Sao Nam in a Vietnamese restaurant on the ground floor of the Empire Shopping Galley in Subang Jaya. The name apparently means "southern star" and indeed the yellow Vietnamese star is prominent between its name. It is one of two restaurants in the Klang Valley - the other being in Tengkat Tong Shin in the Bukit Bintang area. This restaurant in the Empire had apparently been moved from the Sri Hartamas Shopping Centre.
Aside from the communist undertone, the restaurant was very nicely decorated, with pleasant colours, contemporary furnishing and bright agreeable lighting. A glassed off area formed the kitchen that looked very clean and organized inside.
We were there one evening for something different and we got it. The menu looked very attractive. Everything in it looked so good.
We started with a Hue pancake. It was like a small pizza. The crust was made from rice flour and egg, topped with chicken, seafood and some raw bean sprouts. The bean sprouts on the pancake may not look very appetizing, but it was actually very good. In fact, I felt the bean sprouts complemented the pancake very nicely. The pancake was served with an array of veges and fruits.
The Hue beef noodle soup (pho bo) was somewhat lacking. I guess after the beef noodles in Melbourne, all other pho bo outside Vietnam would be lacking. The bowl of noodles was rather over-spiced, the portion of beef was ungenerous and the soup did not have the oomph.
Next was the grilled egg-plant (brinjal). It was served with the skin removed, with some chillied fish sauce and topped some ground peanuts and spices. The brinjal was soft and smooth and tasted very delicious. A very pleasant dish indeed.
Finally we had the imperial lotus leaf rice. It was seared rice wrapped and steamed in a lotus leaf. It was presented rather unimaginatively with four inedible pink flowers. But the taste was good. The rice was done just right - soft and springy. In it were pieces of shrimp, egg and lotus seeds. The concept of steaming partially fried rice in a lotus leaf was new to me and I liked it very much.
The meal was different. We sampled a bit of everything - rice, vege, noodles and even a pancake. I enjoyed the variety. But it did not come cheap. The 4 dishes plus drinks came up to more than a hundred bucks. For some reasons, Vietnamese food like its Japanese counterpart, is becoming very expensive nowadays.