CAN something tongue-twisting be so blissful to your taste buds?

Don’t let foreign-sounding entries in a menu discourage you. Go for it. Be adventurous. You would be in for a delicious surprise.

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There’s a restaurant, Saigon Quan, located in Parkmall, that says it has authentic Vietnamese cuisine. Its owner, Roly Rivera, is married to a Vietnamese, Linh Nguyen, who says Quan is Vietnamese for restaurant.

True enough, the flavor of Vietnam is here, and almost all the names in the menu are in Vietnamese, with loose English translations or explanations so there’s no mystery to the kind of food one is getting.

Vietnamese cooking is not spicy but it is very flavorful. It uses ginger, lemon grass, small chili peppers, white and red onions, spring onions and Vietnamese fish sauce that gives the dishes a distinctive flavor.

Vietnam, Rolly says, is famous for its rice noodle soup and his restaurant offers three kinds: with beef (pho bo), with chicken (pho ga) and with seafood (hu tieu hai san).

It also has three kinds of spring rolls: cha gio (fried with shrimps and pork), cha gio hai san (fried, with seafood) and goi cuon (fresh, with shrimps and pork).

We tried the lau thap cam shabu-shabu. It was a hearty “mixed hot pot” with seafood (fish fillet, shrimps, squid, fish balls) with white mushrooms, pechay and carrots, which one puts in boiling, clear soup. This was absolutely delicious, as were the other dishes we tried. We had com trai thom (rice with shrimp, pork, and chopped pineapple served in a “bowl” made of the hollowed-out fruit), dau hu trung cha bong (egg tofu with dried pork), banh uot thit xao (Saigon Quan special salad with noodles and fried pork) and cakho to (Vietnamese river fish in hot pot).

To go with all that, the restaurant offers its special ice tea, which is tea blended with orange, mango, pineapple and calamansi juices with honey-lemon vanilla flavor.

For dessert, there was heavenly buko with “seaweeds” (that is, with buko-flavored gelatin, topped with coconut milk). And yes, if you’re looking for Vietnamese coffee served in its own pot, you can find it here, hot or iced.

The restaurant makes its own rice and egg noodles. It has three Vietnamese chefs (Tran, Huu Nhia; Nguyen, Van Ngoon; Le, Hoand Giang) to ensure that the cuisine remains authentic Vietnamese.

For those curious about the Vietnamese flavors and taste, the good news is that it is offering a Saturday night dinner buffet, with some 22 Vietnamese dishes to try. Bon appetit!