Talking to The Little Viet Kitchen’s owner, Thuy Pham-Kelly, has rather been moving.
“You’re sitting on our honeymoon!” she said enthusiastically. As my little butt felt guilty by the second, she explained how she and husband Dave worked blood, sweat, tears – and holidays – to make their dreams come into fruition. From supper club success to a corner restaurant in Chapel Market, she’s remained humble and has not forgotten her roots and modest beginnings.
Just over a year after opening, The Little Viet Kitchen has garnered a great following from locals, to social media foodies, to men who “know nothing”. I can’t help but give her a (mental) standing ovation for being so passionate. She talked with much energy that it shook B and I to the core. We left with bellies full and hearts inspired.
The space itself is cosy. It’s a dream for social media fiends and the decor is easy on the eye. It’s the type you see in magazines where you think, “Oooh, D-I-Y project!” – and it actually is. Some of the decor were taken from Thuy’s and Dave’s wedding props.
The chao tom was on the daily special so we ordered that. This traditional vietnamese prawn cake skewered on a sugar cane came massively single on a bed of herbs. The meat was juicy and rather delectable. I wish we ordered more.
Another starter on the menu was a piece of fried quail and again, it was a very generous plate. Whenever I see this fowl in restaurants, I secretly pray that they won’t overcook it. Luckily, The Little Viet Kitchen’s offering came tender juicy to the bones. It was seasoned nicely, too.
B’s main was the mandatory bun bo hue with marrow. If you’re having issues pronouncing this, Thuy gave us a good tip: sing it tune of the first bars of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” (yes, that ‘a-wimoweh, a-wimoweh’ part).
Now this bowl was absolutely packed with flavours that tickle the soul. The broth was delicious and you can almost taste the hours it took for it to reach optimum flavour. The bowl was filled to the brim, and there was plenty to scoop: thinly sliced beef, Vietnamese sausage, meatballs and oodles of noodles. Gorgeous.
I opted for the bun thit nuong or dry noodle bowl (£16.50) with pork belly. My bowl came with spring rolls, lotsa herbs and an extra crumbed runny egg (£1.50) which I didn’t order, but B asked to have it anyway.
Aesthetically gorgeous, this bowl of noodles had generous toppings. This dish is usually all about the pork belly and the sauce, and I’m glad to say it didn’t disappoint.
For dessert, we ordered a posset of rose cheesecake which came pretty in a jar. I liked the texture of the cheesecake and the flavour wasn’t too sweet.
To say “The Little Viet Kitchen is a labour of love” is a massive understatement because it’s so apparent. Passion emanates from Thuy’s talks to the decor, to the food they serve. The vibe comes across as cosy and the place, as mentioned, is seriously photogenic. Service is friendly and if you do come across Thuy, have a bit of chat. You’ll leave inspired with your belly and your heart full.
PS – If you want to try their ban xeo (Vietnamese pancakes as big as their tables), go at lunch time.
The Little Viet Kitchen
2 Chapel Market, Angel, London N1
Average spend pp: £30