When I saw its scalloped edged plates I knew I was going to be in for a treat

Judging a restaurant by its plates is probably not always the best indication when rating a restaurant, but I have a terribly bad habit of being incapable of not judging. Plain plates, plain meal. Put the effort in with some fancy plates and the meal is usually the same.

The rest of the décor was to the same high standard with paintings and black beaded curtains to break up the room. On the large glass front window was text exclaiming that the restaurant was voted “‘coolest place to eat’ by The Guardian”. So surely it was going to be pretty damn good?

The waiters were immaculate presented and the same could be said about their manners and attentiveness, despite the restaurant looking as though it was near capacity with large groups of people – the waiters were constantly re-filling my wine and a finished plate was left on the table no longer than a minute.

We decided to let the waiter choose our dishes to showcase the restaurant’s best; however I also noticed on the menu that next to the ‘favourite or traditional’ dishes, the restaurant had them marked with a thumbs up picture which I thought was a nice touch.

Ok…so the food. First of all we tried the prawn summer rolls which set the standardfor the entire meal – fresh and delicious.  Although I am less used to cold dishes, this was an excellent surprise and I could not wait to find out what was next in store.

Next we had crispy salt and pepper crab. This whole shallow fried soft shell crab was an amazing surprise – deliciously succulent and you could taste the freshness.

On talking to the brilliant owner, Viet, I found out nothing in the restaurant is frozen; it is all brought in fresh, so when a dish runs out it’s gone for the day!

Banana blossom salad with prawns and chicken followed, again something that I had never tried before. It had a very strong, almost peppery taste which was perfectly balanced with other flavours in the noodles.

Next was Grilled minced beef wrapped in betel leaves, which the waiters showed us how to eat traditionally – wrapping them up in a lettuce leaf and dipping in the fish sauce. Once again you immediately noticed how fresh everything was – the lettuce was crisp and crunchy. I also normally think minced beef is going to signify a bland dish – this was beautifully spiced and I could have easily eaten another plate!

Everything was also beautifully presented on the plate with each course looking more appetising than the next.

The main courses I tried were the Shacking beef with garlic, bedded on salad and the
Light fried filleting seabass with dill and lemongrass. The beef was my favourite of
all the dishes with the meat cooked to absolute perfection. No chewy nasty bits of
meat here – this was the finest rib-eye steak cooked immaculately with vegetables in
soy.

The seabass, the restaurants signature dish, came presented with the whole skeleton of the fish with fried chunks of meat which melted in your mouth. I thought the presentation was a nice touch although it may offend any vegetarians at the table.

The side dish of ‘morning glory’ – a vegetable called ung choi – again was cooked well and using the freshest ingredients. The rice was the nicest I have ever tasted.

The restaurant also offered a main dish which cooked on your table as you wait, which I thought was another nice touch which gives the restaurant a bit of an edge to its competitors on Kingsland Road.

Overall I was more than impressed with every aspect from the waiting staff to the owner, the décor and the food. I will definitely be returning very soon!

Starters on average are about £4.50 per head and main courses are about £8.There is a 25% off your food bill deal on week days before 7pm. 

See www.Vietrestaurant.co.uk to make a booking.

102 Kingsland Road,
Shoreditch, London, E2 8DP
Telephone: 020 7033 0588

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