Vietnamese cooking is made for the New Year and post-festive slump: big on flavour, fresh salads aplenty, and tasty 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.
So far, so January. And handily enough, bang opposite the Forum is this cute Vietnamese streetfood joint run by college friendsDavid and Philip, which finally opened mid last month (and therefore made it into our Top 10 of 2014 by a whisker).
The boys offer sandwiches with a range of different protein fillings such as BBQ pork, lemongrass chicken or garlic tofu to go in a banh mi (the classic Vietnamese baguette). All come with sliced cucumber, pickled carrots and daikon (mooli), spring onions, fresh coriander, a drizzle of soy sauce and house mayo spread, made daily. A handy blackboard on one wall illustrates the healthy range of ingredients in each lunch option. Simple – but appealing.
We’ve been a few times now and love the lemongrass chicken banh mi, which matches melting chunks of meat against a rich pâté and crisp pickled veg (that lend the place its name) and the kick of “Mum’s special recipe” sriracha hot sauce.
Alternatives – and better for those on self-imposed new year’s weight loss regimes – include the lunchboxes, served with salad, peanut sauce, coriander and vermicelli (or rice, if you’re feeling reckless). Crispy honey caramelised pork is a decadent morning treat, while the beef – packed with flavour, yet with a pinkness that’s irresistible – is probably just as sinful.
Really committed dryathlon wannabes will also rejoice over fresh squeezed juices and pleasingly aromatic summer rolls, hand-made every morning with pork, prawns or tofu. On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays you can also warm up with beef or chicken pho noodle soup.
So all in all, C & D is an essential new year pitstop, and easy on the wallet too.