Thursday, 13 August 2009
Viet Grill (Part 2), 58 Kingsland Road, London, E2 8DP
Though there are many Vietnamese restaurants in London (of which more than half are found in the Old Street part of town), Viet Grill is at the top of my favourite list. The second place position belongs to Cafe East, although both places specialise in very different types of Vietnamese food.
The last time we went there, we went with the aim of trying out Tay Do (which is next door to Viet Grill, and which we have previously tried, but haven’t had the chance to explore much of its menu). With a bit of a queue at the door (2 people), we used the feeble excuse of not wanting to wait, and scooted next door, back to the comforting dim-litted interior of Viet Grill.
Note: This place is NOT great for food photography, it’s kinda like eating in the dark, but the food is great so you’ll have to make do.
Goi cuon £3.50 (Fresh, soft summer rolls filled with king prawn, herbs and salad wrapped in rice paper)
For those of you who don’t know, I like chewy food. The chewier the food, the better it is to me – unless it’s meat or something like fruit juice (high standards). This means that I like things like har gau wrappers, the skin on custard and jellies, and of course, the chewy transparent goodness that is the summer roll skin. In Viet Grill, the summer rolls are not only fresh and chewy, but full of fresh herbs (you can actually taste the green zingy taste of the herbs), fresh prawns balanced by the fruity, sweet and sour dip provided.
Beef vinh £7 (rolled chunk of five-spiced beef fillet, charcoal grilled, served with fermented soy dipping sauce)
One of the must have items in this restaurant is this beef dish. Obviously, my first thought when the dish was placed in front of me was:
‘Is that all the meat I get?’ and then
‘This looks like a shish kebab’
When I bit into one piece of the beef, all reservations flew out the window. Despite the small (to me anyway) portion of beef served, all the flavour and goodness of a fat, juicy, meaty cow was filled into these 2 little rolls of perfectly grilled, fantastically marinated, excellent tasting beef.
I didn’t even know it was possible to make beef this tasty. The dip was made from some ginger mixed with fermented bean (or so it says, though I couldn’t quite tell) which went very well with the salty beef.
Com suon £7 (Pan seared pork filet mignon with house pickle over steamed rice)
Oooooo now this was lovely, each piece of pork was tender and so well marinated, with flavours blending on the tastebuds. Each bite was soft, salty, and slightly sweet; balanced by the fresh plain rice, and then tangy again with some sweet and sour pickles. I like those pickles, they were crunchy and so fresh, I wanted more.
If we didn’t like the other dishes so much, this would have easily been the winner, but then again, they all were.
Pho, My Xao £8 (Egg noodles wokked over a high flame and laden with fresh vegetables, Chef’s special)
With most restaurants, we order a noodle dish as a filler of sorts, so that we can have the freedom of trying out various little dishes, but still be full after the meal. This was what we set out to do here, assuming that the noodle would just be there as a source of carbohydrate.
Thing is, this noodle was so so good. Although you got a choice of getting either egg noodles or pho with the dish, we just let the waiter decide for us, as I couldn’t make a choice and I’m sure he knew which was better. He chose the egg noodle option.
The noodles are cooked in some rice-win mixture, I’m convinced of this as when I bit into a mushroom, the taste of rice-wine was very fragrant, thus although I couldn’t taste it specifically in the dish, it must have been used in the sauce mixture. The egg noodles complemented the dish very well, as they retained some element of chewiness and crispness instead of getting all soggy (although the pho might have done equally as well), but unlike with pho, the egg noodle has the ability to absorb its sauce, which probably was the reason why it was so tasty.
With probably half a farm’s worth of vegetables on the plate, I really enjoyed this dish, every bite of it.
Would I recommend this place? So much so that I count it as one of my favourite Vietnamese restaurants in London.
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