Ngon Vietnamese Bistro

Bar, Eatery

799 University Ave W
Saint Paul, Minnesota, 55104-4806
United States

(651) 222-3301 | map

View: Place Reviews
Reviews: 7 | Ratings: 9 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of doucmehu
doucmehu from Oregon

3.98/5  rDev -5.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4.5

Ngon is a great Vietnamese/French restaurant that also happens to have a localvore Vietnamese chef/owner with a love of craft beer and motorcycles. It is in an unassuming neighborhood amidst tons of other ethnic restaurants, but inside hides great warm decor and some outstanding upscale Vietnamese and wild game.

They have 8 taps + one cask, and almost all are MN locals at $5/pint (HH is $1 off). They get all of the good stuff too, which is why I have to stop in for a beer and takeout on a somewhat regular basis. You will see Darkness on tap every New Year's Eve, plus pretty much everything else Surly, Lift Bridge, Flat Earth, Summit or Harriet put out (I was told kegs of Abrasive and Lift Bridge Commander were up next).

The food at Ngon is the real star, however. The menu does not change much, but what they do have, they do well. The traditional Vietnamese dishes are excellent, high quality and substantial portions are given. The Pho has won numerous awards, and is definitely the house specialty. The French-influenced dishes are also solid, with a strong emphasis on locally sourced wild game such as pheasant, duck and elk. Prices are in line with other area dishes, which coupled with quality creates a solid value.

One of my only complaints is there lack of volume, which leads to minimal rotation change. This is particularly an issue with their casks. I have seen them sit there for almost a month, by which time the beer is completely flat and (in my opinion) should no longer be served. The serving temp is also too high, coming out at around 70 degrees. I never order the cask without a sample first.

Overall, Ngon is a great local restaurant that I love to see people supporting. I recommend stopping in if you are in the area.

Jan 22, 2012
Photo of corcoranjc
corcoranjc from Minnesota

4.5/5  rDev +7.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

My wife adores this place. Don't get me wrong, I love it too...but I think if she could go here every week, she would.

the food is upscale vietnamese at reasonable prices, and there are always very cool local/regional ingredients used (e.g. buffalo) and wonderful vegan options.

The beer list is not huge, but it's always surprising. There's often something very cool on cask from Surly and I always see something I've never tried before or have never seen on tap anywhere else. The management works hard to make the food and beverage menus manageable in size and high in quality.

the patio is nice in the summer as well!

Feb 18, 2011
Photo of UMNbeerhunter
UMNbeerhunter from Minnesota

4.13/5  rDev -1.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 2.5 | food: 5

What can I say its not much of a beer bar but it is a wonderful place to grab a local brew and have an awesome meal.

This is not a place to sit down and drink a bunch of craft brews; leave that to the Happy Gnome or the Bulldog. What it is, is a place to have an excellent meal and have LOCAL craft brews.

Food is a fusion of the best that Viet Nam and the US has to offer. I had the sliced steak with peppercorns, and wasabi mashed potatoes with spicy green beans. Great meal.

Like I said the beer selection is limited to good locals and some other widely distributed notables. The night I went they had some Surly Darkness on tap well after the release( I went 12/31/10). Only other place serving Darkness in town is time is Cafe 28 the owner of Surly's wife's place over by lake Harriet in Minneapolis.

Overall a wonderful experience. I will be back with out a doubt. If anything, come for the food, and then enjoy the awesome local brews.

Jan 07, 2011
Photo of syrupjoe
syrupjoe from Florida

4.1/5  rDev -2.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Have been hearing a lot about this place in local news - they're recognized both for their large MN beer tap selection and their primarily organic/local menu.

They didn't have any cask beer the night I was there, and they were out of the first two taps I asked for. Regardless, I give them credit for making the effort to provide such a myriad of local suds.

We love Asian food (and Vietnamese in particular), and spend a lot of time exploring TC metro restaurants, so we were excited to see if their menu was up to par with the current leaders.

The spring rolls were EXCELLENT. On par with Quang (arguably the best spring roll restaurant in town). The beef noodle salad was pretty good too, but my broken rice and chicken dish was not so good. The chicken was very fatty, and the seasoning didn't taste like it was very Asian-influenced. More like BBQ.

Overall, I was pretty happy with the place, but the bill was pretty steep for food that can be had at holes-in-the-wall just blocks down the street. Their main competitive advantage is the MN beers on tap, in a pretty relaxed atmosphere.

