Photography by Jessica Turner.
Carol Nguyen never planned to be a restaurant owner.
After leaving Vietnam in 1978 as a refugee, she moved with her family to Australia. It wasn’t until 1995 when she returned to Vietnam, and she lived there a few years before migrating to Texas 20 years ago.
Her first business was a retail store, but it only lasted about a year. Eventually, she decided to open a restaurant, which wasn’t an unusual decision for her family. One of her cousins owns one in Vietnam, and her aunt has a Cajun restaurant in New Orleans.
The Cajun restaurant was where Nguyen learned the ins and outs of the business. And in 2013, she opened Crazee Crab in Grand Prairie.
Seven years passed before Nguyen opened Ngon Vietnamese Kitchen. Missing the food she grew up eating, she wanted to do it right.
“I wanted to try some Vietnamese food that I always had in Vietnam, but I wanted it to be my own way, my family recipe that I can’t find around here,” she says.
She picked a location on Greenville Avenue, noticing there were plenty of Vietnamese restaurants in the suburbs but fewer of them in Dallas.
Since opening in 2020, Ngon has already become a neighborhood favorite, claiming some “best of” titles in local publications.
“We have a lot of support from the community,” she says.
The one-page menu isn’t overwhelming. There are two salads, three curry dishes, six rice plates, nine noodle options and a handful of starters, sides and desserts. All of it is authentic, and some of the recipes, like the bun cha Hanoi, belong to her grandmother, who taught her to cook. The rest of the dishes were developed as Nguyen learned from professionals in Vietnam.
Pho, rice noodles in a savory beef broth, is one of the most popular selections, and Ngon offers it in a few varieties — with chicken, beef or seafood, as well as a vegetarian option. Another common pick is the shaking tenderloin, which is beef tenderloin, bell pepper and onions seasoned with black pepper and served with blue rice.