34 Greek Street
London W1D 5DJ
We really discovered this place by chance. We took a different route to get to Chinatown one afternoon, and passed Viet Noodle bar. Based on first impressions we wouldn’t have given this a second look, but the thing that amazed us was that it was absolutely packed with customers slurping away at their very large bowls of noodles. We told ourselves that we would definitely need to come and try it out some day.
So we did. We went there after one of our exams. It wasn’t the busiest part of dinner service when we entered the restaurant, but it was already quite full. We were ushered to a table right in the corner, and were told that we were to expect to share our table with other customers, if the restaurant did fill up. No sooner than we had placed our order did we have to shuffle to the side to allow another 2 people to share our table. We didn’t really mind, as it was clear by the looks of it that this is no fine establishment – you come in, you eat, you pay and you leave as quickly as possible. In a strange way it was comforting to know that this place is so immensely popular, so the food must be good. Also, it added to the authenticity of the place. Sure, we’re being biased – there would be no chance in hell most other restaurants would get away with asking paying customers to share tables with other customers, but it was such a no frills place that we would have felt bad if we had insisted on having the table to ourselves.
Now, onto the food. We had a Vietnamese summer roll – lovely crunchy vegetables rolled in a translucent rice paper wrap. It was the most clichéd of Vietnamese starters to order, but we were glad we ordered it. A was worried that there would be an overdose of those fragrant leaves that are very characteristic of Vietnamese food, which she isn’t a fan of, but this was very well balanced and refreshing. The fish sauce dip was also excellent.
We shared a portion of fried squid rings. Those were probably one of the most addictive squid rings we have ever had. There was something oddly irresistible about the batter, and the little bits of fried chili and vegetables that came with the dish as well. The batter was a little too thick, and the squid was a little on the chewy side, but for some strange reason we really liked this dish. The flavors were awesome, and that alone was enough for us to forgive the ‘unrefined-ness’ of the dish.
We had the Special Pho (you get a mix of different meats and prawn). The soup was heavenly. It’s a clear broth that just awakes your palate and your appetite. As with all traditional Vietnamese soup mains, this came with a plate of raw beansprouts, sliced chilies and strange ‘herby’ vegetables, most of which we don’t put in our soup at all. In fact, we only put the beansprout in our soup. If there’s one thing that can be improved it would have to be the beansprouts. These weren’t the most juicy or sweet as beansprouts can get. In fact, I think the Sainsbury beansprouts are far more juicy and sweet than the ones at Viet. But that’s nit picking a little. You really cannot go wrong with ordering pho at Viet.
We tried the bun as well. This was a very simple looking dish. It was just a lot of vegetables and some beef over a bed of vermicelli. However, it was deceptively flavorful. We have to digress a little to mention the chili sauce, which went really well with everything we ordered. We even added a little in the soup, which made it even more tasty and mindblowing.
Overall, we love Viet. It is literally our favourite find of the year. It’s really hard to find an authentic bowl of pho in London. Some time back we reviewed Pho, a chain of restaurants with some branches in London selling pretty good pho. Well, Viet totally kicks Pho’s ass. Big time. There is a far more authentic feel about Viet, and the food rocks too.
Service: 6/10 (but on our second visit probably a 5/10)