58 Kingsland Road
Tel: 020 7739 6686
Date of Last Visit: Friday, 6 January 2007
The Victims; Ben, Gerry
The Damage: £18 each. With beers.
The Background: It’s a Friday and I’m been dreaming of Vietnamese food all week. I am not quite sure why, but I just keep thinking of all the places on Kingsland Road and how, after all these years. I’ve only tried two of them! I suggested an outing to Ben, and he and Gerry are game. So off we go.
You Should Know: Viet Grill and Cay Tre are related. I asked our server how, and she said the cooks are friends. I am sure there is more to this story, but that’s all I got. Viet Grill is bigger that Cay Tre, and a little more modern and–if I may say so–even a bit cleaner. There’s a big room downstairs too. Looks like these guys are betting on the 2012 Olympics, because the place is pretty big for Kingsland Road foot traffic.
The Starters: Ben and I split the combo platter, which I thought was a great deal at £4.95 a person. It came with the beef wrapped in leaves, which I love, along with spring rolls (not the deep fried kind), fried spinach, some other rolls, and four chilli spareribs, which were awesome. I would go back for the chilli spareribs.
The Mains: Our sever recommended the catfish and it looked lovely when it arrived at the table. It was served whole, head and all. Our server helpfully deboned it for us (I made mental notes for next time).
The catfish was tasty. I loved the skin…it was crispy and almost barbecue-like. But you know what? It was a little dry. This didn’t stop me from eating it, but I just wish it had been a little moister. Ben’s duck in jalapeno sauch…hmmm…not what I expected. (And yes, I suppose part of me was expecting little pancakes.) Truthfully, I didn’t like it. I like duck, but not this kind. Stringy slices were swimming in a bland (bland as in bad, not as in fresh-and-springy-bland) sauce and just looked blah. Gerry, on the other hand, had a delicious-looking bowl of veggie pho. I have problems with pho because I usually slurp the broth all over myself, but I was just a little jealous.
The Verdict: Viet Grill was off to a good start, but I’d go somewhere else on Kingsland Road before I go back. Or, well, I’ll just go back to Au Lac for the pancake. (Interestingly, Viet Grill has their pancake on the menu under "Vietnamese Pizza.")