Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Viet Grill

I love the little strip of Vietnamese restaurants along Kingsland Road in Shoreditch and came to the realisation that I hadn't visited any of them for yonks when an email regarding the relaunch of Viet Grill popped up in my inbox.

Along I went with Thomas on a dull Thursday evening, there's nothing quite like a Vietnamese feast to inject some zing into your day. It being a healthier and fresher version of Chinese cuisine. Perfect for trying to beat the January bulge.

I asked for the recommended chef special dishes, eliminating the difficulty of choosing from the extensive new menu. The wine list too has had a revamp with the help of wine aficionado and 'champion of the ordinary wine-drinker' (I guess that would be me?) Malcolm Gluck. We went for the Hunawihr Gewurztraminer Reserve d’Alsace 2007 which I cannot get enough of since first sampling some before Christmas.

First up came the mango salad, which is far more interesting than it sounds and comes from the recommended chef's special section of the menu.

The flavours were vibrant and fresh, a nice chili kick, julienned vegetables and fried crispy bits of squid made for a lovely amalgamation of flavours and textures. Very enjoyable and a great start to the meal.

The second starter was the beef vinh. A charcoal grilled skewer of rolled beef served with a fermented soy dressing and a side salad. The meat was perfectly cooked and wonderfully charred with a fabulous flavour. I would not have ordered either of these dishes had I chosen for myself but both were great.

Main courses again whilst perhaps not what I might have selected myself wowed us and I am now a catfish convert. Slow cooked catfish with a caramelised fish sauce served prettily in a clay pot which was set ablaze once it was placed down on the table, you can just about make out the blue flame to the bottom left of the bowl.

The fish itself was very meaty in texture, I've never had catfish before and am now a firm fan. The sauce was sticky and rich, perfect poured liberally over the sticky rice side dishes.

The second main course was the quail curry with aubergine and okra. The curry sauce was rather fruity and sweet, something well suited to my palate but I think perhaps a bit too sweet for some. I loved it though and again the sauce was excellent with the rice.

We also sampled the wokked bo xoi greens with garlic and rice wine which were quite excellent. Crunchy and packed full of flavour with so much garlic.

We were pretty full but decided to sample a dessert between us, the banana fritters which were better than the usual, this place is not about pudding though. We both also had Vietnamese coffee which again is very sweet due to the condensed milk. Thomas reminisced about his days in Australia where he often ate Vietnamese and I dreamed about when I will visit far afield places and experience the real deal for myself.

The menu is varied and remarkable value for money, they serve excellent Ph ò and Bò cu n bánh tráng, beef which is cooked at the table before you. Service throughout was very attentive and food was delivered swiftly. The same guys also run Cafe Tre and I will definitely return when that oh so familiar craving for Vietnamese hits, Viet Grill is head and shoulders above it's competitors on the same strip and I highly recommend it.

I dined as a guest of Viet Grill and received a complimentary meal with a bottle of wine

Viet Grill
58 Kingsland Road, E2

Viet Grill The Vietnamese Kitchen on Urbanspoon


mathildescuisine said...

I'm going tomorrow for lunch, looking forward to it!

Chris said...

Did you go to the Viet Grill or Café Viet? Or are they the same place.

Anyway you basically can't go wrong on Kingsland Road - they're all pretty wonderful. You should go back and try the quail, the beef in betel leaves and the pho :)

Boo said...

Hope you enjoy your lunch Mathilde!

Chris - tried the quail, it was great. This is the thing re the name of the place, I think it used to be called Cafe Viet, now it's Viet Grill though the same people run Cafe Tre, slightly confusing.

Lizzie said...

I agree, Vietnamese may seem "a healthier and fresher version of Chinese cuisine" - but that's a wild and sweeping generalisation. Chinese food can be as healthy and as fresh depending on what you order.

Unless, of course, you were referring to Chinese takeaway food, which is in another league of it's own.

Boo said...

Well yes, that is a sweeping statement Lizzie, I don't mean to be derogatory in any way about Chinese food. I've not made enough of an effort to seek out great Chinese restaurants in London. Vietnamese is more appealing to me though.

Chinese takeaway I tend to avoid altogether but I fully intend to sample more Chinese cuisine in future and to be more adventurous when it comes to home cooking.

The Grubworm said...

Lovely write up - I've been to one or two of the cafes along this stretch of road and ave yet to be disappointed. I had noticed the relaunch of this one and have been wanting to go there - a desire that's been reinforced by your review and pics.

Good idea to go for the chef's specials - was this one section of the menu, or was it more of a set price menu kind of deal?

Boo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Boo said...

Hi Grubworm, thanks for the comment! The chef's special dishes are actually a seperate part of the menu, so pretty easily identified. They do also offer 1 dish meals which are sort of set price deals as there's no need to order sides etc. Take a look at the menu

オテモヤン said...