In the west London vanguard of low-cost Vietnamese cafés, this Chiswick operator knows its noodles.
The latest alcohol-free café to add to to west London's small but growing number of Vietnamese restaurants, Ngon – which means ‘delicious’ in Vietnamese, and is pronounced a little like ‘non’ or ‘nahn’– lives up to its name.
A starter of lotus root salad introduced the country's cuisine well – mixed fresh herbs and lotus root strips were topped with tender slices of pork and prawns, which soaked up the tangy fish sauce and lime dressing. Vietnamese staples such as banh mi, noodle soups and rice dishes make up the rest of the affordable menu.
The house special rice set with fragrant grilled pork and delicately flavoured crab and pork egg terrine – paired with a pickled veg and fish sauce dip – proved to be an excellent marriage of flavour and texture.
While noodle portions for the pho (beef noodle soup) and bun hue (spicy noodle soup) were generous and nicely al dente, they could have benefited from a couple of extra slices of meat in their aromatic broths. Likewise for the Vietnamese baguette-like bahn mi.
The drink selection mirrors Ngon's clientele, who span all ages and tastes – fun bubble tea and interesting brews such as artichoke tea, and, of course, Vietnamese drip coffee.
The front dining area is furnished with functional low tables and rattan stools, offering a more traditional, casual Vietnamese dining experience. Perching precariously on a tiny seat with a steaming bowl of pho in between your legs might not be enjoyable for everyone. Tears and embarrassment can be avoided by moving to the hidden, regular tabled seating at the back of the restaurant. Service was attentive, friendly and genuinely warm on our two visits.