The idea of starting up a Vietnamese deli came about from my love of the food, which started from a very young age. My mother was born and raised in Vietnam and I grew up on her amazing dishes at home.
There really is nothing better in the world than a home-cooked meal, made fresh to order whenever you want it, and that’s what our new business – named Carrots & Daikon – is going to be all about.
We want to recreate and share those homely flavours at our deli, which is on schedule to open in early December, in a part of London where it feels like Vietnamese food is almost non-existent.
After a long search, my business partner Philip and I finally found this location in Kentish Town just opposite the Forum, formerly known as Joe’s Chicken. We’ve grabbed the opportunity with both hands and now we are busy (very busy!) living the dream.
Philip and I are both British-born Chinese and have been friends since college. We’ve worked in fashion and I’ve also had experience in food retail, whilst pursuing my own business ventures too: a market stall selling gourmet popsicles and oriental iced teas in Camden Lock Market, which I’ve run for the last three summers.
So what’s on the menu? It’s going to be very simple: everything is homemade and cooked to order. We’ll offer a range of different protein fillings such as BBQ pork, lemongrass chicken or garlic tofu to go in our banh mi (the classic Vietnamese baguette).
These come with sliced cucumber, pickled carrots and daikon (mooli), spring onions, fresh coriander, a drizzle of soy sauce and our house mayo spread, that we make daily.
If you don’t feel like eating bread then we’ll do a Vietnamese lunchbox with either bun (rice noodles) or rice, the same fillings as the baguettes, plus a side of mixed salad with a chilli fish dressing.
If you want something hot then our classic beef or chicken pho (noodle soup) should do the trick. And finally, our summer rolls will be hand-rolled every morning before opening, with pork, prawns or tofu.
Vietnamese cooking is big on flavour, big on fresh salads and big on noodle soups. Unlike many other Asian cuisines, it doesn’t rely too heavily on oil or fried dishes for flavour. In fact, it’s often considered the healthiest food in the world: the perfect balance between fresh herbs, meats and carbohydrates.
That means vitamins and minerals in abundance, a boost to the immune system and energy for the day ahead.
Philip and I believe that Vietnamese cuisine is going to be the next big thing in UK, having seen how Korean food has exploded here recently. We hope to prove that when open in early December.