Kingsland Road belongs to the hungry, the casual and those committed to Vietnamese dining; whether that's with a 4-pack of Tyskie (you know how it is), a peach bellini, for drunken dinners or spontaneous post-pub dates, this East London strip has 'em all, including Viet Grill. Found amongst the foodie throngs, I found out how hardy competition and busy tables keep this Kingsland Road restaurant buff as ever.
Be honest, we've all had our mix of restaurants on Kingsland Road; a few mishaps here and a few wall scrapes and testing toilets there, but we just don't care when it comes to affordable Vietnamese dining. However, if you want something a bit more stylised but all the more casual, Viet Grill is likely your best bet. Dotting tables in amongst booming palm prints and subtle neon signage, Viet Grill has gone a little more out of its way to become one of the more decor-destined restaurants on the strip. Mixed with the amorous red lighting and lanterns of the cocktail bar downstairs, Viet Grill has added cutesy and cool about it, without losing its way in becoming a place to hunker down with chopsticks for the night.
The Food and Drink
Viet Grill won't be a restaurant that strictly surprises you in the menu department, but it was a restaurant that confirmed why favourites are favourites, and how classic dishes remain as staples throughout because they work, and not because a menu is lazy. Starting with crab prawn crackers amongst Vietnamese spring rolls (£4.50) and the chilli salt and pepper squid (£8.50), Viet Grill were not only prompt with serving, these plates were the ideal teaser to our mains. Savoury with a rich crisp, the squid didn't need dip thanks to a fleshy glaze, while the spring rolls were almost meaty in texture thanks to a filling that didn't scrimp on the vegetables. While sadly our starter cocktail of 'Em Oi Fizz' didn't land well thanks to a mix of elderflower and fizz that was less tart and more bitter tang, the 'Vijito' with mint frigs and rum was the fresh, passionfruit punch that our starters craved.
I absolutely wanted a curry by this point thanks to the enveloping smell of the restaurant, and wasn't dissapointed by their butterfish with dried tamarind and coconut milk (£11.95) offering. While the coconut milk offset the heat of the red curry perfectly, the the sauce was clearly saturated throughout the fish to create perfectly flaky yet succulent bites alongside a classic egg fried rice. Vegetarian? The okra and aubergine curry with coconut and cardamom (£8) was aptly wolfed down my boyfriend, who while noticing a slight lack of heat, still found the okra a plump addition to a hardy, vegetable curry.
While I know that Kingsland Road is a seriously hard spot to snag a table come 7pm on a Friday, I wasn't expecting Viet Grill to be just so busy. Clearly enjoying an enamored crowd, Viet Grill doesn't retain hustle without the atmosphere, it most definitely was loud and proud throughout, which to be honest was a nice surprise following hardy office drinks. Evidently a favourite on the strip, Viet Grill was a tustle of East London creatives and post-office diners that just wanted booze and bites as soon as they sat down.
Viet Grill, you're gonna go far kid. Great for casual Vietnamese dining and definitely a contender amongst the other Kingsland Road restaurants, Viet Grill's menu is authentic, gives you those ultimate Eastern pangs and promises that latticed spring rolls and squid dishes will always beat the humble pie or the fish and its chips, hands down.