After a wave of Korean food sweeping London’s shores – think great street food from the likes of Busan BBQ, Old Street eatery On the Bab and Judy Joo’s Soho based Jinjuu – we thought The Handbook’s old faithful, good ol’ Vietnamese, deserved a little love. Here’s a round-up of where we recommend you should go to get some.
What: Vietnamese pho
Why: Arguably London’s first Vietnamese street food restaurant, Pho has been blessing the capital with its delicious dishes since summer 2005. The brainchild of Stephen and Juliette Wall, Pho was inspired by their travels to Vietnam and remains a family-run business today, serving up comforting bowls of Pho chin (tender brisket slow-cooked in stock), Pho ga (chicken breast in chicken stock) and Pho tom (Tiger prawns) among other interesting variations. The Handbook is a regular devourer of Pho bon am trung, Pho’s House Special, with brisket, enoki and button mushrooms and creamy egg yolk swimming in a tasty beef broth.
Where: Various throughout London
What: Quick & convenient Vietnamese
Why: A stone’s throw from Holborn station, Viet Eat is perfect for hungry workers and commuters alike, providing quick, convenient and affordable Vietnamese street food. The Handbook recommends going post-office for their Set Dinner Menu, which offers two courses for only £15 per person – think summer rolls with tiger prawns and spring crispy pork and crab rolls with mango to start, followed by your pick of traditional pho, S
slow-cooked Mekong catfish; red wine beef stew or Vietnamese chicken curry to name a few. It’s worth noting, they also deliver for those craving Vietnamese al desko at lunch.
Where: 48 Kingsway, Holborn, WC2B 6EP
Pho & Bun
What: Revolutionary Vietnamese
Why: A little sister to View Eat above, Pho & Bun is relatively new to the London dining scene at less than a year old. Located amogst the hustle and bustle of Shaftesbury Avenue, they serve up revolutionary Vietnamese to tourists and hungry Londoners alike. As well as the traditional Pho noodle soup, they also serve a new steam bun burger, consisting of 28 day dry-aged beef patties sat upon light steamed buns, topped with their signature smoky mayonnaise and different types of herbs and salad for freshness.
Where: 76 Shaftesbury Avenue, Soho, W1D 6ND
House of Ho
What: Contemporary Vietnamese
Why: Standing proud in the heart of Fitzrovia, you’ll find House of Ho in a four-story luxury townhouse, boating a collection of rooms for more intimate, private dining experiences. The food is colourful, vibrant and full of flavor, with a menu offering a carefully curated selection of dishes to bring you the sights, flavours and aroms of Nam. Try the Vietnamese Scotch egg and popcorn shrimp for a Western-take on the food, with sea bass and prawn dumplings, beef pho and vegetarian summer rolls for the traditionalists among you. Did we mention the crispy duck and watermelon salad? It’s perfect for summer.
Where: 1 Percy Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 1DB
What: Vietnamese kitchen
Why: Brought together by five siblings, Banh Banh is a family-run business in Peckham, where they were born and raised. The food reflects the dishes of their Grandmother, who was a chef in Saignon during the 1940s; and are all inspired by her handwritten recipes from the period. Alongside the food, you can expect a selection of fine wine and originally designed cocktails, plus great locally-supplied beers. The menu occasionally changes to reflect what’s in season, only using the finest, freshest ingredients available.
Where: 46 Peckham Rye, Peckham, SE15 4JR
What: Vietnamese lifestyle restaurant
Why: One of the many Vietnamese restaurants from the Vietnamese Kitchen group (sister sites include Cay Tre in Hoxton and Soho and Keu! in Shoreditch, the City and Soho) The Handbook first went to Viet Grill back in 2013 and has been returning ever since. We recommend sitting in, though you can get takeaway too, and tucking into the roasted piggy aubergine, salmon and avocado summer rolls, mighty marbled shaking beef and wokked monkfish and shiitake to name a few of the dishes up for grabs. For groups, Viet Grill’s feasting dishes are great – think chilli lobster, jasmine flower salad, stewed lotus Devon duck, wokked rib-eye steak, salt-baked sea bass and monkfish cheeky curry for four at only £45 a head.
Where: 58 Kingsland Road, Shoreditch, E2 8DP
What: Vietnamese French bakery
Why: Go for the matcha croissants alone. A fashionable ‘urban café’ in Fitzrovia, this Vietnamese French-fusion hot spot is open from breakfast through lunch, serving a range of pastry – see matcha croissant – and sweet treats alongside savoury eats, like the moreish Banh-mi rolls at lunch. Try the unique charcoal baguette, black in colour and dotted with white sesame seeds, stuffed with sticky caramel pork belly and drizzled with black ginger aioli. If you’re working on your summer bod, don’t despair – there are a range of bread-free Banh-mi as well – say no to the roll and opt for a Vietnamese salad with your topping and sauce of choice.
Where: 53 Goodge Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 1TG