Some of the basic canteens do perfectly adequate, traditional Vietnamese fare but Viet Grill stands out for its slightly slicker operation, with a polished cocktail bar, long, downlit tables dividing the room down the middle, and smaller, contained booths lining the walls. It’s got a touch of class without becoming cold or inaccessible.
The grub A shrewd diner knows the selection of sides and salads can contain several highlights and that’s certainly true here. If seafood’s your thing, try the chilli salt and pepper squid, softshell crab or grilled calamari seasoned with lemongrass and okra. Or you can split the sliced rib-eye, which cooks at your table and is served with kimchi, vermicelli and rice paper wraps. Don’t ignore the salads, though – the green papaya with cured beef is a winner, as is the lotus stem salad with shrimp. Viet Grill has a mouth-watering array of meat and fish mains but it’s hard to go Vietnamese without ordering a pho – the traditional noodle soup. This place does the simple things well – the broth is exquisitely flavoured – but offers some snazzy variations on the classic.
Behind the bar There’s a refreshing selection of pre-prandials, including the Viettini, – a mixture of gin and lychee – while guys will gravitate toward the Asian beers (from £3.70). There’s a limited range of cocktail staples (from £6.50) and European wines (from £4.50 a glass). Try the punch (from £14) if you’re in the mood to party.
Bill please Starters and salads from £6; mains from £8; desserts from £3.
verdict In a crowded strip, Viet Grill is a clear winner, thanks to its innovative riffs on Vietnamese classics and by delivering fare that explodes with freshness and flavour, which is, ultimately, the litmus test for food from this part of the world.
If you’ve been looking for top-notch Vietnamese, the search is over. tom sturrock
58 Kingsland Road, E2 8DP
Tube | Hoxton