Restaurant: Viet Grill, 58 Kingsland Road, London E2
I found myself in East London on a Saturday, as I had booked to do a photography course just off of Hackney Road. So when we broke for lunch with the instruction to be back in 45 minutes I knew that gave me just enough time to slip out for some Vietnamese food.
Kingsland Road is well known for it’s Vietnamese community, with a great choice of restaurants. Because I had such a short amount of time, I went into the first place I found that looked good and only afterwards I realised it was actually part of the same company that own the fantastic Cây Tre restaurant round the corner. It turned out to be a good choice.
Viet Grill is quite a large space and I was just a little sad that it was lunchtime and I had a class that afternoon so I couldn’t sample one of the delicious sounding cocktails. I ordered from the Express menu for speed and didn’t have to wait long for my vegetable spring rolls and Classic Beef Pho to arrive. The soup is made with a 24-hour cooked marrow bone stock and is filled with steak and brisket beef, along with silky noodles and herbs and onions. The broth was good – rich and flavoursome and the soup was filling. The beef was tender, and the mixture of the two types of meat made for interesting textures. I always have hoisin sauce with my Pho, and I learned a fact from the menu that I didn’t know before. Apparently only people from the south of Vietnam use hoisin, in the north they have chilli sauce to accompany the soup.
A good, fast lunchtime soup and perfect for filling up with on a cold day.
MONOHON — a slang term in Japanese meaning, ‘the real thing’.
Rumour reached us that Monohon in Old Street had added a soup to the menu. When we visited them on their opening day the only dish available was the excellent soup-less ramen, so when a friend had spotted this new addition to the menu we dropped all other lunch plans and headed down there.
Monohon is a small restaurant towards the roundabout end of Old Street, with seating at the bar and a few tables. As ever, we chose the bar – I love being able to see food (or cocktails) prepared in front of me. It adds to the experience and excitement. It also meant we could chat with the chef/owner about the broth and what goes into it.
So, the new souper-star on the menu was a Shouyu Tonkotsu – a broth that takes all day to make from pork bones, mushrooms and kelp, coupled with homemade fresh noodles and toppings that include slow braised belly pork, soft boiled egg and vegetables.
Nothing about Monohon is mass produced or fast food. Every single ingredient is made with care – right down to the water used to make the noodles (not London tap water) and the number of ingredients in the seasoning sauce (10). Every bowl is hand crafted and the finished product is a testament to the attention to detail.
I ordered extra belly pork on mine as I opted not to have the egg, and when the soup was passed over the counter, hot and steaming, it looked and smelled amazing. The anticipation was enormous, I couldn’t wait to tuck in to the cloudy broth. The noodles were amazing, some of the best I’ve ever tasted and the pork was melt-in-the-mouth. The love and respect for this dish shines through in everything about the experience. A bowl of goodness and about as close as soup comes to being a spiritual experience.
My tip would be go early, by 1pm the place was packed, and take the time to savour the soup, it’s kinda special.