It's the end of an era for another groundbreaking St. Paul restaurant: Ngon Bistro has announced that it will close July 22.

"It's been an epic run of 16+ years," wrote chef/owner Hai Truong on social media. In the time that it's been operating at 799 W. University Av., Ngon has been showered with accolades and had become a beloved neighborhood destination.

Truong came to the restaurant through family, but not industry. It was April Fools' Day of 2002 when Truong, who studied economics at the University of Minnesota, quit a cubicle job to pursue creative endeavors. He spent time delving into other interests, supplementing his income by working in the family restaurant where he grew up.

The restaurant went on the market, and in 2007, Truong and wife Jessica Ainsworth-Truong opened Ngon Bistro. The restaurant blended Vietnamese, French and American influences and became a destination for some and a regular visit for its St. Paul neighbors. Diners returned for the pho made with Thousand Hills soup bones and ethereal spice aromas, an iconic crispy rabbit dumpling luxuriating in a rich curry sauce, and the irresistible specials that kept the menu fresh and exciting.

In 2019, former Star Tribune restaurant critic Rick Nelson cited Ngon as part of a collective of restaurants that have elevated the Twin Cities food scene, in part by sourcing ingredients from local farmers and "crafting a cuisine that reflects the ingredients and traditions of this place."

The restaurant continued to evolve, adding an oasis of a patio, a full bar with a forward-thinking cocktail program, an epic vinyl selection providing sonic enhancements and rotating works of local art hung in the dining room like a gallery.

Ngon was a part of the tapestry that made up the vibrant Twin Cities creative scene. It outlasted many contemporaries — it opened the same year as Blackbird, Cafe Maude and Obento-Ya — and has been an impressive and delicious era.

Ngon Bistro's last day is July 22, which is also the last day of business for another groundbreaking St. Paul restaurant, Foxy Falafel.