viet nam garden restaurant

voted victoria's best vietnamese menu


524 admirals road esquimalt bc V9A2N4



Times Colonist


Thursday June 23 2005


Dining out Pam Grant


"Let's go see a movie" said Ming. "Maybe..." I said, remembering when movies cost $2 and you didn't have to endure some moton behind you answering his cellphone. " We could go for dinner first." she suggested.

Oh, all right then.

we met at the Vietnam Garden, with some trepidation on my part. As Ming raved anout the food, I had to confess that several years before I had been overcjarged foe the most mediocre Vietnamese food I have ever had. As it turns out, must has changed at the corner of Cook and Pandora, namely the ownership and cuisine.

Ken Jianqun Yu and Shelly Zhao took over in 2000 and filled the room with large tropical plants, creating a must more comfortable space in what was quite an austere room. The menu offers numberous traditional Vietnamese dishes, but Ken's specials reflect a varied career that began in the 1,000- seat Ban Xi restaurant in Guan Zhou, China, where he was immersed in the finer points of his native Cantonese cuisine and exposed to Sezchuang and continental specialties. Soon, he was determined to learn as much as he could about international cuisine, aiming one day to have his own restaurant. This path led to diverse locations including Nigeria, where he oversaw the Cantonese section of a luxury hotel Kitchen. Arriving in North American, he ran the pub and restaurant kitchens for two Whitehorse hotels simultaneously, while stints in San Francisco and San Diego honed his skills in Cantonese and Mandarin specialties.

It was during his time at Vancouver's Le Crocodile and Saigon restaurant that he developed a stronger interest in the cultural influences on pan Asian cooking and the use of unusual ingredients in the preparation of classic dishes. The result is a menu--some of it on a frequently changing chalk board-that truly showcases the chef's skills.

the place looked better and things smelled good, but I was still a little wary-until I had some soup. So many restaurantys treat this idsh as an afterthougght, but not here, Stock for spicy lemon grass beef noodle soup, with slices of rare brisket, vegetables and meatballs($9.50), is simmered for a minimum of nine hours. Ming and I enjoyed perfectly balanced hot and sour soup, loaded with prawns,rhubarb, tomato, fennel and diced pineapple among other surprising ingredients in a light but complex tamarind broth. Prawns can be replaced with chicken or tofu, as you prefer, and a huge bowl perfect for ssharing is $11.95 to $12.95.

The movie  wasn't due to start for more than an hour, so we ordered appetizers( acerage peice $6) devouring slices of sweet grilled Vietnamese ham, spring roll--rice paper filled with delicately seasoned pork and noodles fried until crispy yet not the slightest bit greasy--both delicious with the accompanying dip of vinegar, fish sause and shredded carrot. Cooling Vitenamese salad rolls with peanut sauce were larger than usual and filled with rice noodles, prawens, pork lettuce and shredded cabbage and made for a contrast in taste and tecture.

By this point, we had decided we could go to a movie some other time. It seemed like a reasonable time to take a break with an icy Chinese beer after endless little cups of tea.

We continued with what became a four-hour dinner. Vietmanese caramel dishes are a house speciality, done with your choice of fish, pork or chicken. We had the former, fried till crispy and tossed in an unctuous golden sauce with vivd green chunks of broccoli and snap green peas. Prawns tossed with scallops, sliced red peppers, snow peas and impossibly thin slices of frish mango were eaten alongside braised beef short ribs served with a fragtant bean sauce on a bed of asparagus.

"Oh, we have to have the duck," said my friend, and soon a platter of chopped duck pieces bathed in a piquant orange sauce fought for room alongside everything else.

Prices for these dished and other like basil prawns, spicy gailic eggplant and tofu, grilled lemon grass pork chops or seasonal dishes such as local lamb hot pot in coconut curry sauce and lobster tails in brandy crean sauce range between $9.95 and $14.95, with large  than usual portions. We took plenty of leftovers home that night.

Curries were undertaken on a subsequent visit, green pork curry with fresh herbs and chilies, a Thai inspired prawn curry with notes of fennel all with loads of fresh vegetables--all superb. Lunch specials begin at $7.50 and combination dinners including soup and spring rolls average $13 per person.

we finished up both evenings with strong Vietmanese coffee and desserts: coconut balls filled with sticky black saseme paste and Ming's favourite, fried bananas with caramel and ice cream one night, red bean cake in delicate pastry the next time.

Movie? What movie?   

vietnam  garden restaurant建店于1995年,历经三任业主,业绩平平。现任老板kenyu于2000年7月接手经营,通过大胆改良改革与创新,把这间无名的越南河粉米粉店打造成了知名东南亚风味店,从2000年7月至2007年7月,年年都获得victorianews颁发的最佳越南餐馆奖。2003年time colonist当时的美食评论家(餐厅常客)写下短评:#10牛肉粉是perfect noodle soup,致使餐馆经常卖断熟牛肉,2005年6月23日,又一位timecolonist 美食评论家整半版文章评论:亚洲餐馆之最——四星级饭店,2007年6月27日,time colonist的商业专栏作家报道了餐馆的光荣结业;2008年11月5号,餐馆换地址新装修刚开张半年,time colonist又再次进行了报道和评论。