Food is always best when being shared. Another perk is that you get to sample multiple dishes and allow your taste buds to go take on a ride. Spanish tapas and Chinese dim sums are the perfect examples. Apart from that, we’ve now got Indian food pioneering this ‘small dish’ concept in London with the likes of Talli Joe and Hankies Cafe. And now there’s one for Vietnamese food too by this restaurant called Viet Food.
Viet Food is situated at the heart of China Town. With such a prime location, it’s best to visit early to avoid the crowd/queue or book a table in advance. It was an impromptu dinner with my friend so we obviously didn’t book ahead. We were there around 6.30 pm on Friday. The restaurant was already quite full. We waited for a few minutes and the staff came back to us asking if we minded sharing the table and if we would be able to return the table by 8.30 pm. That’s cool with us so then we were led to the upstairs area and shared a table with two other people.
Viet Food does not serve halal meat but there’s no lack of delicious seafood dishes to choose from. Here’s what we ordered:
Vietnamese Herbs Five-Spice Soft Shell Crab (£8)
If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’d know there’s no way I’d not order soft shell crab if it’s on the menu at a reasonable price. Crispy on the outside and meaty on the inside – this soft shell crab definitely hit the spot. It was very savoury and flavourful. Another thing I really liked about this dish here is how it’s not just a battered fried crab. I liked how it really highlighted its Asian flair with a blend of traditional Vietnamese flavours and five-spice and by serving it in a lettuce leaf bowl.
Vietnamese Pancake with Seafood (£6)
Flawlessly crispy pancake topped over a bed of mixed seafood – this dish is definitely a winner! The mixed seafood consisted of prawns, scallops and squid, and were stir-fried with onions, bean sprouts and spring onions in a savoury gravy. I really really love seafood and thoroughly enjoyed every bite of this. The seafood was of better quality than I anticipated, and were well seasoned and executed. As for the pancake, it was simply addictive. It was thin and unbelievably crispy. There’s this stunning fragrance of coconut and turmeric from it that fills you with such a satisfying sensation to the palate. All in all, it’s definitely a must to order at Viet Food.
Crispy Coconut Calamari with Sweet Chilli Herb Sauce (£4.80)
Isn’t calamari just such a classic starter or snack to order? This meal was no exception either. However, compared to the two other seafood dishes we had above, the calamari seemed comparatively underwhelming. The coating was still nice and crispy, but I couldn’t get the coconut part of it. The squid was tender to bite into but it’s somehow a bit stringy as you may encounter a bite or two where it keeps ending up like having a cheese pull.
The sweet chilli herb sauce accompanied with the calamari, whilst cute being served in that tiny jar on the plate, wasn’t particularly special. Instead of dipping them into the sauce, we find ourselves way more inclined to use the green chilli sauce that’s on the table as condiments which gave more of a tang to the calamari.
Morning Glory Stir-Fry with Preserved Shrimp Paste (£6)
Usually I wouldn’t bother to order stir-fried vegetables when eating out in London just because I find it hugely overpriced. However, we made an exception here because I have missed morning glory immensely in my life ever since moving away from Asia. Morning glory is arguably my most favourite vegetable. It’s more commonly found in South East Asian cuisine.
It’s widely established that stir-frying vegetables, typically involving garlic and sometimes with ginger and soy sauce, adds so much flavour to the ‘boring’ greens. Nonetheless, preserved shrimp paste is guaranteed to provide you with a more impressive flavour. Perhaps it’s still more of Asian-specific gastronomy, that’s why Viet Food kept it light on the shrimp paste in order to cater to everyone. It’s certainly sufficient to give you a good taste of the flavour but I’m more used to savouring a stronger hint of it.
Braised Fresh Water Prawns with Glass Vermicelli in Seafood Stock (£11.80)
Last but certainly not least, is this stunning dish that made it to another favourite dish of ours at Viet Food. The rich seafood stock carried such palatable flavours that composes a heavenly sensation to your taste buds. They are also quite generous on the amount of prawns in the dish, which is a bonus. All in all, this dish has such addictive flavours that you just couldn’t stop from it. I was even tempted to order an extra plain bowl of rice just to make sure I am not wasting every single bit and drop of the scrumptious stock.
…I thoroughly enjoyed everything at Viet Food! The food, in overall, is superb and features such a nice delicate flair of Asian flavours. It is a shame that the meat is not halal, but trust me the seafood dishes will keep your taste buds very happy!
Viet Food does not serve halal meats. Vegetarian and seafood options are available.
Nearest station: Leicester Squire / Piccadilly Circus
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