There are many pho-tastic Vietnamese shops sprouting out in Singapore, as though it is the next fad after Japanese ramen.
Few Vietnamese restaurants seem to be as dedicated as Moc Quan though, where baguettes for the banh mi are baked fresh daily, and owner Jeff Koh hand-carries fresh ingredients (about 100kg every 2 weeks) from Vietnam to Singapore.
Which is why they close for a day or two occasionally each month.
Correct me if I am wrong, many Vietnamese restaurants in Singapore are overly-commercialised losing its authenticity, while the authentic ones lack the comforting ambience. Moc Quan, somehow manages to strike a balance between the two.
‘Moc’ means simple, ‘Quan’ means restaurant, so Moc Quan just means simple restaurant.
Jeff designed Moc Quan to be a Vietnamese ‘Zi Char’ type of place, and therefore items such as Thit Kho ($7) – pork cooked with tangy spicy caramel sauce in claypot, Luoi Vit ($7) – duck tongue braised in garlic basil sauce and Dau Hu Chien Xa ($5) – deep fried tofu with garlic and lemon grass are available.
There was a weird slight pungent smell when the braised pork arrived, a tad oily, but put the meat into the mouth and you would forgive all of these. It actually reminded me of street food in Ho Chi Minh, like those served around Ben Thanh Market.
Their Mixed Beef Pho ($9.50) was superb, generous in vegetables, herbs, meat and meat balls, in a light yet tasty broth cooked with beef bones, brisket and spices. A tad oily with MSG though, but I am willing to overlook that.
The best item was indeed the Banh Mi. I had the Bo Bit Tet ($6.50) which came with marinated sliced beef and egg. The baguette was crisp on the outside, with a fluffy chewy texture, not too dry on the inside. Accordingly, the oven and flour used are brought in from Vietnam.
Jeff revealed his interesting background. He has a Vietnamese wife, lived there for 3 years and traded his dish washing and knife skills for recipes of street vendors as he believed that some of the best cooks are on the streets. Impressed with his dedication.
Friendly prices, thematic décor, amiable service and authentic tasting food, Moc Quan looks set to be my favourite new Vietnamese restaurant of 2014.
81 Clemenceau Avenue UE Square #01-23 Singapore 239917
Tel: +65 6736 0123
Opening Hours: 10:30am – 9:00pm Daily (Closed occasionally. Check Facebook for updates)