Not your average Vietnamese fare
21 Han Thuyen (next to 30-4 park), District 1, Ho Chi Minh CityÂ
T: (08) 3822 9048
While we are huge fans of sitting on blue plastic chairs and grabbing a delicious meal on the cheap, every once in a while we like our settings a bit more upmarket. The chic and modern Propaganda takes a spin on Vietnamese classics in a setting that would make Uncle Ho proud and offers an inventive menu with top-notch ingredients.
The ground floor is dominated by a hand-painted mural reminiscent of 60?s-era propaganda art, with couches lining the walls upholstered in a similar vein. But while the walls and couches are rooted in the past, the rest of the restaurant is clearly set in the present, having a modern fee with bright red metal chairs and minimalist place settings. Lunches can be very busy as the location is popular with local office workers and expatriates alike; a few tables are available for alfresco dining but show up early as these seats are usually taken first.
The menu is filled with subtly twisted Vietnamese staples and is priced mid-range, with appetisers running 50,000-100,000 VND and mains from 90,000-200,000 VND. It might seem pricey but the quality of the food is well worth the prices. It’s also one of the only places in town that serves Beer Huda (40,000 VND/bottle), a fantastic lager brewed in Hue. As a bonus, roasted peanuts are served before the meal.
Propaganda’s reputation of serving some of the best spring rolls in Ho Chi Minh City is well deserved. Each of the seven preparations are served in 10 bite-sized pieces and come with a dipping sauce on the side. We ordered the tofu rolls (66,000 VND) which were chock full of house-made tofu, rice noodles, cucumber and lettuce. The soy dipping sauce was tangy and quite spicy. If you don’t care for the heat, ask your server for no chillies.
Along with spring rolls, there are rice and noodle dishes aplenty on the menu. We ordered the barbecued honey pork chop served with pandan leaf broken rice (125,000 VND) and the vegetarian Propaganda noodles (100,000 VND). While the pork had the addictive fish sauce-based marinade found in com tam joints around town, adding a honey glaze pushed the flavour intensity to 11. The bowl of noodles had rice noodles, tofu, peanuts, assorted greens and puffed brown rice and came with the same soy dipping sauce as the tofu spring rolls. The inclusion of puffed brown rice made for an earthy flavour not usually found in Vietnamese cuisine and made me think whoever designed the menu really put some thought into it. For vegetarians, most proteins can be substituted for the tofu.
While we haven’t tried them, the salads sound delectable — we might try the brown rice salad with quail eggs and roasted tomatoes (82,500 VND) or the edamame black rice salad with dried baby tomatoes (120,000 VND) on our next visit.
While other restaurants in the area such as Nha Hang Ngon and Cuch Gach Quan offer Vietnamese cuisine at comparable prices, Propaganda is definitely worth a visit for its modern take on Vietnamese cuisine.
By Vinh Dao
Last updated on 10th July, 2015.