Although it is still winter here in London it only took one bite of Viet Grill’s summer rolls to transport me to Nah Trang beach in Vietnam. Yes the summer rolls were that good. Translucent rice paper is folded around tightly packed wads of vegetables and fresh, meaty prawns. Doused with some sweet chilli sauce it was easy to believe that I was thousands of miles away from Kingsland road in Shoreditch.
Kingsland road forms London’s own little Vietnamese restaurant ghetto and I have gradually been trying to work my way through the restaurants on offer. Viet Grill seems to have higher aspirations than some of the other more basic restaurants. Boldly patterned wallpaper lines the walls while the seating is constructed from heavy black timber.
The wine list created by Malcom Gluck offers a decent variety of options so Claire and I have a glass of the semillon each while Mez tries out one of the Vietnamese beers on offer. The prawns in the summer rolls were so good that we decide we must try them deep fried in the spring rolls but they are just a little overcooked and so not quite up to the same standard.
The food at Viet Grill is fantastic value for money. It is slightly more expensive than some of the nearby Vietnamese restaurants but most of the mains are priced around the £7 mark and are generous in size. The roast duck is a feast in itself with the rich and fatty meat of the duck giving off a come hither glisten as it laid across a platter of wok seared bok choy. A huge plate of grilled eggplant is so tender that it drips through your chopstick as you try to scoop it up.
The special Vietnamese quail curry was quite a production as it came served in a large earthenware pot which our waitress proceeded to set alight. The thick curry sauce cleverly enriched the quail however the service of the quail as a whole bird made it nearly impossible to eat. It may not have looked as spectacular but we all agreed that we would have preferred it if the quail was broken into pieces.
If I was being fussy I would say that Viet Grill’s salt and chilli squid needed a bit more kick to it. However mindful that the Vietnamese are more light handed with chili than the Thais I will keep my mouth shut and focus instead on the pleasure of tucking into the fresh chewy squid coated in a thin layer of crispy batter.
Service was not great but at these prices I did not really expect waiters to be fussing over me. On the strength of the summer rolls alone I think Viet Grill could be my new Kingsland road favourite. It is the perfect place for a taste of Vietnamese sunshine on a wintry London day.
Details: 58 Kingsland Road, Bethnal Green, E28DP (Ph 0207 7739 6686)
Damage: Such a bargain even my mother would approve