Treat Yoself: The Little Viet Kitchen

**Wednesday’s post is now below this one. Apparently something weird was going on, so I re-posted.**

This post was originally going to be about my most recent afternoon tea adventure, but that turned out to be my least favorite of the afternoon teas I’ve had so far. The sandwiches were uninteresting and kind of dry, two of the three desserts were overly sweet (one, I couldn’t even finish). I also had to wait an inordinate amount of time before one of many quick-footed servers whizzing past my table actually paid attention to the pleading expression on my face and brought me my bill. Not the best. But there’ll be others!

Instead, let’s talk about the best Vietnamese meal I’ve had in a very long time. Possibly ever. Let’s talk about Little Viet Kitchen.
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Little Viet Kitchen’s coziness charmed me as soon as I stepped through the door. The person who greeted me was also the one to wait on me, and she was super polite and attentive. In fact, every member of staff that I interacted with (at least three) were great to me from when I walked in until the moment I (reluctantly) left. Their menu isn’t an endless, overwhelming list; I was content with their small variety of permanent choices, plus three specials (1 starter; 2 mains). As far as I’m concerned, that’s all they needed.

While I decided what to order, the waitress brought over a jug of cucumber lemon water for me to sip on.

Mega refreshing.

Mega refreshing.

After browsing the cocktail section, I couldn’t say no to the Pineapple & Lemongrass Fizz. It came to me very simply garnished and with just the right amount of color. I felt kinda sophisticated, not gonna lie.
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As for the food, I chose the Fried Spring Rolls as my starter,

Pork, mushroom, and sweet potato served w/ sweet and sour chilli sauce.

Pork, mushroom, and sweet potato served w/ sweet and sour chili sauce. YUM!

and the braised pork shoulder and golden egg special for my main.
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It came with the perfect portion of rice.

It came with the perfect portion of rice.

Oh. My. GOD. First of all, the spring rolls were beautifully crispy on the outside, and the texture of the combined ingredients was complimented well by the tangy sweet & sour sauce. For the main, shredded braised pork sat in this gorgeous sweet & spicy broth with a few chili shards that spiced it up just enough. And the rice, without a strong flavor of its own, was the perfect neutralizer for the flavor bomb that was the pork shoulder. Hnnnggg. I want more. NOW.

After a crazy delicious main, I sat and admired the low key, intimate atmosphere,
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before choosing the perfect end to my perfect meal. I went with the Chili Chocolate Cake with vanilla ice cream (decorated with what looked like saffron) and mango salsa.
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The “cake” is more like a brownie in taste and texture and SOOOO GOOOD. I actually prefer brownies to cake (as much as I lurrrve cake) so this was a nice surprise. The rich chocolate flavor, smooth, cold vanilla ice cream, and tart mango salsa married wonderfully together. As a good friend of mine says when she has no words for how amazing something is, Wooooooooshhh!

Little Viet Kitchen is a gem. You won’t be disappointed. And if you are, you’re evil and should be shot into space. Just sayin’.
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Luckily, I had a reservation — I watched more than a few people get turned away because the restaurant was thoroughly booked. So make sure you reserve a table before showing up.

Little Viet Kitchen can be found at 2 Chapel Market, London N1 9EZ.

Happy not-Tuesday!

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Snow into Rain

Monday evening, Susan and I went on “A Foodie Themed Christmas Lights Walk.” While we did get to see some lovely light displays, we actually learned more about buildings that house luxury goods and services than I was expecting. Our guide did walk us by some interesting sounding food venues that I hope to try in the near future. (I was actually under the mistaken impression that we’d be stopping at these places and trying food during the tour :/ ) Afterwards, the two of us got drinks (and a burger to placate my angry stomach) at a (noisy) bar, and had a fun chat 🙂 Hooray for meeting web friends in real life!

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Roosevelt and Churchill having a chat

Roosevelt and Churchill having a chat

One of the Paddington bears!

One of the Paddington Bears!

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Last night I was supposed to see Daley in concert. I’d just had a great meeting with my supervisor, so I was feeling pretty good when I got off the tube and onto the street. As I walked toward the venue, it started snowing. I was determined not to get my hopes up and kept insisting it was just (quite a lot of) cigarette ash. But eventually, I chanced a glance upward. Lo and behold: actual snow! Another girl and a guy were sitting outside on a step. The three of us realized we weren’t dreaming at the same time and had a mini freak-out together over the snow. It stopped as I neared the hall where the concert would be. When I got there, the place looked deserted. I was right on time, so I didn’t think they’d started. Besides, it was a little too quiet. I walked up to a sandwich board that said, due to “an unrepairable power cut,” the concert had been postponed.

