We were at MC's place for dinner one evening when he brought out some Vietnamese noodle soup that he got from a local takeaway. While I didn't get a chance to sample it - the dinner was a spread, Wife kept on telling me how good it was after the meal and I had to ask MC for the contact details just to placate her. MC was traveling then and didn't have the number or the address but he gave us the name - Sen Viet and it's located just next to Thai Aubergine.
When we eventually find Sen Viet along King's Cross Road, its somewhat dismayed facade gave no hint of its clean cut and almost swanky interior (with Mariah Carey's Hero playing in the background) I could hardly be blamed to think that everything looked brand new because they actually are. Barely a month old, Sen Viet was already getting a steady stream of customers, many of whom were first timers.
The staff's service was friendly to a fault. They did their best to strike up a conversation whenever possible. Though LO was a bit grumpy as her nap time beckoned, the staff did their best to placate her and even warned me that their blender was going to be rather loud (making my avocado milkshake no less).
I took a quick glance at Sen Viet's menu and was pleased to note that its prices (£6.50 for a large pho or bun, £4 for a bahn mi) were very reasonable. We didn't have to wait long for our orders to arrive. Wife's bun bo hue (spicy noodle soup) £6.50 came with thick vermicelli noodles in one of those broth with a tinge of spice but a strong heaty aftertaste. I thought that the beef slices could be a bit fresher but Wife was lapping it all up with nothing much praise.
I fell in love with bun when i first had it at Song Que. The Sen Viet's bun thit nuong (rice vermicelli) £6.50 came with chargrilled beef with the elusive 'smoky' aroma. Bits of peanuts added the much needed crunch to the stirred mixed dish. While the dish looked more put together, it lacked the grittiness of Song Que's. Also, I thought that the beef could do with less tenderizer.
We were still feeling a bit peckish after we were done and ordered some crispy rolls (£4). Sen Viet's version came with more generous fillings. I thought it was a bit too densely packed though and the freshness just didn't come through.
A small cup of condensed milk accompanied the hot Vietnamese coffee (£2). It was a bit too thick for our liking so much so that we requested for the coffee to be diluted halfway through. But I was certain that the original concentration would be exactly the way the locals halfway round the world would have liked it.
Sinh to bo (avocado smoothies) £2.50 was an apt round up for the meal. Blended with condensed milk, the smoothie was thick yet not overwhelming, there was also no hint of any crushed ice in the concoction.
Sen Viet was also the first Vietnamese restaurant in London that served a dainty cup of tea at the end of the meal. When asked what it was, a staff grinned and replied that it was 'Vietnamese tea'. A nice touch indeed. Did I mention that Sen Viet is currently offering a 10% discount for students?
Before Sen Viet opening up at King's Cross Road, the nearest decent Vietnamese restaurant from us would be those along Old Street (Cay Tre) and Kingsland Road (Song Que and the lot). We were quite keen on Sen Viet's delivery services initially only to find out that it no longer deliver beyond King's Cross vicinity as 'its driver has left permanently' whatever that meant. Well, until Sen Viet gets a new driver, I guess we would have to make our way down for our pho and bun.
Beside relatively decent fare, Sen Viet's greatest strength would be its ever so friendly service. And I can see us returning repeatedly just because of that. Let's hope that the staff wouldn't get jaded in a hurry.
La Régalade Saint Honoré, Paris
23 hours ago