Sherman's Food Adventures: Mui Ngo Gai

Mui Ngo Gai

Ever since the modernization of Anh & Chi, we have slowly begun to see the transformation of many other Vietnamese restaurants as well.  One of the more recent ones to change their formula is Mui Ngo Gai out on Kingsway.  They've been there forever dishing up traditional Vietnamese eats that are not normally found at the run-of-the-mill spots.  Now, they have gone higher end with ornate furnishings as well as an updated menu that includes a Singaporean section.

Without further delay, let's get straight to the crown jewel of our meal with the Singaporean specialty - Chili Crab. There are many versions of this dish, but this one has to be one of my favourites in town.  The Dungeness Crab was bathed in savoury sauce that was full of awesome umaminess.  Furthermore, there was a balanced spiciness that was also equal parts sweetness.  It had such depth-of-flavour, we needed some starch to go with it.  It included 4 pieces of roti, but really, it would've been best with plain rice.

Another interesting item we had was their version of Nasi Lemak.  In the middle, we found rice coloured with butterfly pea flower.  Then we had some sambal clams as well as sambal whole squid.  Sliced cucumbers and radish rounded out the plate.  This was so tasty due to the sweet and spicy sambal.  There was plenty to go around to flavour the buttery clams and firm squid.  It also helped make the rice super tasty.  Heck, even the veggies were extra delicious with the sambal.

On the topic of sambal, we also tried the Sambal Prawns and they were absolutely fantastic.  These butterflied prawns were huuuuge and fried perfectly, so that the shell was completely edible.  On top of that, the prawn itself was just cooked through being juicy with a meaty and sweet snap.  But the thing that really made this was again, the sambal.  It gave each prawn a savoury and sweet spiciness that was also briny.  So delish!

Onto some Vietnamese dishes, we went for something big in the Deep Fried Crispy Whole Fish in Tamarind Sauce.  This was indeed very crispy, especially the edges, fins and head.  It was like eat fish crisps.  The tamarind sauce was the perfect compliment to the fish as it provided a sweet tanginess.  For the actual meat, it was still moist near the middle body, but progressively got drier near the ends.  Understandable given the different thickness.

The fish was a good segue to an equally crispy item.  The Banh Xeo was a textural delight with an appetizingly uniform crispy exterior.  The crunch was so satisfying with each bite and also the aroma was addictive.  Inside, there was a good amount of pork, shrimp, squid and sprouts.  So much so, it was rather shocking to see.  When wrapped in lettuce and complimented by mint, pickled carrot & daikon and spicy fish sauce, this was a delicious bite.

Of course we had to get the veritable Pho Dac Biet, but this was served in a really small ornate bowl.  In terms of portion size, there was just as much as any bowl of Pho I've eaten recently, but since it was crammed into this bowl, there was barely any soup.  With the little soup I could scrounge, it was clean and meaty without being too intensely salty.  The meats were good and well-portioned and the noodles were al dente.  Maybe they need to use a larger bowl or offer extra soup on the side.

Another classic Vietnamese dish we had was the Bo Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew) served with a warm baguette on the side.  This was pretty solid with big tender chunks of beef shank.  This was a satisfying dish were the strewing juices were meaty and had the unmistakable taste of star anise, ginger and sweetness.  The baguette was crusty on the outside ans soft on the inside.  Great from sopping up all the flavour.

Some smaller items we had included the Crispy Fried Chicken Wings and Bánh Bột Lọc (Shrimp & Pork Tapioca Dumplings).  I found the wings to be crispy as advertised.  The meat was still fairly moist except for one of the smaller drumettes.  As for the dumplings, they were bouncy with seasoned pork and shrimp in the middle.  Pretty solid "regular" dishes off a revamped menu.  Overall, the food was excellent and the addition of Singaporean favourites provided the most flavour and impact.

*All food and beverages were complimentary for this blog post*

The Good:
- Those Singaporean dishes, especially the Chili Crab!
- Updated decor
- Still solid Vietnamese fare

The Bad:
- Increase in prices
- The Pho needs a bigger bowl


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