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So… I headed back toward the tube station. On the way, I passed a dimly lit French restaurant. Since one of the best bummer cures is good food, I stopped in for a solo date.

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Squash Soup

Squash Soup

Duck Breast with Carrot Mash

Duck Breast with Carrot Mash

Tarte Tatin

Tarte Tatin

The food was excellent, as was the service. They even gave me a nip of Bailey’s on the house 🙂 If you’re ever bummed out in Islington (or just hungry), check out La Petite Auberge. I’ll definitely be going back.

It was raining when I left the restaurant. It kept raining until I got home. It seemed like the weather was mimicking my change in mood.

Tomorrow, I’m off to Disneyland Paris! Expect lots of photos next week 😀

Getting the Lead Out

All day Saturday, I stayed locked in my room like the recluse I truly am inside.

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Near the end of the night, I decided to draw up an itinerary for Sunday in order to avoid a repeat. I already had plans to see Jaime perform at Cadogan Hall Sunday evening, so I found a few other things to do to fill my day further (and force myself out of the house earlier).

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I’d heard about Electric Cinema before moving to England and had been anxious to check it out. I can’t say no to any movie-going experience that involves food — REAL food — and alcohol enjoyed in comfy chairs. My matinee movie adventure took place in the Portobello Road location (there’s another Electric Cinema in Shoreditch). I know, I know… I basically moved from one dark room to another. But this one had other people in it, too!

There are three different seating options: armchairs (the most plentiful and least expensive), 2-person sofas (back row of the theatre), and a row of beds for 2 up front. I arrived just in time to get some food and drink from the bar, which is conveniently located in the theatre room. The bar closes when the film starts, so it’s best to get your order in ASAP. I went for the honey fried chicken (delicious), a glass of prosecco, a half-pint of Heineken (to have on hand for later), and an eensy weensy 3.5-4oz cup of salted caramel ice cream. As in any movie theatre, the concessions were hella expensive when added all together, especially when you throw in the cost of an armchair ticket — £15.50 (which is the member price. But for “Electric Sunday” and Monday screenings, non-members also pay this price for an armchair; any other day of the week, non-members pay £18).

The movie I saw was one I hadn’t even heard of until I bought the ticket: Serena, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper as partners (romantic and business) who run a 1920s era lumber company in North Carolina. Serena is a slow burn type of film that uses the bulk of the run-time to build emotional tension and layer upon layer of internal struggle. Bradley Cooper was fantastic. Jennifer Lawrence did all the right things, but for some reason, it’s harder for me to suspend disbelief when she plays a character in a period film. She never quite blends in all the way. When she’s playing a character of her own time (Silver Linings Playbook) or one where there aren’t era rules because the movie’s set in an alternate reality (Hunger Games) she seems more comfortable.

Overall, it was an excellent cinema experience (my chair was sooooo comfortable) — albeit one I can only afford to have twice a year.

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After that, I headed over to Islington to check out a tattoo shop I’ve been wanting to make an appointment at. I’d never been to Islington before. The tiny section I saw of it was lovely.

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On my way to the shop, I walked past the theatre where Edward Scissorhands will be performed (starting today!) until January 11th. I’m on the fence about seeing it. If any of you do, let me know how you liked it!

I didn’t spend much time in Islington because I needed to hightail it over to Sloane Square for the performance of War Requiem at Cadogan Hall. I had actually visited Sloane Square before, years ago… but never at Christmastime.

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I love these decorations SO. MUCH. I actually gasped when I walked out of the train station. I snapped far more photos of this than necessary and totally gave myself away as a non-native, but I don’t care — it’s purdy.

The performance was excellent (awesome job, Jaime!). I’d gone there simply expecting to hear an orchestra play, but there was also beautiful singing from three soloists, a choir of adults, and a children’s choir. The children did so well, and kept their composure throughout the entire performance (pretty impressive for little ‘uns). Jaime details the performance in a blog post. Take a look!

I didn’t see or do as much as I could have Sunday, but I definitely did more than the nothing I did on Saturday. More importantly, I found a few more parts of London that I’m eager to explore. I can’t wait to LIVE there and not have to plan my days around my commute home.

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Later, y’all 🙂