Kingsland Road in Shoreditch, affectionately dubbed the Phở mile, is home to a multitude of Vietnamese restaurants. Just like Brick Lane, not every restaurant is exceptional so you have to pick and choose wisely. Viet Grill is rather new to the area and this was my second visit. During my first visit, I had the most unbelievable Phở, and on this occasion I wanted to step out of my Phở comfort zone and be a little more daring with my selection.
To start we ordered the mango salad, crispy fried tofu and “piggy” aubergine. Viet Grill did not disappoint. The julienned mango was deliciously crunchy and was interlaced with a spicy, moreish dressing of lime juice, fresh red chilli, peanuts and sweet basil. Two words, mind blowing. The crispy fried tofu had a light, crisp batter, and the spicy kim chi on the side was a welcome contrast to the mild tofu. The Piggy aubergine, which was grilled aubergine stuffed with minced pork, was amazing. The aubergine was so delicate and the minced pork was infused with a light sauce which tasted like nuoc mam: a common Vietnamese dipping sauce consisting of Vietnamese fish sauce, sugar, lime and chilli. The aubergine and minced pork by themselves would have been ordinary, but the nuoc mam catapulted the dish into another realm.
We couldn’t stay away from the Phở and ordered one classic version, and a spicier version called Huế Phở. Both were excellent. The two of us that ordered the Phở were as happy as pie, slurping away at the wonderfully seasoned broth and steering our chopsticks through the bowl to secure the thin slices of beef. Phở usually comes with garnishing and Viet Grill had a great selection of herbs (including sweet basil & coriander), bean sprouts and lime wedges so that you could season your Phở further. The third main we ordered was Phở, Mỳ xào, stir fried beef and fresh vegetables served on a bed of egg noodles. The vegetables (including spring onions and mange tout) had not been overcooked and still had a satisfying crunch to them. There was nothing wrong with the execution of the dish, however it did not outperform any of the other dishes we ordered.
Our trip to Viet Grill can not be described as anything short of phenomenal. Great quality produce and clever seasoning left me wanting more even though I was well and truly stuffed. Unlike some of the more drab Vietnamese restaurants on Kingsland Road, Viet Grill have put a concerted effort into a more contemporary design, so you’re not just going there for the food but the whole shebang. We paid £17 per person including tip and jasmine tea, so it was very good value for money aswell. I can’t wait for my next trip to Viet Grill, so that I can experiment with a few more dishes on their very extensive menu.
Viet Grill, www.vietnamesekitchen.co.uk/vietgrill, 58 Kingsland Road, E2 8DP, 0207 739 6686