Southern Star, Sao Nam Shines Ever Bright: Mindful design of Vietnamese cuisine
Nestled deep in the heart of Bukit Bintang lies the rare jewel of a place, Sao Nam. This establishment has stood firm and unyielding for 15 long and fruitful years. With its first menu curated by the esteemed celebrity chef Mdm Cam Van, its selection has, since it’s initiation been upheld and reinvented by a proud line of talented, award-winning chefs. Preserving the French touch on their sui generis Vietnamese cuisine, this destination restaurant has captured the hearts of both tourists and expats that wonder about KL, looking for exceptional cuisine.
Goi Mang Cut
We were instantly floored by the first dish brought to our table. Goi Mang Cut, a mangosteen and prawn salad inspired by the southern region of Vietnam. This bizarre amalgamation of ingredients included coconut shavings, grilled chicken slices with annatto seed, dried squid, fresh tiger prawns and succulent flesh from the mangosteen fruit itself. This dance of fantastic flavours blew our minds. The sweet refreshing juice of the mangosteen fruit combined perfectly with the mild flavour of the meat and prawns, and the special kumquat dressing played its light citrus tones creating a symphony in our mouths that’ll definitely linger in memory. A work of culinary art indeed.
Vit Sot Me
Braised duck, cooked with carrot and ginger, garnished in tamarind sauce, traces of orange skin gracing the dish with hints of citrus notes. Simple enough, but a masterpiece when prepared by the chefs at Sao Nam. The duck meat, soft and tender with its mild natural sweetness mingling in harmony with sour, savoury tones from the tamarind sauce. This unassuming dish brought back the intimacy of unadulterated, fundamental flavours to mind. An uncomplicated dish both in presentation and ingredients, but akin to the basic notes that fabricate delightfully intricate songs, these few ordinary ingredients curated an extraordinary gustatory symphony on the tongue.
Bun Thit Noung
This chicken noodle salad was truly refreshing dish, perfect for a noonday meal. Drawing inspiration from Central Vietnam, the chicken here was marinated with lemongrass, onion and garlic, then grilled to bring forth tasty morsels of meat. With a base of vermicelli that supports the flavourful chicken accompaniment, the drizzle of sweet and spicy fish sauce and abundance of vegetables thrown mindfully into the dish was a seamless blend of yummy, guilt-free goodness. When in doubt of what to eat for lunch, drop by Sao Nam to feast upon healthy lunch set delicacies, Bun Thit Noung being one of the choices for the mains accompanied by two deep-fried chicken spring rolls and a salad of the day!
Imagine how a regular pancake would appear. Now banish it from mind as you discover a whole new world of pancakes. Vietnamese ones. Unlike any pancake that has crossed our path, this fascinating play on pastry, with its brilliant golden shade, had us spell bound on sight. The Vietnamese Crispy Pancake, made with rice flour batter, folded in with mince chicken, prawns and bean sprouts, and skilfully fried to create golden brown crisp edges, was a wonder to behold. Absent eggs, the texture of the pancake is uniquely brittle, breaking off easily, and when melded together with the rest of the ingredients, provides a satisfying crunch. There is a unique way to eat it too. The colossal pancake is cut up into smaller portions and the bevy of ingredients within, together with fresh basil leaves, are carefully rolled up in lettuce and dipped in special fish sauce before taking a bite. Be prepared for an invigorating experience on the taste buds as the fragrance of the basil integrates seamlessly with the mild prawn and chicken notes coupled with the robust flavours from the crunchy pancake while the slight sweetness of the fish sauce envelops the entire toothsome morsel.
Sao Nam means ‘star Vietnam’, and it definitely burns the brightest in out-of-the-ordinary Vietnamese cuisine. The freshness of ingredients and choreography of flavours you’ll uncover here will be nothing short of exceptional.
Address: 25, Tengkat Tong Shin, Bukit Bintang, 50200 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Hours: 12:30–2:30PM, 7–10:30PM
Phone: +60 3-2144 1225