[Ho Chi Minh City] Not to sound dramatic, but Cuc Gach Quan was probably the most recommended Vietnamese cuisine restaurant to me from various friends.

It is seen as a bridge to the past, an attempt to transport guests to a bygone era.

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The location itself is split between two French villas, and the restaurant (designed by architect Tran Binh) is more of a Vietnamese home.

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Imagine a serene setting complete with fishponds in the heart of bustling District 1.

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Cuc Gach Quan is designed as a tribute to warm family meals, almost an oddity in today’s fast-paced modern world.

Through architecture and food, you can can reminded of the simple joys of Vietnamese dining.

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It was really almost like entering someone’s house.

Inside you would find pieces from Vietnamese history, and rooms adorned with kitschy, recycled décor to create a charming home.

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The menu came with like a thick brown-papered book of several pages, with loads of dishes, and no photos.

I would say first-timers who have yet to do any research would find themselves overwhelmed.

I wanted to ask some help from the staff, but not all were thoroughly helpful, and communication was also a challenge.

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Another unique feature is that menu is not really fixed. This means each visit you are up for a surprise.

Food is genuinely Vietnamese and captures family-style meals such as Thit Kho To (pork stewed in a clay pot) and Ga Kho Gung (chicken stewed with ginger).

They use a lot of veggies, making Vietnamese cuisine one of the healthiest ones out there. No sodium glutamate nor other chemical preservatives are welcome here.

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I had the signature dish of Softshell Crab with Rock Salt and Garlic (VND390,000), loved for its crispy exterior.

Inside is cradled a tender, well-seasoned crab – its natural sweetness was complemented with aromatic (or pungent – depends how you see it) garlic and salt. It was tasty all right, but I did expect more.

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The Fried Spring Rolls with Pork and Shrimp (VND150,000) would make a good appetizer or side.

Enjoy it hot and crispy on the outside, and juicy on the inside. You would find it quite meaty.

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Another dish you would want to catch is Fried Tofu with Lemongrass and Chili (VND130,000).

The interplay of soft tofu, herbal lemongrass, and spiciness equaled a dish with a zing.

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For meat lovers and those who love a saucy dish, the Stewed Pork with Eggs (VND160,000) was my favourite and should not disappoint.

This hearty, comforting dish comes with a finger-licking savoury sauce.

The tender cuts of pork alongside soft-boiled eggs gave a lot of oomph to umami flavours.

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Try this with Fried Rice with Seafood (VND150,000).

Did you know they even cook their rice dishes in cast iron pots on wood stoves?

Rice is essential in Vietnamese cuisine, so this adds to the authenticity and nostalgia.

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If you are after an immersive home-style experience, try Cuc Gach Quan Restaurant. However, do note that it is not the cheapest dining experience comparatively.

You are most likely to appreciate Vietnamese history and culture. Your soul, not just your belly, will be full.

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Cuc Gach Quan Restaurant
10 Đặng Tất, Phường Tân Định, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Opening Hours: 9am – 11:30pm (Mon – Sun)

Google Maps – Cuc Gach Quan Restaurant

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