Mây Bốn Phương – A family restaurant nestled within an ancient villa

For many residents of the area around the Vườn Chuối market, District 3, and old Saigon dwellers, the villa in the small alley across from Lê Chí Trực primary school has become very familiar with its creatively delicious dishes.

The 60-year-old French colonial villa in the heart of Saigon offers traditional delicacies that have been cherished for over 30 years.

Exquisite Dishes

Mây Bốn Phương is a cozy family restaurant, perfect for intimate dinners or lively gatherings, where friends can chat and enjoy each other’s company. The name “Mây Bốn Phương” was coined by the owner’s uncle, a pilot, over 30 years ago, symbolizing clouds spanning the four corners of the sky. Back then, it was the owner’s uncle and aunt who conceived the idea of creating unique dishes such as Pig’s Tongue Pate and Anchovy Salad. Initially shared among acquaintances, word-of-mouth spread, and soon the restaurant became known to a wider audience, including families, friends, ordinary customers, as well as famous artists and singers of the time who became regulars.

To achieve the distinctive flavor of today’s pig’s tongue pate, the petite owner shared: “Failure, mismatched flavors, and incomparable tastes were what my mother recounted from the first attempt.” After trying various types of pate, her mother finally discovered the perfect Vietnamese-style pig’s tongue pate. The secret lies in a rich and unique flavor profile, quite different from the typical pates served with bread. High-quality pig’s tongues from trusted suppliers ensure fresh and flavorful meat, meticulously prepared to achieve a tender yet crispy texture without any unpleasant odor.

All ingredients at Mây Bốn Phương are carefully selected and prepared.

As for the anchovy salad, Ms. Vy, the restaurant owner who also oversees the kitchen, recalls: “Over 30 years ago, while preparing anchovies, my uncle accidentally dripped lime juice onto a piece of fish. Instead of rinsing it off with cold water as initially intended, he decided to taste it and discovered that the fish wasn’t fishy or odorous, but rather fresh, sweet, and firm.” Anchovies are mixed with fresh lime juice in a 2:1 ratio (3 kg of fish to 1.5 kg of lime). After mixing, the salad is left at room temperature for about 2 hours until the fish is tender yet firm. Then, sesame oil, ginger, and minced galangal are added, and the salad is left at room temperature. The accompanying ingredients for the anchovy fish are chopped spring onions and finely diced onions, served with mustard greens sauce for a spicy, tangy flavor that complements the fish.

In addition to the above-mentioned dishes, diners can enjoy a variety of delicious dishes, specially prepared for families, made from fish, shrimp, meat, crab, and prawns.

Cozy Ambience

Mây Bốn Phương is not excessively extravagant but rather meticulously arranged. The staff may not be highly professional, but they are dedicated and enthusiastic. The furniture is not overly luxurious but always clean and tidy. Each dining table resembles a family kitchen table, cozy and warm.

The restaurant is nestled within the historic French colonial villa built over 60 years ago. Ms. Vy, the third-generation heir, shares that her grandfather, the original owner and builder of the villa, was meticulous in his work. The majority of the materials used for building walls, flooring, and roofing were handpicked by him. To this day, the cool stone walls and vintage tiled floors remain untouched by moss, retaining their inherent beauty. The thick stone walls and well-placed air vents ensure that the rooms remain cool in summer and warm in rainy seasons. Because this small restaurant is situated within the family’s ancestral villa, it exudes the warmth and charm of a traditional family eatery with time-honored dishes.

Mây Bốn Phương Restaurant: 132/6 Vườn Chuối, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City. Open daily from 11 am to 10 pm, with prices ranging from 90,000 to 150,000 VND.

April 9, 2024

By Quang Tran Duy

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