Owned by Jeff Tan, former chef at Hakkasan with a star-studded track record in the food business, Viet Food has served authentic, modernized Asian fare to Londoners since it opened its doors.
Serving healthy, flavorsome and modern Vietnamese food in a chic yet relaxed setting, the restaurant has become an institution in Chinatown since September 2015, and commands a loyal following of locals and tourists.
At the core of its offering are Vietnamese tapas. From soft shell crabs, homemade spring rolls to fried calamari, these shared dishes are extremely popular and offer a great introduction to Southeast Asian food.
The spring rolls are made with pastry sheets imported from Vietnam, making them crunchier than expected. Their fried calamari, served with a homemade sweet chili dipping sauce, is a firmly-installed house favorite.
Of course, we cannot overlook its pho: a serious, attentive affair. Taking inspiration from rich, slow-cooked Chinese beef brisket broth, their soup base for Pho Chin (marbled beef) and Pho Ga (free-range chicken) is aromatic and intense, a product of 16 hours of slow cooking with quality fresh meat.
Indeed, the restaurant has capped their pho servings to 150 per day, to keep quality under control. As an alternative to the traditional beef brisket pho, there is also a sumptuous seafood version with prawns to cater to vegetarian diners.
Tan, who was previously executive head chef at Yuan in the Atlantis Palm in Dubai and chef de cuisine at the Hakkasan Mayfair from its launch in 2010, has accumulated a lot of experience and insights on the food business. It makes an obvious difference to have an experienced chef managing a restaurant.
Overall, there is a lot of emphasis on the harmony of flavor, color and aroma. This can be seen in many of the dishes, such as the chef’s special freshwater prawns with glass vermicelli in seafood stock, which combines the best of Vietnamese and Chinese cooking.
What’s more, the drinks list here is impressive for an Asian restaurant, ranging from Saigon beer to French and Italian wines.
The dessert menu has been kept simple, with innovative choices such as pandan sago dessert soup, and salted mint ice-cream on a coconut brownie.
While the taste of these desserts can be rather exotic, the imaginative use of traditional ingredients should be applauded. Beware, the curious blend of textures and flavors in the salted mint ice-cream can be especially addictive.
With its rustic wooden furniture and mellow lighting, the dining environment is relaxed, although it’s not somewhere you can stay for too long. Staff are friendly, polite and efficient, but a more attentive, leisurely pace of service would have made the dining experience feel less rushed.
As evidence of its popularity, the three-storey restaurant can be booked solid for evening dining, and more likely than not you will see a queue for tables.
Luckily, they have recently set up a new cocktail lounge bar on the top floor for diners to relax over a drink or two before their meal, and the bartender will be more than happy to recommend one of their exciting cocktails.
If you are in the mood to explore and experiment, they even have their own exclusive range of homemade syrups, ready to accompany your dream drink!
Viet Food – 34-36 Wardour Street, Soho, London W1D 6QT. Phone: +44 (0)20 7494 4555