Oct 18, 2010
Photo of jera1350
jera1350 from Minnesota

4.45/5  rDev +6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Went here with my wife for dinner before a Wild game. I love that this place tries to use all local and organic ingredients and only have local beers on tap. My kind of place already. Free parking outside. Not the best neighborhood, but still safe. Atmosphere is fine, nothing really fancy or too unique, but nice. Service was solid. Very friendly and attentive. Selection was really nice. As mentioned, all local beers and I want to say there was over a dozen beers on tap. They have one cask beer always on. I went for the Surly Mild and Flat Earth Northwest Passage which I hadn't had either before. Food was awesome! Fresh ingredients and very well made. We had the pork belly to start and then shared the oxtail pho which was absolutely amazing. I would go back here again in a heartbeat for both the beer and the food.

Apr 06, 2010
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Buebie from Minnesota

3.88/5  rDev -7.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Just got home from my first visit to this restaurant for dinner.

Easy access parking, nice small lot on the side, including on street un-metered parking. Neighborhood is on the up and up, wouldn't recommend walking the street alone at night though.
A local beer hand crafted sign back lit with a red neon hangs over the side door. It was a cold rainy night, so no outdoor patio seating. The outdoor backyard patio is surrounded with tall cedar fencing, allowing a private place to sit, not viewable to the passing eye.
Walk inside and there is a giant thick curtain at the front door inside to guard the patrons from wind and cold air, nice touch.
Decor is nothing fantastic, but definatly warm and homey. Very old fashioned really and cozy. I noticed right away how quiet it was inside, in a good way. The windows are double paned and block most if not all road noise inside. Its on a busy heavily traveled street.

I didnt visit the bathroom, but someone in our party reported they were in the basement down a long moldy smelling hallway.

The menu is good, some decent traditional dishes to choose from. Spring rolls were excellent and very fresh tasting. The chicken was very juicy from the kabob. Had some grill charred flavors.
I ordered the meatball pho. It was good, a little salty, but I've had saltier. Very fresh tasting pho, I've had quite a bit of it all over town and this rates at my top 3. Although they did not have tripe or tendon, as mentioned below and that was a little disappointing. Broth though was good, you could definatly tell they used bones and not beef cubes to make it.

Now on the the best of it all...the beer. The list is amazing, you would not at all expect it from this place. All locals, ontap, cask etc. I had a summit porter on cask, served in a chalice room temp. The server knew the beer and described the hops used in each beer as well as the different characteristics of each beer. I was impressed.

There are daily happy hour drink and food specials also. I highly recommend a visit, if not just for the beer.
Service was good, not amazing, but good.

Here is a list of the current beer lineup I got from their website.

Draft Beer
Oatmeal Stout, Summit Brewing Co.,
Scandia, Summit Brewing Co.,
Grain Belt Premium, August Schell Brewing Co.,
Kayak Kolsch, Lake Superior Brewing Co.,
Sheep Head IPA, Brau Brothers Brewing Co.,
Farm Girl Saison, Lift Bridge Brewery Co.,
Drifter Pale, Lift Bridge Brewery Co.,
Belgian-style Pale Ale, Flat Earth Brewing Co. St.
Furious, Surly Brewing Co.,
Coffee Bender, Surly Brewing Co., .
Cask Beer Feature,
Seasonal Beer, Minnesota
A limited seasonal beer from one of Minnesota's breweries
Feature Beer, Minnesota
A rotating tap line dedicated to showcasing beers from one of Minnesota's breweries

Mar 10, 2010
Photo of DarkerTheBetter
DarkerTheBetter from Minnesota

4.2/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

To cut to chase, all 12 taps are from Minnesota. Seriously.

The place looks like any other cafe/restaurant with big open widows up front and lots of seating. This one's got a small bar running along the left wall once you get past the door and it's curtain. Not too much here along the way of decoration. We grabbed a table and perused the small menu. Half Vietnamese and half run of the mill. The breakfast menu looked very enticing but we went for authentic. When looking at the beer menu, my eyes nearly jumped out of my head when I saw that every entry on the beer list was followed by a city, a comma, and an "MN." Wow. I never thought a place like this would have such an amazing local emphasis. I guess the "buy local" sticker on the front door was no joke. The beer list... (coming soon)

The food was great. I had bun and the others got pho. The pho was some of the best I've had, although tripe and tendon was not an option.

If you love your Minnesota beer, this place is an absolute must for a visit.

Dec 28, 2009
Ngon Vietnamese Bistro in Saint Paul, MN
Place rating: 4.2 out of 5 with 9 ratings