Sunday, March 21, 2010

94 -the real one- (Saigon, Vietnam)

Last year, when we went to Saigon, we read that there was a very famous restaurant called '94' (the number of their address) and all they served was 'crab'. Deep fried soft shelled crab, cha gio stuffed with crab, soup with crab, fried noodles with crab, etc., etc. So of course we had to go.

The only thing we did know at that time was that there were two '94' restaurants on the same street and next to each other. We had no clue which one to go to. So, we ate at one of them and we had great food and good memories of that place.

So; here is the story of why there are two crab restaurants called '94' on the same street next to one another. The first '94' crab restaurant opened and it was a huge success for many years. But, then they moved to their new address at #84. The original #94 was available and so some very clever Vietnamese took over the original address and opened a crab restaurant, can you guess what they called it? Indeed, '94' crab restaurant. They just copied everything from the design, decor and menu. They took advantage that most people only knew the location of the original '94' crab restaurant. Only in Vietnam!

So, this time in Saigon, we did some homework to know which is the real & which is the fake '94' crab restaurant. We took our friends along so that we could have a fair census on which is the best crab restaurant on the street. We planned it well; we all had a very small breakfast and we planned to eat at both '94' restaurants to compare the 'deliciousness' factor of each restaurant.

We started with the 'real' 94 crab restaurant which is actually in #84. We did not want to order too much because we had to try the 'fake' 94 crab restaurant as well. So, we ordered the house special; the very famous fried glass noodles with crab.

The decor is very basic with aluminum tables and plastic chairs. What was very strange and funny at the same time is that the only table available for us was at the end of the long restaurant, and there was the restaurant owner sleeping on a lounge chair. It was very strange to be eating next to the sleeping person in a lounge chair.

The famous Vietnamese crabs, all alive staring at you and knowing their horrible fate.

More of the live crabs.

The open kitchen. Everything is cooked in front of the customers. Here the cook is making the famous noodle crab dish. These restaurant are more busy with take out. There are always people with motorbikes waiting for their orders to take home.

The famous noodle crab dish. Basic, simple but so good. Glass noodles with large & fresh crab pieces and topped off with crab eggs. The dish was not very oily (which is a good thing), good portion to share for four person.

The second dish was deep fried soft shelled crab. Deep fried to a golden brown. It had a soft crunch with the first bite, then you bite into the soft texture of the crab. Very nice with a dash of nuoc mam.

The entrance of the restaurant. We payed bill which was amazingly cheap for such good food. Now we were ready to try the 'fake' 94 crab restaurant.

84 Dien Tien Hoang, District 1, Saigon

1 comment:

DirtyPierre said...

I know the story about the two 94s as my partner is a chef and a friend of the original owner. I have tried both places and sad to say but the fake one is better and I only eat there nowadays. Having said that they are both good value eating places by western seafood standards.