Taste: Viet Huong

Over on Englefield Road in what looks from the outside like a forgotten electrical substation and from the inside like a timewarp to comunism, is a Vietnamese "canteen" that looks so wrong it must be right; Viet Huong.

Supposedly it's the front for a viet-community scheme to train less fortunate and aspiring chefs. Supposedly also, it's overwhelmingly popular and busy every night... weekend-booking essential. Not sure about the education claim, but can vouch for the popularity - within an hour of arriving for early dinner at 6.30 the place was heaving.

The food menu is lively, not your typical chicken, beef, pork with noodles or rice. Traditional Vietnamese starters (stuffed squid, essential) followed by charcoal-wood grill, adventurous vegetables and hot-plate sizzling dishses not to be missed. There's an enticing variety of seafood, poached Sea Bass at £6 is there for the taking which although tasty, is a little flabby and actually only half the fish presented otherwise.

Maybe there's a viet way to get a waiter's attention. The standard nod, wave, call, chopstick-throw seemed to go nowhere in what can only be described as comedic service. By the time for desert, the menu was literally thrown to the table... maybe the bring-your-own's had been going down slightly too well.

Overall, this is exactly the east-London gem in the rough that we're all looking for. Far better than any Vietnamese on the Kingsland Road this is cheap food cooked extremely well.

Huong Viet
12-14 Englefield Road,
N1 4LS (map)
+44 (0)871 0757115

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