24 May 2012

Review: Lang Nuong Nam Bo

Review: Lang Nuong Nam Bo:
Just a short trip from the backpacker area of Pham Ngu Lao, extremely large Lang Nuong Nam Bo sits off the main road down a long, wide alley. Set in an area that is rarely visited by tourists, you may feel like you’re in a different city when you find the restaurant even though you’re only 10 minutes' away from the tourist hub.
So, this is where the party's at!
So, this is where the party's at.
Lang Nuong Nam Bo has hundreds of tables spanning its two floors, and it stays constantly full most nights. Being away from the tourist hotspots makes this a place to get a better experience of local, family-style dining. The restaurant caters more to groups and even though there are tables available for two, the majority of diners are large parties. You’ll find the restaurant has a great atmosphere, with people loudly conversing, laughing and constantly chanting the Vietnamese cheers of ‘mot, hai, ba, YO!’ It probably doesn’t hurt the overall happy vibe that each table has a crate of beer under the table ready to be consumed.
Sparkly lights are always a nice touch in my book.
Sparkly lights; always a nice touch.
Even though Lang Nuong Nam Bo seats hundreds of guests, it's still open-air; a roof will protect you from the elements but walls are harder to find. The lack of walls of course means no air-con, and though they have plenty of fans in an attempt to compensate there are spots where you may not get much airflow.
The pig points the way!
The pig points the way!
If you can brave the slightly hotter conditions, you are rewarded to a menu of more than 100 Central Vietnamese countryside dishes, including beef, rabbit and more unique dishes like hot vit lon, but what the restaurant is famous for is its roasted suckling pig -- you'll walk past the pig grill on the way into the restaurant. When you order a pig for the table it's delivered and cut into a bunch of easily shareable pieces. And it is worth the praise that it receives; the meat is tender and delicious with one suckling pig providing more than two kilograms of meat, which is enough for a group of six to eight to share. The pig also comes with a plate of dumplings, half that are steamed, and half that are fried.
Even though the the place can be packed with rambunctious diners constantly demanding refills, somehow Lang Nuong Nam Bo manages to staff accordingly; at times it seems like there are three waiters for every table. Maybe it was because they don’t get quite as many foreign guests, but they seemed extra happy to help me with my order and to keep my glass full of ice, even if I was only drinking bottled water.
As Lang Nuong Nam Bo is more of a family-style joint, prices of the dishes are made to split between groups. So while you might have a bit of sticker shock when you see the suckling pig’s 800,000 VND price tag, split between a group it’s much more manageable. If you can get a group of six to eight together, expect to pay around 200,000 to 250,000 VND a head for a meal here.
That's a lot of meat!
That's a lot of meat!
There’s no other place in Saigon as renowned for pig as Lang Nuong Nam Bo, so if you have an overwhelming desire for a whole pig this is your spot. If this seems a little too local, head across town to Cuc Gach Quan in District 3 for similar food in a more peaceful setting. If you want to go even more local, stay in Pham Ngu Lao and get some street food from Thai Binh market at the end of the road.
Lang Nuong Nam Bo

283-285/145 CMT8, District 10

T: (08) 3863 2309
Further reading: Suckling pig in Bali