Londoners and visitors to this fantastic city are spoiled for choice when it comes to eating out. There’s fantastic restaurants on every corner, they line the streets and you’d be really hard pushed not to find one you like. If you’re a foodie, there’s hardly a better place for you to be than London.
Discovering Vietnamese Flavours at Viet Food
Walking through China Town your senses get assaulted with so many delicious smells filling the air, you’re bound to stop at one of the many restaurants. It’s difficult picking the one, they seem so similar and most are crowded. But walk to Wardour Street and into Viet Food for a great experience.
I didn’t pay much attention to the exterior, you so rarely do in London, which is such a shame, but as soon as we walked through the door I fell in love with the place. Lots of wood and tables of different height give this restaurant a friendly and authentic feel.
We were both keen to tuck in and took no time ordering a selection of Vietnamese tapas. Viet Food’s menu is quite large. You can opt for sharing dishes or get a large bowl of pho or meat for yourself. But sharing tapas is so much more fun and you get to discover different flavours with every bite.
Seafood, meat and cocktails
As it was a Thursday evening we decided to make a night out of it and started our dinner with a pair of cocktails, a Saigon Mojito for Ben and an OMG for me. What makes the mojito a little bit different from the traditional one is the addition of Vietnamese spices. I was surprised at the strength of the cocktails as they were the real adult versions, but you won’t hear me complaining. OMG was tasty, I loved the blackberry notes making this vodka based cocktail a delicious treat.
The staff at Viet Food know when to bring the dishes out, so you never feel rushed and there’s never too many plates on your table.
I appreciate that as it’s so easy to bring different dishes out at the same time and let them get cold on the table. No need to worry about that when you’re enjoying your dinner at Viet Food.
Our starter of traditional rice paper summer rolls with fresh water prawns was delicious. It’s a perfect dish for warmer days as it’s incredibly refreshing with crispy lettuce, a flavour that doesn’t overpower your taste buds and a yummy sauce that enhances the individual parts of this dish.
While we were enjoying the last morsels of the summer rolls, the crispy seafood balls with Parmesan mint cheese foud their way on our table. They had the tastiest and crunchiest outside and a lovely cheesy surprise in the middle. Think chicken Kievs except this was seafood and a ball.
It’s no secret that Ben and I love calamari… If they are on the menu, we will order them. It’s as if we’re judging a restaurant based on their calamari skills. And Viet Food passes with flying colours. Sweet chilli sauce served with the yummy rings is the perfect accompaniment to the slightly unusual calamari. They tick all the right boxes, well cooked, crispy on the outside and to top it all of the batter contains coconut. How come nobody else thought of that? I think it’s a stroke of genius.
How much is too much?
Three courses down and another four to go, we started feeling quite content. I was (as always) trying to avoid weird looks coming my way because I was constantly getting up to take that perfect photo, but the next dish took my mind of any awkwardness. It deserved to be photographed, oohed and ahed over and then finally grabbed with the chopsticks and enjoyed. Grilled scallop and prawn Saigon style were spot on. I’ve been a huge fan of scallops ever since my mum decided they are perfect for family dinners. And then she had to keep making them because I could never have enough. So, no surprise, I was delighted spotting this little treat on the Viet Food’s menu.
Scallop was well cooked and I fell in love with the sauce at first bite. The saltiness went really well with the deilcate scallop and I couldn’t stop trying to mop all the sauce up. Think soy sauce, just better with a touch of peanuts. Nothing short of fantastic.
Seafood done, over to meat
By the time the smoky spiced quail arrived we were starting to feel quite full. Luckily, quail is tiny. Again, it was well cooked, mosit and tender and I loved the salt mixed with spices that came with it. Trying to figure out what spice is in the mix is one of my favourite activities although I often fail miserably at the identification. While the flavours were great, we both found quail a bit tricky to eat. It’s a small bird, so trying to get the meat off the wings is a bit fiddly.
In hindsight (oh what a wonderful thing hindsight is) we would probably stop by now. However, I had to try one of my favourite cuts of meat (all for the sake of a good review). I say this a lot in connection with food, but here we go again, pork is one of my favourite meats.
Pork belly in particular. Not everyone is a fan of fatty meats, but I’ll take them over lean cuts any day. We ordered egg fried rice with sirloin to go with it and it was lucky we did, because the delicious sauce needed the rice.
It’s really well cooked, the meat melts in your mouth, but as it’s pork belly, it is quite fatty. The skin is also soft and not crispy, which is alright with me, but I know people who’d wrinkle their noses at the sight of this. If you’re not too keen on fatty meat, this dish may not be for you.
There’s always room for dessert
After all the food we felt like another cocktail. The lychee martinis were a great choice. I don’t usually like martinis, I find them way too strong, but the lychee juice made it really easy to drink. It was still quite strong though.
It would be a shame leaving Viet Food and not trying one of their desserts. I opted for Pandan coconut milk sago with caramel banana as it was a lighter one and Ben went for Sea salt mint ice cream with Coco momo.
The coconut milk sago was exactly what I needed. Cold and refreshing it was a perfect ending to a delicious dinner. I couldn’t get the caramel with banana, but that didn’t take away from the gentle dessert. Ben’s ice cream was served on a chocolate brownie and was a lot richer than mine.