A no nonsense stop
157 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
T: (08) 3930 3917
Nam Son Beefsteak, which has two locations in downtown Saigon within short walking distance of the Reunification Palace, is a great no-frills Vietnamese beefsteak restaurant. If you can get past the barebones setting, and the limited menu, you’ll find some of the best steaks in Saigon.
Both locations are surprisingly close to each other; recently moving to the other side the street from its long-time location on Nam Ky Khoi Nghia (that spot is now a Japanese restaurant), the District 3 Nam Son is now a little harder to find, a new smaller sign marking the entrance to the short alley they now call home.
As the newer of the two restaurants, it is by far the cleaner; its walls not yet facing the ravaging stains that accompanies years of meat grilling. The trade-off is that the restaurant is very basic and the seating area of dark, wooden tables is fan-cooled only, with no walls protecting diners from the outside environment.
In contrast, the District 1 location has some indoor, air-con seating. Still, things remain cool in District 3, as the open restaurant is covered from the sun by a roof, and as long as you’re not rubbing your meat on the walls in District 1, the years of wear and tear shouldn’t be much of a bother.
Whichever location you choose, you likely won’t be coming to Nam Son Beefsteak for the setting; you’ll come for the beefsteak. Nam Son knows what they do well; their menu won’t confuse you with an endless list of options. Instead, you’ll only have a handful of choices, most of which revolve around the kind of beefsteak you want. The more common, and cheaper, picks are the plain beefsteak, beefsteak with fried egg and the beefsteak special, consisting of an additional sprinkling of sausage, meatballs and pate.
For a little extra you can also get imported American or Canadian beef, as well as a slab of ostrich. Your meal is brought to your table sizzling on a cow shaped skillet with a variety of extras, like baguettes, French fries, lettuce and tomato, provided at a nominal charge. The cuts of meat are thin but tender — thankfully since you have to cut them with butter knives — and large by Vietnamese standards. Dishes are shockingly cheap: a basic beefsteak is 55,000 VND and imported meats don’t get above 100,000 VND.
With its great tasting meats and low prices, Nam Son is consistently packed with locals — a good sign for any Saigon restaurant. I’ve never seen either location empty, but I’ve never had to wait for a table, as turn around time is relatively quick.
Still, if things get too crowded, or you’re looking for more grilled meat options, you’re only a short drive from Barbecue Garden where you still can watch your meat get cooked but you’ll pay a higher price. If you’d rather have fish you’re also not far from Cha Ca La Vong, the Saigon home of the legendary Hanoi restaurant of the same name. If you’d rather get off the street and enjoy a little luxury you could head to Bobby Chinn’s, where you can get a good cut of meat for a much higher price.
By Max Murta
Last updated on 6th July, 2014.