As I was sitting, slurping down that bowl of Pho I blogged up at the weekend I noticed the restaurant on the opposite side of the road - Nam Phan. It's posh, very posh. I reviewed it for the June/July edition of Asia's classiest food & travel mag Destinasian Magazine. Here's what I had to say back then,
The swish suburban Euro-Zen of Nam Phan restaurant struts some serious cool in Ho Chi Minh City's District 1. Opened in February 2003, this two-story, 1920's French colonial villa has emerged after a three-month renovation to become the snazziest - and most expensive - Vietnamese eatery in town. Owned and designed by local entrepeneur Huong Khai - of KhaiSilk and Au Manoir fame - Nam Phan is awash in raw silks and silver laquerware, its walls hung with reproductions of Cham-era bas-reliefs. Subdued but attentive waiters are a welcome attraction in a city blighted by indifferent service; dressed in golden-brown silk tunics, they deliver cocktails with a flourish and a lotus flower. While classical Vietnamese dishes are the touchstone here, 30 year-old chef Tran Van Thanh takes measured liberties with tradition: his spring rolls (cha gio) are deep-fried parcels of seafood and chicken, forgoing the standard fillings of minced pork or crab meat; crispy-fried soft shell crabs (cua lot tam hat de) are dressed in a tempura-like batter and served alongside deep-fried slivers of chestnut in a lemon mayonnaise; and ducks' tongues (huoi vit rang muoi di) are marinated in a herb-laced oyster sauce before being stir-fried with diced chili, garlic, and spring onions and served atop a watercress garnish. Popular with the city's young and smart business set, Nam Phan's 120 seats require booking well in advance - which, for a city that venerates its food, is high praise indeed.
64 Le Thanh Ton Street