Co Ngu takes rice seriously
What we say:
Rice is a Vietnamese staple but many restaurants in HCMC don’t really give it the attention it deserves, serving tired rice dishes seemingly as an afterthought. Although many carts on the street sell rice dishes, and some cheap Vietnamese restaurants focus on a single rice dish, it can be hard to find a restaurant that serves a variety of quality dishes. One restaurant that takes rice seriously is Co Ngu on Pasteur.
On the edge of District 3 and District 1, Co Ngu’s small, arched entrance is easy to miss so keep an eye out for the sign. Unlike many restaurants in the area, this particular eatery isn’t crammed into a tight space. Instead, they have plenty of room inside for outdoor dining and greenery. The trees do provide ample shade, which keeps the outside dining area cool and blocks out some of the distractions whizzing by outside.
Inside the restaurant, you’ll find a French colonial-inspired setting, as the building itself is a remnant of the past occupation. Decoration is simple, dark wooden tables and chairs with white tablecloths and a few pictures scattered about that spread a sort of old-world charm throughout the air-con building’s few storeys and several rooms open for seating.
Co Ngu specialises in rice dishes, and the menu is thick with choices of things to eat with that rice. You’ll find most of the menu dedicated to a variety of meats, however a number of vegetarian options are offered as well. Generally when you order, you’ll be given a large plate of rice, with some vegetables on the side, then you’ll be served your order simmering in a clay pot. The tuna, cooked in a clay pot with pineapple, was particularly tasty, tender and juicy, as was the fried rice with shredded pork served in a halved pineapple. Prices are extremely reasonable, with most plates starting around the 50,000 VND mark. During lunch you can choose one of three dishes off their set menu for just 45,000 VND.
Co Ngu draws a steady crowd but since the restaurant has ample seating, you should be able to grab a spot, even during regular meal rushes. If however you don’t find yourself in the mood for a Vietnamese rice dish, you’re within easy striking distance to a number of other restaurants, including, a five-minute drive down the road, Nha Hang Ngon, another inexpensive Vietnamese restaurant in a French villa, where you’ll find a broader selection of foods but no air-con. You’re also only a couple blocks away from Nam Son Beefsteak, a restaurant with less in the way of decor serving low-costs sizzling steaks.
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