Vietnamese fare to enjoy in PJ food hub

Song Ngu is visually arresting, offering a feast for both the eyes and the palate. – The Malaysian Insight pic, June 15, 2024.

YOU would go to Song Ngu for more than just Vietnamese cuisine. The restaurant in PJ’s latest New Ocean World Fine Food City is a feast for the eyes as well as the palate.

Walking past the colourful walls and table settings, you stop short at a giant mural of a Vietnamese girl in her ao dai and hat.

The kitchen is helmed by a full Vietnamese crew, so we were all set for Vietnamese dishes from Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, and Hoi An.

We began with delicate Hue steamed rice cakes, topped with crushed dried shrimps and chopped spring onions, served with a light dipping sauce with chilli, garlic, and fish sauce. These thin, moist rice cakes make delicate savoury bites. The peanut dipping sauce stood out for the Vietnamese fresh spring rolls of shrimps, vermicelli, and vegetables. Crunchy peanuts and fried shallots topped this thick sauce which complemented the spring rolls.

I enjoyed the Vietnamese crepe pancake, or banh xeo tom, which was crispy and light, tinged yellow from turmeric in the batter, and filled with mung beans, onions, and spring onion. It came with fresh basil, mint, and lettuce, which we could have used to make a wrap.

Mango salad. – The Malaysian Insight pic, June 15, 2024.

The mango salad with shrimps had balanced flavours of sweet and sour from a subtle fish-sauce-based dressing and was topped with peanuts. It was served with shrimp crackers.

We shared the beef pho with beef balls, rare beef, and brisket, with fresh basil, sawtooth coriander, and beansprouts. The stock for the pho was flavourful and light, and I liked the chilli sauce with a dab of Vietnamese oyster sauce as a dip for the meat and beef balls. It’s a Ho Chi Minh-style beef pho.

Beef pho and condiments. – The Malaysian Insight pic, June 15, 2024.

Shaking beef, or bo luc lac, is cubed steak in a soy sauce marinade, tossed in a wok for even searing, together with onions, garlic, and peppers. “Luc Lac” means “to shake” in Vietnamese, which in this case means shaking the wok. It was served with rice, soy dipping sauce with chilli, and fresh vegetables. The meat was juicy, tender, and flavourful, and I rather liked the sweet potato slices with it.

Shaking beef rice. – The Malaysian Insight pic, June 15, 2024.

It was the first time I had Vietnamese duck curry, served with slices of freshly baked baguette. It was a creamy turmeric curry tinged with sweetness from pumpkin and was delightful with the crusty baguette.

Next we had the Hoi An chicken rice. It’s broken rice cooked with turmeric, accompanied by chicken slices combined with herbs and carrot strips. A spicy chilli oil dip goes with it.

Hoi An chicken rice. – The Malaysian Insight pic, June 15, 2024.

The dishes are reasonably priced. It is RM21 for the Hoi An chicken rice; RM25 for the shaking beef rice and beef pho; RM12.30 for the crepe pancake; and RM13.50 for the steamed rice cake.

Song Ngu is pork-free, as are all the restaurants in New Ocean World.

New Ocean World Fine Food City is the latest gastronomic landmark in Petaling Jaya, with 22 restaurants on seven floors, a pillarless grand ballroom that can accommodate 3,000 people, and a rooftop cigar library with a 360-degree view of the city.

The restaurants offer Greek, Mongolian, Thai, Chinese, Shunde, Japanese, and vegetarian cuisines.

Song Ngu is at level 3, New Ocean World, 15 Jalan 19/1, Seksyen 19, Petaling Jaya. The numbers to call are 03-8408 8027 and 012-988 2376. – June 15, 2024.

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