog. Honest and passionate about food.

I was wondering if you thought about putting in a search box to help readers look for specific cuisines, destinations or restaurants.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, and they've increased the prices since their Mai days too, damn it, with no discernible difference in the portion sizes, just nicer furniture.

Little fish said...

the bun bo hue in Song Trang is much closer to those sold in Hue.

besides the thicker rice vermicelli, there is the slight spiciness in the pork and beef broth that comes from the chilli oil.

Anonymous said...

My wife and I have been missing Ms. Ha Mai, who is the best Vietnamese cook in Singapore. Where are you?

nev said...

Blogger ate my comment! Argh! Now I have to re-type :(

I lived in Australia for a while so I was spoiled by fantastic Vietnamese food (huge Vietnamese community in Oz), so when I came to Singapore I was really disappointed by the Viet food offering here. About a year ago an Aussie friend told me to try the Viet places on Joo Chiat Road, which are as authentic and as good as you can get outside of Vietnam. Having been disappointed so many times before, I went with very low expectations. As you can guess, I was pleasantly surprised by the sheer number of Vietnamese restaurants in the area.

The first one I tried was the one that my friend suggested, a tiny stall in a coffee shop, on the corner of Joo Chiat Rd and... . IT is about 100m into Joo Chiat Rd, on your right, if you're coming from Geylang Road. The owner only speaks Vietnamese, but as long as you know how to pronounce "pho" correctly you'll be rewarded with a fantastic bowl of the stuff. It is acoompanied (of course) by a generous plate of basil leaves, lime, and sprouts. The chili sauce that comes with it was not as spicy as I would have liked, and they didn't serve any bean sauce. Fresh rice rolls are also available on display so you can use sign language to order. Sometimes they have fresh French loaf, slathered in pate, that comes with that week's "shipment" of Vietnamese girls that work the area. Fab stuff.

Further down the road, there are two Viet restaurants frequented by an almost exclusively Vietnamese clientele. The one I frequent is near an empty lot (#159 if I think), and I find the pho broth here a lot tastier and comes with the bean sauce, and they have a lot more stuff on the menu (with pictures!!). The guy who serves us only speaks Vietnamese, but when the owners (Singaporeans I think) are in we can usually order with ease. Try the sticky-garlicky chicken, it's fantastic but gives you horrible dragon breath. The fresh rice rolls are great too.

A few doors away, there's another Viet restaurant that features Viet steamboat. Very nice. The menu has a different selection from their neighbor so I usually flip coins before choosing between the two.

I'd highly recommend these places.