I am new to Vietnamese food, somehow. I pride myself on being adventurous when it comes to food but i’m sad to say that i’m only just branching out of the more common cuisines that I eat so often.
My trip to Melbourne, Australia in January did not really make me love Vietnamese food. A couple of DJs who ran the night that my boyfriend was DJing at took us out to, in their words ‘one of the best restaurants in Melbourne.’ I was excited, especially as when we turned up the place was packed. We sat down in a tiny room upstairs as the downstairs area was full. The restaurant itself was rickety but it reminded me of a little Japanese restaurant that I love in Soho. When the food came I couldn’t believe it – MSG ridden gloop was the only thing on my mind all of the way through. Not a fresh piece of food in sight and all I could do was grin and bear it. Meeting two guys that you have never met before who are both inhaling the food whilst mmmming and aaahhhhing at the ‘amazing food’ – I didn’t have it in me to be rude.
So – when I was invited to Monsieur M, I was looking forward to it because of their pledge to fresh. I arrived on my own to a room of fellow invitees and after talking to Tiki Chris, I sat down next to Neil and Craig for our starters and mains. The ethos of Monsieur M is simple yet effective. Three main courses each day so that they can concentrate on fresh ingredients. We started with vegetable spring rolls, prawn satay and chicken with lemongrass then we were invited to make our on summer rolls. We were given a demonstration and then were let loose on our own creations.
Next came the main courses. We were given a small bowl of each dish so that we could try everything on the menu – a very good idea. First came the pad kraprao nuer (beef stir fried with chilli, basil and bamboo shoots, served on fragrant rice). This was followed by pho gai (Vietnamese chicken soup with rice noodles, fresh herbs, bean sprouts and fried garlic) and gang kiew whan gai (chicken curry with bamboo shoots and red pepper, served over aromatic rice). My favourite had to be the spicy prawn salad that came last.
My one regret is that I didn’t try one of the freshly prepared smoothies or juices that were on the menu. That’s always an excuse to go back though…
I can safely say that Monsieur M has made me want to try more – so much so that I took a trip to Soho (closer for me than Shoreditch) at lunch the next day to get another fix of fine Vietnamese cuisine.
380 Old Street
Tel 020 7613 4094
Nearest tubes: Liverpool Street, Old Street