OPEN: Daily 11:00am — 2:00am
PAYMENT: Cash Only
SEATING: Indoor/Non-Smoking, Outdoor/Smoking
MENU: See Attached PDF, prices and menu as of Nov. 12, 2013
LOCATION: See Map Below
View Viet Garden Restaurant in a larger map
New Vietnamese Restaurants Continue to Open in Angeles
It seems like only yesterday that the only way to sample authentic Vietnamese style foods in Angeles City was to book a flight direct to Vietnam. This, like most things in South East Asia, has changed dramatically and rapidly since our review of Pho Hanoi on September 25, 2013.
There have been three additional Vietnamese restaurants that have opened in Angeles City in just a couple of months. It seems Vietnamese cuisine is quickly catching on and adding its unique taste sensation to the diverse culinary city which was lacking in these types of food establishments previously. One of them is Viet Garden.
Quaint and Cozy Cafe with a Diverse Menu
Viet Garden is a small cafe that recently opened in the new stalls along M.A. Roxas HWY near an area locally referred to as Checkpoint. The venue is small but nicely and simply decorated and branded. Wood carved chairs and plates are emblazoned with logos. There is outdoor seating for smokers and plenty of seats inside. Parking is not an issue as this newly built complex has plenty of spaces available.
The cafe has a unexpectedly large and diverse menu for the size of the restaurant providing you ample opportunity to grab a light snack if you’re new to the cuisine or a full meal for those familiar with this type of food. Some interesting items on the menu include:
- Goi Da Ca (Viet salad with stingray skin)
- Ca Kho (catfish simmered in Viet sauce)
- Cua-Um (crab cooked Viet style)
- Banh Xeo (Vietnamese crepe)
The menu also includes more familiar favorites like:
- Goi Cuon (fresh spring rolls)
- Cha Gio (fried spring rolls)
- Banh Mi (sandwich)
- Pho Bo (beef noodle soup)
A few items were marked “Unavailable” on my visit, but there were plenty of items to choose from on the menu.
Vietnamese Cuisine for a Small Snack or Full Meal
My visit to Viet Garden was a bit too early for lunch and all I really wanted was a small snack to share with my girlfriend. Stopping by Viet Garden was an ideal choice as I knew I could grab something quick, light and fairly inexpensive.
Our order was Cha Gio (friend spring rolls) and two Banh Mi sandwiches. Typically I prefer to order several items on a first time visit in order to get a real feel for the food at an establishment, but due to the timing I really only wanted a small snack.
In cases like this I have a small checklist of criteria and find it best to order the common foolproof items that should be prepared perfectly and still gives me a good idea about the taste and quality of the foods. My checklist in cases like this is:
- Visual authenticity — Does it look like the pictures in the menu or what it should look like?
- Taste and texture authenticity — Does it taste authentic? Are the textures right?
- Pricing — Are the items prices fairly for what is served?
- Overall satisfaction — Am I satisfied overall with everything about the items?
First up were the Cha Gio (fried spring rolls). Six plump, golden brown, ground pork and vegetable filled rolls served with a sweet and sour sauce, cucumber sticks, basil leaves and lettuce.
It’s almost impossible to mess up fried spring rolls. The rolls were filled adequately with a seasoned pork and vegetable medley. They were crisp on the outside and steaming hot on the inside. I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed with a fried spring roll and that streak still stands. These were delicious.
The raw vegetables on the side gave me an opportunity to be slightly inventive. I put a spring roll on a piece of lettuce, added some of the cucumber sticks, basil leaves and then dunked them in the sauce. Now I was eating “healthy” fried spring rolls.
I like the presentation, the tastes and textures were right and at 145 pesos (approximately $3.37) for 6 pieces seemed very fair. All boxes on my checklist were covered and this dish was a great snack by itself. Fortunately my girlfriend was with me so I was able to sample one more item.
The Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich has many variations but some standards do exist. First, it should be served on a light and airy french style baguette which may be slightly sweet or not. Second, it should have some sort of Vietnamese sauce in lieu of mayonnaise or mustard. Typically the sauce will be a fish, siracha, hoisin, a sweet vinegary sauce or any combination of these. Third, the filling will be a seasoned, grilled chicken or pork. Fourth, it will be topped with various fresh herbs and vegetables which can vary greatly. Sometimes additional sauces will be served on the side.
Viet Garden’s Banh Mi is served with seasoned, grilled chicken. The sandwich was of decent size (particularly for the price) and the bread was crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. It appeared to be freshly baked. There was a decent amount of filling and it had a similar sweet and vinegary sauce to what was served with the spring rolls. The sandwich was topped with cucumber spears, shredded daikon radish, carrots and fresh cilantro.
At 75 pesos (approximately $1.74) this sandwich is a steal. Something similar at a Subway sandwich shop would run you $4.00 to $5.00. The Banh Mi is a light and flavorful sandwich due to the use of various array of herbs and vegetables on the crusty flakey bread. It’s a completely unique style and flavor that is truly Vietnamese at its heart. There are a lot of complaints that there’s no where in Angeles City to get a decent submarine sandwich but this is no longer true with the addition of Vietnamese restaurants.
Overall my total bill for 2 Banh Mi sandwiches, 1 order of fried spring rolls, 2 ice teas and tip came to 385 peso (approximately $8.95). I thought this was a tremendous value for the money and a fantastic snack that left me fully satisfied.
I look forward to visiting Viet Garden again soon to try some of their other items. If they’re as good as the two staples I sampled on my first visit I’m sure I won’t be disappointed with the rest of the menu. It will be interesting to see how many more Vietnamese restaurants open up in Angeles City and how the competition determines who will reign supreme in this cuisine.