Vietnamese, Food 3-4/5, Price ~£15 for starter/main, Waiting time ~5 mins, Atmosphere 3/5 , website
A very good local Vietnamese restaurant, which offers great value for money and some standout dishes. Admittedly, I wouldn’t go more than a couple of stops on the tube out of the way to eat here, but it’s now my first choice restaurant in Finchley (closely followed by Casa Brazil and Izgara).
They made no mistakes with the Summer rolls. The skin and the rice vermicelli were soft and moist and the flavours clean and fresh, if not on the bland side. More fish sauce would have been good.
The crunchy Papaya salad with a sweet dressing was refreshing and pleasant enough, though again I would have liked a tiny bit more complexity and zing with the flavours.
The Pho was the best I’ve tried in London so far. A clear, flavourful broth with tender morsels of beef and plenty of bouncy, translucent rice noodles. I like the way it’s comforting without being guilt-inducingly unhealthy.
The crispy fried sea bream with shredded mango and fish sauce they recommended was incredibly delicious. I absolutely adored the salty-sweet-sour seasoned fresh mango on top of the fried fish with a crunchy, aromatic exterior and tender flesh. It works like a dream and is exciting for the palate. At £11 for a whole fish big enough for two to share, it’s a real bargain. This dish shows the kitchen’s true potential, and has made me decide to go back to try out their other recommendations. As the service is friendly and lightning fast, and the interior clean and bright, there’s no reason not to.
20% off at lunch, 10% off takeaways and free delivery over £15 within a three mile radius is also a nice touch.