It takes a lot to stand out in South Kensington. It’s a strange neighbourhood with a large mix of tourists, Imperial College foreign students living off a measly stipend, and mega wealthy locals tucked away in their perfect wisteria-adorned homes. As a restaurant, who do you cater? The volumes of tourist, hungry after powerwalking through all three museums looking for a cheap and cheerful meal, or the locals who are able to spend a pretty penny on outstanding freshly cooked food?
According to the press release, Go Viet just opened its doors in earlier this month, though during our meal the staff had informed us it was December last year. Either way, I was pleased to be there.
My friend and I were the only ones in the restaurant on a Thursday night at 7pm. I would have expected the place to be full and buzzing, but then again, it was also the hottest day of the year and people were no doubt content in the park or dining al fresco. It’s a beautifully simple space, with seating both upstairs and downstairs.
For two people, they recommended three appetizers, two mains, a side of veg and rice and noodles. Though we were hungry, we thought that was a bit overkill and went with the above minus the noodles. Little did we know, they brought us two amuse bouches: grilled chicken with sweet chilli sauce – so soft and succulent! – and Bí Mật Tomato, which as refreshing as they were, just tasted like peeled plum tomatoes.
Our appetisers of Carpaccio Scallops (£12.80), Smokey Spices Quail (£12.80), Crispy Soft Shell Crab (£11.80) arrived quickly. The scallops were so fresh, you would almost think you were seaside. Both the soft shell crab and the quail were fantastic, but the quail really took the star of the night. The five spice seasoning just gave it that punch of salt, sweet, and fragrance. Sprinkled with roasted lime juice and dipped in a salt mix, I would have been content if the meal finished there.
With advice from the extremely helpful and friendly staff, we ordered the Grilled Chilean Sea Bass (£1.80), 24 Hours Slow Cooked Black Gold Beef Cheek (£18.80), Grilled Eggplant & Crispy Bean Curd (£8.80),and Baked Iberico Pork Rice (£12.80). Dish after dish, they all hit the spot, both in presentation and in flavour. The dishes are simple, packed full of flavour and you can just taste the high quality ingredients. It’s quite a different approach to Vietnamese cuisine, unlike Chef Jeff Tan’s first outpost, Viet Food in Chinatown serving up tapas style, Vietnamese street food. Having eaten at both now, I certainly think his talent excels here, showcasing his fine cuisine skills in both taste and presentation.
With our bellies full, we couldn’t resist the sound of Pandan Coconut Sago with Diced Banana (£5.50) and shared one between the two of us. Silky smooth and not overly sweet, it was delicious and kept us refreshed for our slow walk home.
Service is wonderfully attentive and friendly, and it was really great to see the place full by 8pm. I will certainly be back, if not only for the quail and the sago dessert!
53 Old Brompton Road