Tag Archives: Vietnam

Nyam Abroad: Pizza 4P

The entrance for Pizza 4P

The entrance for Pizza 4P

When I go to Vietnam, I tend to eat a lot of Vietnamese food. So much that sometimes, my wife has to call a stop to it and force me to eat something that doesn’t involve a noodle, grain of rice or fish sauce. When this happens, I usually complain, pout, and kick about. Basically, I turn into a 3 year old.

It was one of these times again last week where she put her foot down and told me to find a non-Vietnamese place for us to try out. So I opened the excellent Word magazine and unenthusiastically started down the list of international restaurants until I saw a listing that piqued my interest.

Italian tradition meets Japanese ingenuity

Nuff said.

Pizza 4P interior

Pizza 4P interior

It took a while to find the place, mainly due to the fact that it is down an alley. Best advice is to look for the Domino’s and then walk past it, then make a left when the road ends. We arrived on a very busy Saturday night and were told it was going to be a 30 minute wait for a table but were free to sit at the bar. I suggest anyone eating here to sit at the bar to watch the awesomeness happen.

Chef Yoshikawa in his element

Chef Yoshikawa in his element

All the pizza’s are made by the man in the red rimmed glasses. And he is very good at what he does.

The menu is quite extensive with appetizers, soups, salads, one-dish meals and of course pizza. With over 14 different pizzas, it was hard to choose. Luckily, Pizza 4P’s offers combination pizzas by offering half orders on each pie. This time, we ordered a full margherita and a half salmon sashimi/quattro flowers pies.

Pizza dough ready to go

Pizza dough ready to go

From the first minute of watching from the bar, I was completely enthralled by the quick work by Chef Yoshikawa and his crew making the pies. The speed at which pizzas were getting placed in the wood-fired oven was astounding after seeing some of the complex affairs that were being assembled. I asked the chef’s assistants to let me know when he was going to start our pizzas so I could document the process. So after a half hour of beers, conversation with our fellow bar mates and a fantastic caprese cocktail appetizer, the assistant indicated that ours was next.

No shredded mozzarella here

No shredded mozzarella here

Once the dough gets rolled out, the toppings get piled on. I love a place that doesn’t shred their mozzarella and seeing Chef Yoshikawa grabbing whole chunks of cheesy goodness made me extremely happy.

A margherita gets a dash of salt before going in the oven

A margherita gets a dash of salt

Once all the ingredients are on the pie, it gets moved to a waiting pizza peel for baking. .

Pizza waiting to be placed in the oven

Pizza waiting to be placed in the oven

Once Thuy, the pizza baker gets a hold of the pizza, it is placed inside the oven for about a minute, then it is slowly rotated and constantly checked for the prerequisite char marks to appear. When Thuy decides the pizza is done, it is placed on an awaiting dish to be garnished. It only took 2:27 from the time Thuy put the margharita pizza in the oven to the time the plate was placed in front of us.

A finished margherita pizza

A margherita pizza

A simple tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and basil finished off with some extra-virgin olive oil is all that is on this margherita pizza. My wife commented that the tomato sauce was the best she had ever had on a pizza. Sometimes simple is all you need.

Half Quattro Flowers and Salmon Sashimi Pizza

Half Quattro Flowers and Salmon Sashimi Pizza

The other pie that came out was the complete opposite of simple but the crew still managed to get it out to us at 3:47. The Quattro Flowers pizza had pumpkin, leek, telosma cordata, sesbania, grandiflora and daylily flowers accompanied on a sweet mozzarella cheese mayo and parmesan cheese. The medley of flora in the Quattro Flowers brought a fresh, crisp texture to the pizza and would have made it a light meal if it wasn’t for the other side of my plate.

Fully dressed and ready to eat

Fully dressed and ready to eat

The other half was the Salmon Sashimi which had house-made ricotta, capers, onions and parmesan cheese cooked onto the pizza. It was finished off with some raw salmon and fresh dill on the side. The Salmon Sashimi side of the pizza was a playful Japanese spin on traditional italian ingredients by adding the raw salmon and dill.

