Long Phung Vietnamese Restaurant

Official Website: Not that we know of, but the menu can be found here. (Updated on 1 May 2013: Facebook)
Address: 159 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427436
Tel: +65 6344 2005
Opening Hours: 1pm – 12am daily (UPDATE*: wef 1 Sep 2012, Long Phung operates till 12am, instead of 2am)
Budget:  $8-$15 per person; we spent $54.50 for 4 people.
Recommendation: Everything is nice here, but they are famous for their Pho (rice noodles)

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Once again, we tasted something so heavenly that we probably wouldn’t want to try other Vietnamese restaurants again. London Girl (LG), the food-porn surfer, struck again and recommended this place because many fellow bloggers have posted positive reviews.

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Exterior View along Joo Chiat Road

Long Phung is a quintessential Vietnamese restaurant nestled in the bustling streets of Joo Chiat Road, otherwise known as a “little piece of Saigon”, as various Vietnamese restaurants line both sides of the street. Joo Chiat used to be infamous for its street walkers and convenience hotels, and they can still be found occasionally. That, however, did not deter amateur foodies like us as Long Phung has been voted the best Vietnamese restaurant by the Vietnamese community and locals. It is also the best Vietnamese restaurant in Singapore which London Girl and I have tried (although we have only tried Madam Saigon and another restaurant near Amoy Street.)

The restaurant is established by Ms Chi Lan, a lady who hails from Ho Chi Minh city but moved to Singapore about 14 years ago.  Long Phung is famous for its reasonably-priced and delicious food, efficient service (with no GST or service charge though), and warm ambience, making one feel like he or she is dining along the busy streets of Vietnam.

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Long queues forming outside the restaurant

We would advise you to come for late lunch or early dinner, as the waiting time can be considerable in light of the long queues that form outside the restaurant (look carefully in the picture). The tables in the restaurant are rather packed and always filled with hungry eaters. However, we did not feel cramped or hot – instead, we could feel a tinge of warmth and sincerity from the authentic home-cooked style food.

Food

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Young coconut juice ($3.50)

The dừa Thái Lan or coconut Thailand ($3.50) was imported from Thailand and tasted exactly like the coconut juice which LG and I had in Krabi a few years back. Really refreshing and contained a bountiful of coconut flesh.

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Gỏi cuốn or Prawn Roll (4 for $6)

The Gỏi cuốn or Prawn Roll (4 for $6) came with sweet peanut sauce and looked both aesthetically pleasing and appetising. The fresh prawns were succulent and the translucent rice paper rolls stayed intact together despite the generous servings of mint leaves and rice noodles. Worth mentioning was the lightning fast service, because the gỏi cuốn arrived immediately after the young coconut was served.

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 Gỏi cuốn Yummy yummy

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Sea Snails ($6)

The ốc Nhảy or Sea Snails ($6) came with a sour salt dip, unlike the usual chili sauce served in hawker centres. It was my first time trying whelks and you can pull these little beings from its tail or using the sticks. Perhaps not so soft and creamy as escargot, but fresh, succulent and chewy straight from the kitchen.

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Phở Ga or Chicken Noodle Soup ($5.50)

The Phở Ga or Chicken Noodle Soup ($5.50) is perhaps the highlight of the show. Touted as the “best pho in Singapore”, the broth was clear, seasoned and sweet, better than any soup which I have had in Thailand (including Chiangmai and Krabi) or any other Vietnamese restaurants in Singapore. It was very addictive as well. The rice noodles were soft and chewy – I slurped them down my throat heartily and readily refilled my small bowl for more. Definitely a must-try if you’re here with limited gastronomical space.

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 Canh Chua Cá or Sour Fish Soup

The Canh Chua Cá or Sour Fish Soup has been said to be the Vietnamese equivalent of the tom yum soup. However, it was not as overpowering as the usual red hot spicy Thai tom yum soup, and instead it was clear and pleasing. It was sufficiently sour and whetted up our appetite on the first sip. The cat fish slices were soft and moist, which melted in our mouths readily. The soup was broiled in tamarind stock and cooked with lady’s finger, bean sprouts and tomatoes, which made the soup a healthy choice suitable for health Nazis like LG. This is perhaps the reason why Vietnamese food is touted as healthy and comfort food for many health-oholics.

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Stir-Fried Water Spinach

The Stir-Fried Water Spinach tasted very much like the usual sambal kang kong we have at the usual tze-char stall, but was sufficiently cooked over high flame and exudes an aromatic fragrance. It was not over-cooked (like how high flame kills vegetables) and contained onion bits. We finished it in no time too.

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Gỏi xoài or Green Mango Salad ($6-$12)

The Gỏi xoài or Green Mango Salad ($6-$12) came with thinly-sliced pork belly, succulent cold prawns and crunchy onion bits. I have never been a fan or mango or papaya salad, but this dish was nicely executed and left me lingering for more. Ironically, this appetiser was served last, but we had nothing to complain about as we were too engrossed with photo taking and enjoying the other tasty dishes in sight.

Service

Service was fast and furious – the friendly staff were very attentive and made the effort to check that all our dishes were served, although the restaurant was filled with other gourmet eaters. In terms of speed, we were scrambling to take photos because the dishes were served so efficiently that the table was filled with sumptuous food in no time.

Verdict

In terms of the price, service and food quality, LG’s parents and us unanimously agreed that this meal was in fact more satisfying than the one we had at Onaka during Restaurant Week. Little effort had been spent in describing the dishes because they were simply indescribable and perhaps the best way to savour them is to experience these dishes yourself. LG has indeed pampered us with the best Vietnamese food in Singapore, and we are more than happy to visit Long Phung again.

Rating: 4.33 / 5 Pho 

Postscript (13/6/2013)

When the night draws near, the colourful night entertainment scene of Joo Chiat beckons. That however, did not deter SG Boy from bringing his kakis there for a quick supper:

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Cha Gio (Fried Vietnamese Spring Rolls (Pork)) ($6/4 rolls; $9/6 rolls)

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Seafood Fried Rice ($6)

Including the Beef Brisket Pho, all. were. mind. blowing. :)

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