When celebrated chef Anthony Bourdain and then US President Barack Obama casually shared a round of beer and Bún chả in a working-class restaurant in Hanoi in 2016, the world noticed how no-fuss Vietnamese food can be cool and classy just like the two men heartily digging into the six-dollar meal.
The street-smart grilled pork-and-noodle dish, Bún chả, is yet to feature in the menu of Viet-Nom—the latest entrant in Delhi-NCR's rather competitive pan-Asian dining scene. But this brand new restaurant and cocktail bar at DLF Cyber Hub more than makes up for it with an exciting array of smartly done, wholesome bowls assembled from across one of South-East Asia's most exciting gastronomic havens. From bánh mì, pho and sticky rice dumplings to signature dishes like Vietnamese stewed beef (Bo Kho), lemongrass pork skewers (Banh hoi thit nuong),and pancake filled with shrimp and pork (Banh xeo), Viet-Nom packs enough punch and promise to make you want an encore next week.
Viet-Nom is the brainchild of Manish Sharma, a seasoned restaurateur with popular outposts like Molecule and Drunken Botanist under his belt. Viet-Nom marks his foray into premium dining with a specific cuisine, offering a deep dive into the breathtaking culinary history of Vietnam. The menu reflects the extensive journey of food critic Rupali Dean and chef Vaibhav Bhargava across the country where they experimented with eclectic flavours and dishes, from tempura-battered catfish, cassava salad to prawns with garlic sauce, apart from the regulation soup, rice, grilled or steamed meats, vegetable dishes, fresh fruits and salads.
Their refreshing summer rolls in tantalizingly translucent rice paper sheathe seasonal goodness; special shout out to the simple vegetable roll which wraps in coconut mayonnaise, market vegetables, vermicelli noodles, lettuce, avocado, herbs, arugula, mango and peanut sauce. The salmon and avocado is another cool variant in the category. The white rose tim sam is a must try as these soft steamed rice flour dumplings, filled with ground mung beans, crumble in the mouth with a subtle grainy rush. The much-touted char-grilled pork ribs, flavoured in five spice and sesame, is succulent although a bit too oversauced. Other interesting additions include Banh cuon which is made from a thin, white sheet of steamed fermented rice batter and filled with cooked seasoned ground pork, minced wood ear mushrooms, minced shallots, and accompanied by cha lua (Vietnamese pork sausages), sliced cucumber, beansprouts and fish sauce called nuoc Cham. As a fun diversion, don't forget to try their version of crispy pancake served with star fruit and green banana apart from the Vietnamese pizza which has rice crackers topped with egg, pork chorizo, dried shrimps and spring onion. Mains cannot overlook cha ca Hanoi and Vietnamese salman.
With its non-pretentious plating, a chirpy, joyful interior, and a bar counter briskly tossing out cocktails with colourful flora and funky garnishes, Viet-Nom has a feel-good tropicana vibe which doesn't veer away from offering a hearty, decently affordable meal for a gathering of friends and family. The missing Bún chả, waiting in the wings, will complete the picture.