I Finally Tried A Restaurant I Pass Every Day - And It Was The Best Dining Experience I've Ever Had
The ultimate diamond in the rough
The cosy little family-run restaurant describe themselves as one of Manchester's 'hidden gems.'
Close to Rochdale Canal in Ancoats and opposite Manchester's Wing Yip superstore, it's certainly off the beaten track and not one you'd easily stumble upon. Nestled on a fairly quiet street (the deliveroo bike parked outside Vnam being the only vehicle - and a reassuring sign I was about to get some good honest grub) the humble exterior didn't prepare me for the colourful hustle and bustle inside.
The smell was incredible
Greeted immediately by one of the Vnam fam, I was seated and presented with a clearly authentic Vietnamese menu. Their no-fuss, rough-and-ready-round-the-edges style makes you feel like you could be sat in a proper caf in Vietnam.
My starter was the recommended Goi Cuon (Fresh Summer Rolls) filled with pork, king prawn, noodles and salad - a healthier dish, I was told, on account of it not being deep fried. There was something a little lacking for me in this one, maybe it was the wrong choice for a chilly evening, or the prawn to greenery ratio was ever so slightly skewed towards the latter. That being said, it was beautifully presented, the king prawns were plump and nicely chilled and it was served with this awesome peanut sauce that gave the rolls that damn good kiss of life they (in my opinion) needed.
Now, on to the Salt & Pepper Chicken Wings (or 'Muoi va hat tieu canh ga' to all you natives out there.) Oh my god...
HIGHLY recommend. New on the menu, the wings are evidently a firm favourite with the regular crowd already (I must have witnessed 5 or more plates of them being delivered to surrounding tables in the hour or so I was there, and it's not a big place.)
The popular Beef Stew was sold out when I arrived, but the Marinated BBQ Pork Fillet (Com Suon Nuong) was pretty spectacular. Tasty on its own, the addition of the fish sauce made it a knock-out choice - and it arrived accompanied by a bed of steamed rice, a small salad and of course that all-important dash of decorative flair.
The Goi Bo (Spicy Beef Salad) I tried next I didn't enjoy as much, but it had a lot to live up to after the pork's prowess and with the addition of the crunchy peanuts and it was nevertheless, very tasty and I'd happily have it again.
Being the sort of person who takes dessert more seriously than politics, I like to have something sweet to finish my meal. There isn't a dessert menu per se, but I had the 'Slow-Dripping Vietnamese Coffee' recommended to me with such enthusiasm that I could hardly say no.
And I was glad that I didn't.
Mmmm. Made with condensed milk and no added sugar and served with a mini coffee filter, this was the absolute cherry on top of a very pleasant meal. It wasn't something I would've normally gone for if I'm honest, but I'd go back just for that.
Unique style, good honest vietnamese fare and surprisingly jam-packed and ambient (especially for a Thursday night) just goes to reflect the quality of the place.
Advice: Book Ahead, Dress Down, Put Your Knife And Fork Away
This is a get-your-fingers-messy kinda place.
They don't sell booze but let you bring your own for a £1.50 corkage fee.
For a starter, main, drink and a coffee (the coffee is essential, trust me you won't regret it) you're looking at just over 15 quid - a pretty reasonable deal for the quality, obvious care taken and presentation.
If you decide to go - hit us up and let us know what you think #lovinmanchester