The last slice

The last slice

As we were leaving, I had a chance to chat with the owner, Yosuke Masuko about his restaurant. Chef Yoshikawa and him have been friends for over 20 years and actually built a wood fired a few years ago in his garden. When I asked about the quality and care they took in each pie that came out, the former venture capitalist cum restauranteur simply replied, “I really like pizza”.

Nuff said

Pizza 4P’s
8/15 Le Thanh Ton Street District 1
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Tel: 0120-789-4444
Website: http://www.pizza4ps.com

We came back 2 more times and tried the Okonomiyaki, Chicken Teriyaki, Quattro Fromaggio, Proscuitto and the Salmon Miso pizzas. All were great and we will definitely come back when we are back in Ho Chi Minh City!

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Ngon 13 months later

Banh Xeo at Ngon

Banh Xeo at Ngon

It’s been over 13 months since the Ngon fiasco that left me (and others) with a such bad taste in my mouth that I have never gone back. I still think of it as my worst dining experience in Cambodia.

However, it is one of the most read posts on our blog and we still get comments regarding the service. Many people have commented to me that I should give Ngon another chance (one actually told me to lower my expectations as “this is Cambodia”).

So with much trepidation, I went to Ngon.

In Vietnam.

And what I got was a mixed bag.

We went off to the new location which is located An Phu in District 2 which has become a haven for expatriates and well to do Vietnamese. You can definitely see the development in the clean streets and the very suburban feel to several of the compounds located in the area.

Not a bad place to have a meal

Not a bad place to have a meal

The new Ngon is one of four restaurants in the Thao Dien Village which is located on a very picturesque riverbank located on the northern eastern part of the peninsula. We went for lunch and were lucky to grab a great spot right next to the river. The menu is a bit more expensive than the one in District 1 but with the mainly seafood options and the picturesque location, I had to give them a bit of leeway in terms of pricing.

We decided to order in a non-Nyam fashion and only order 3 dishes. We got a papaya salad with beef, Banh Xeo with seafood (no shrimps please) and deep fried squid. The first dish to arrive was the papaya salad.

Fresh papaya salad with beef

Fresh papaya salad with beef

Served in a hollowed out papaya, the flavors of the salad were fresh and light and a perfect start to the meal. There was an ample amount of sliced rare beef to give the dish a bit of heft and it was topped with peanuts and deep fried shallots gave the salad a nice crunchy texture. Up next was the fried calamari.

Muc Chien Don at Ngon

Muc Chien Gion at Ngon

They looked great when they were dropped off but then the cheap side of my brain kicked in and went “Holy crap, this dish was 180,000 dong??? Dude, that’s like a dollar a ring!

Usually I dress any deep fried calamari with a dose of lime/lemon and dip them in the accompanied sauce. But I decided that these had better be the best deep fried calamari on Earth for that asking price and popped one in my mouth ungarnished and unsauced.

50 cents in my belly and 50 cents on my chopsticks

50 cents in my belly and 50 cents on my chopsticks

It was good but it wasn’t mind-blowingly great. I asked for some lime and tried it again garnished and sauced. Heaps better but still not worth the price. In the end, I waited for special moments like when a boat was passing by to have another ring so I could appreciate the price of the dish a bit more.

The last dish to arrive was the banh xeo which was pretty tasty and very filling.

Banh Xeo at Ngon

Banh Xeo at Ngon

One ingredient that I have not ever seen in Banh Xeo was the addition of mushrooms which gave the dish an earthy taste which cut the taste of the large amounts of onions in the dish.

Some shipping goes by

Some shipping goes by

The meal came to just under $40 USD and even though the location is great and I left full, I couldn’t stop thinking about that damn calamari.

Vinh

Ngon
Thao Dien Village
195 Nguyen Van Huong St.,
Thao Dien Ward, Disctrict 2, HCMC

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