Hung Viet, Kingsland Road – Hung Viet does not look attractive on the outside. The huge green signboard with well-suited letters spelling out Hong Viet is crucial as Kingsland Road is popular with the vietnamese cuisine. Has this given them a competitive edge or an obstacle to survival in the area? One thing for sure, Hung Viet understands the need for clarity in their restaurant name.
Arriving in Hung Viet was certainly not encouraging if you judged by the amount of diners inside compared to the neighbouring restaurant. However, we had booked and so, braved ourselves to try something new and not immediately judge the place.
Hung Viet’s menu is very large in proportion to the place. Myriad starters, platters to share, main courses of which you can have multiple dishes and share or a one dish meal. The kitchen space is quite small. With two chefs in the kitchen, the place can hardly fit another person. Layout of the kitchen with good teamwork is crucial to cater for such a large menu.
If you bring your own drink, there is a charge of GBP 1.00, although not indicative of whether it is the total charge or per bottle or per person. If you don’t, prices of the drinks are very reasonable.
Inside, the place is small. Long, straight, rectangular shaped, leading directly towards the kitchen stationed at the back. Brightly painted sunshine yellow walls with a few black and white images on the wall depicting daily life in Vietnam is my guess.
plain noodles (GBP 4. 00) – stir-fried with scallion and beansprouts. Quite salty despite being on the menu as plain. Not a good idea to accompany with the dishes that we ordered because they were mostly accompanied or drowned in thick glooey gravy.
morning glory in garlic sauce (GBP 6.50) – the greens were well executed, just slightly too long. It looks ungraceful. It will pass for a quick fry up at home but a no no if you dine out. Huge lumps of fried garlic, makes it all the sweeter.
claypot seafood with mixed seasonal greens (GBP 7.00) – the sauce was the best of the lot. Not too salty and there is a lightness in the broth. Although, sadly I have to say that was all worth mentioning. Asparagus = seasonal at this time of the year?
braised aubergine in black bean sauce served on a hot sizzling plate (GBP 6.00) – it arrived on the table sizzling enough away in a claypot bowl. I would thought that the black beans itself are the base in the sauce but this dish appears to be aubergines and black beans in saltish sauce. Highlight of the dish is that the aubergine is beautifully done. It melts in the mouth without any effort to chew. Personally, I think the sauce needs a little tweaking and the dish is close to being sublime.
fried sea bream garnished with chopped mango, coriander and vinegar fish sauce (GBP 9.00) – we only ordered this only because the waiter recommended. I was delighted with a whole sea bream. Proper with head and tail. Brilliant! Coriander could have done better with chopping, instead of just stalks clumsily thrown over. Crunchy exterior with flaky white flesh is matchless, if you remember the fish sauce vinegar collecting underneath the fish.
The waiter greeted us with a big, enthusiastic smile as we walked in. Throughout the meal, he was very attentive. Always available but not hovering over our shoulders. By the time our dishes were served, we were the only diners in the place. Even so, he was not slack in caring out his job. At the end of the meal, we were given wedges of fresh oranges, on the house.
Advice, they do not accept card, bring some cash with you.
On the whole, the meal was very reasonable in relation to the amount we paid. Some of the main course just need refining in presentation, balancing the consistency of sauces and care in food preparation. The theatrical flammable in one of the main courses is entertaining but we cant eat that. One disappointment myself is that I forgot about their pho dishes. When we do return, they are must try dishes on my list.
134a Kingsland Road
+44 (0)207 729 4843