Annam Vietnamese Restaurant

When we first found out the Les Amis Group was adding a Vietnamese restaurant to their stable of dependable establishments, we were as keen as mustard to check it out. Add on the fact that Nam Nguyen, who has trained at Michelin-starred Le Canard in Oslo, was to be both chef and co-owner, and Annam looked set to be a surefire hit. Old school detailing like mosaic floor tiles and marble-top tables successfully achieve the desired nostalgic yet effect; complete with waitresses dressed in traditional-styled áo dà, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve been teleported to a refined, upscale eatery in Vietnam. Regrettably, the food on several visits proved lacking. From the overwhelmingly sweet thit kho trung kieu Annam (simmered pork with hard-boiled egg, a Vietnamese version of kong ba bao, if you will; $35) to the bland goi buoi cua (pomelo salad with Sri Lankan crab; $28) to the far too salty ca kho rieng (fish with galangal; $35), even the communal spirit didn’t save the food from the fate of leftovers. We love a good pho, but the previously lunchtime-only pho bo (beef noodle soup; $28) wasn’t worth a separate dinner trip back (note to the chefs: when it comes to soup, bones are your friend). Not all the dishes were missteps though: The banh xeo (sizzling pancake with prawns; $22) was a good-sized portion and beautifully crisp, while the ca phe kem flan (coffee crème caramel; $9) was superb. Despite the attractive surrounds and pleasant enough service, we just couldn’t get over the price hurdle of what was largely mediocre Vietnamese food ($28 for an average bowl of pho, really?).Don’t miss: Banh xeo. It’s one of I-S Magazine’s 50 things to eat in Singapore before you die (2012).