Cheap & Good

Fantastic spring rolls at Little Vietnam by the river

Grandlink Square, a small shopping centre and residential complex at the end of Guillemard Road, is one of those buildings you are not likely to notice.

There is nothing particularly enticing about this dimly lit, blueish-grey building with glass panels.

The eclectic mix of tenants includes food and beverage outlets, a dance studio, a karaoke bar and snooker parlour, and retail shops such as one that specialises in laminate and vinyl flooring.

Whenever I pass by it during the week, it is bustling with people dining alfresco at tables along the Geylang riverfront.

Most are tucking into food from Little Vietnam Restaurant and Cafe, which has indoor seating too.

  • LITTLE VIETNAM RESTAURANT AND CAFE

    511 Guillemard Road, Grandlink Square, 01-25

    open: noon to 11.30pm (Tuesday to Sunday), closed on Monday. Last order for food at 10.30pm.

    Info: Call 6547-8587 or go to www.facebook.com/Littlevietnamrestaurant/

    Rating: 4 stars

It is a charming eatery whose patrons are as colourful as the mall's tenant mix.

The restaurant attracts families with children, expatriate couples speaking foreign languages, senior folks, youngsters as well as office workers.

The deep-fried spring rolls, or cha gio, here are fantastic.

For $5, you get five fat, tasty rolls that have been fried to a crisp, each generously filled with chicken, glass noodles and vegetables.

These crusty treats are great with beer, but to drink alcohol, make sure you get a table inside - the restaurant does not serve beer outdoors.

Other appetisers include chao tom ($5), minced prawn and pork served on a sugarcane stick; and goi ngo sen ($6), a salad of lotus stems, prawns and chicken tossed in a tangy dressing and served with rice crackers, peanuts and fried shallots.

There is also deep-fried quail ($15), cockles in various types of sauces ($6) and a light yet hearty chicken and beef pho (from $6).

I was, however, disappointed that the ban xeo or Vietnamese pancake ($8) was not available on my two visits there.

I highly recommend the bun thit nuong ($6) or grilled pork chop on rice vermicelli with vegetables, and the bun ga nuong xa ($6), grilled lemongrass chicken on rice vermicelli. The pork is delicious and fragrant, and the chicken well- marinated and tender.

A heavy meal for two would cost about $13 to $15 a person including non-alcoholic drinks such as iced tea.

Little Vietnam is crowded for good reason. Be prepared to wait during peak dining times.

  • Follow Rebecca Lynne Tan on Twitter @STrebeccatan
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 13, 2016, with the headline 'Fantastic spring rolls at Little Vietnam by the river'. Print Edition | Subscribe