Photo by JASON HO(Photo by JASON HO)

The latest restaurant in Les Amis' ever-growing stable is Annam, a high-end Vietnamese eatery that boasts all the right elements. Beautifully modelled after a colonial Vietnamese home, the restaurant's painted tiles, marble-topped tables, bright pink lotus lamps and wooden furnishings transport diners to the country.

The kitchen is helmed by Vietnam-born and now Dutch citizen chef Nguyen Quoc Nam. He first made his name in Singapore at the now defunct The Lighthouse in Fullerton Hotel before moving on to other impressive stints. Before returning to start Annam, chef Nam was the executive chef of Sukhothai Hotel in Bangkok.

One could say that this is a homecoming of sorts for him. Not only has he returned to a city where he has many fans, but he is also cooking the food that he knows innately well.

Photo by JASON HO(Photo by JASON HO)

Like most other Vietnamese restaurants, this one serves the requisite pho and spring rolls. But this is a Les Amis outfit after all, and naturally, there is a host of other lesser-known Vietnamese dishes for diners to discover and, hopefully, delight in.

One of the most memorable of these was banh xeo ($22), a "sizzling" fried pancake flecked with prawns, pork and bean sprouts. It wasn't so much sizzling as it was delightfully crisp with a wafer-like layer of batter. If you are as unfazed by tasty fried food as I am, you will find it incredibly hard to restrain yourself with this dish.

I half expected the bo la lot (S$22) - or beef wrapped in betel leaf - to have the same sharp, acerbic flavours. As it turned out, cooked betel leaf is much like vine leaves - they have a mellow, earthy flavour and, in this dish, harboured succulent slivers of tender beef. The nem cuon Hue (S$18) - or fresh spring rolls Hue-style - comes with a crunchy pickled shrimp on top, offering a textural contrast to the chewy rice paper skin and the fresh vegetables within.

Photo by JASON HO(Photo by JASON HO)

Certainly, while Annam positions itself as an upscale restaurant, much of the food feels like comforting homespun fare. It is the prices, really, that are posh.

A bowl of beef pho, for instance (which is only served at lunch), will set you back S$28. Sure, it's a relatively large bowl of pho, but it is still an expensive one. It is clean tasting and calming as it is meant to be.

Aside from the high prices, the only other marring quality of the restaurant is its acoustics. When the place fills up, as it often does at mealtimes, it is near impossible to hear your dining companions without shouting. But that can be easily rectified with some carpeting, which the restaurant says it plans to put in soon.


Where: 1 Scotts Road, Shaw Centre #02-11 Singapore 228 208

Telephone: 6735 6656


Opening hours: Daily noon to 2pm, 6.30pm to 9.30pm, closed on Mondays