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Sunday, July 30, 2006

THE VIET GRILL: LIFE’S A BEACH













It was a muggy day and, after the excess of yesterday, we were both muggy headed.

Sundays with a hangover often see us choose Dim Sum as a restorative. Today, however, HP suggested Vietnamese at The Viet Grill, a new sibling to our favourite place Cay Tre.

First, our standard stroll, along Brick Lane and past the Urban Beach which has been set up just behind the Upmarket. Unfortunately, my dear chum, Petra had taken the Chocstar van on the road, so I was not able to avail myself of the fabulous triple chocolate milkshake she introduced me to last week. Ho hum

Still, by midday, we were back on The Kingsland Rd and ready for lunch. The Viet Grill has only been open three months and is still finding its place in the strip of Vietnamese restaurants that are, I am told a legacy of The Rag Trade. We were, for all of our visit, the only people in there. I am sure that they will get busier. I hope so as this was easily one of the best Vietnamese meal I have tried in London.

As ever, three starters. Summer rolls were fresh and crunchy. Soft shell crab was plump and freshly fried with no trace of the greasiness we have found in less able places. Best of all was the signature dish of quail, stuffed with minced pork and Chinese mushrooms and braised in a stock with small lotus balls. The stock was beautifully restorative, the quail flesh fell from the bone and the stuffing was well, just delicious.

Main courses were also well above average. A Goi ( salad ) with chicken and seafood was crisp and the dressing suitably sharp. Courgettes cooked in a wok with garlic cloves were delicate and a more standard dish of noodles with tofu was better than the norm.

Best of all, for HP was another signature dish of “Feudal” beef which apparently has its origins in a form of torture where flesh was torn from the victim to the sound of drum beats and now refers to a way of stripping beef from a carcass. The end result was chunks of tender beef with a lovely char served with a dipping sauce of soy and mirin.

Best of all, for me, was a dish of pork, pounded with turmeric and baked for 20 minutes. The turmeric did not over power the pork which retained its own character and benefited from the crunch of cooking.

With some tea, some house made lemonade and a bottle of water, the bill came to £60 for two which again represents our ability to order for an imaginary extra person and a normal bill for two would come to about £40.

I am a regular reader of an excellent website www.noodlepie.com whose writer is far more of an expert that either of Dos Hermanos on these matters so I would welcome any comments. I have no idea how echt these dishes were, but they seem a long way ( noodles aside ) from the usual Chinese based dishes one finds in others on this stretch and I am certain I will be giving this place another try soon

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Graham said...

Hi Hermanos - interesting how Vietnamese food in the Uk bears no resemblance to the article in country. Not to say it's total balls, you clearly had a very good time. But, we chatted about this subject with Vietnamese and overseas Vietnamese here:

http://www.noodlepie.com/2006/06/vietnamese_food.html

Also, may I just add that the beef dish is superb. It's called bo tung xeo - beef ripped flesh or something is the translation. It's a northern dish and it is simple and simply fantastic, when done well. It's not *that* common, but those places that sell it are very popular with the early evening eating adn boozing set. This the Saigon rendition,

http://www.noodlepie.com/blog/bo_tung_xeo/index.html

I think you need the chill of Hanoi to really appreciate this dish though.

Monday, July 31, 2006 12:39:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 2 said...

Fair comment. It is the way I feel when I see "Spanish" tapas bars in NYC and London.

It is not to say thatthe food cannot be decent or tasty, but it bears little or no resemblance to the real article in Spain itself. In part,the reason could be the availability of ingredients. But, I think there is more about context, ambience and spirit which cannot be recreated outside its own environment

Like a NY diner or a F&C shop in the UK. They are created by generations not by accountants and designers

That being said, it may havebeen eating Vietnamese food through a glass darkly, but it was tasty, fresh and enjoyable. Makes me think I need to try the real thing

Monday, July 31, 2006 12:58:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

www.doshermanos.co.uk; You saved my day again.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010 11:00:00 am  

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