Food Review: What comes to mind when one mentions Vietnamese food? Pho? Summer rolls? Well, thankfully there’s places in London that venture beyond the stereotypes with some fabulous street food from Northern Vietnam. What’s more, one of them make a vegetarian version that does not deviate in taste from the original as tried and tested by some of my Vietnamese friends. I only tried two dishes and these were enough to confirm that Nem Nem is a restaurant that I’d definitely return to.
First, I had the Chả Cá Thăng Long (also known as Chả Cá Lã Vọng and Chả Cá Hà Nội) which is a well known dish in Hanoi. This comprises of turmeric marinated fish which is first grilled and then fried table-side. It’s served with tons of fresh dill, chillies, herbs, crushed peanuts, and rice noodles. Here, I had the same but with tofu and marinated with seaweed. I began to truly appreciate how this made me feel like I was eating deep fried fish with its complex, yet well balanced flavours, especially with the strong flavours from the dill balanced with the seaweed.
The next on the menu that I tried here was interesting and something I’d like to make at home when I'm confident. Thịt bò nướng lá lốt or bò nướng lá lốt is a dish consisting of Vietnamese meat in lolot leaves, which are also known as betel leaves. The leaves are used in India to make paan, a digestive snack and have a distinctive taste. To see this being stuffed and grilled was very interesting. I have been told that this is often served during barbecues in Vietnam. Mine were stuffed with tofu and tasted incredible! I thought it was going to have a medicinal aftertaste, but could only find a bold, herby flavour, much to my liking.
This restaurant really opened my eyes to regional cuisines and I hope to try these delicacies in Vietnam one day. Until then, I'm really glad, I have Nem Nem close enough.
Food and drinks with service for two is approximately £35-£45.
My passion for food, particularly trying the vegetarian dishes from different cuisines stems from the advantage of living in London. The diversity here is remarkable. You can head to another part of town and try an authentic dish from a country that is 6000 miles away.