Not a world away from the real deal, this new little gem in NanCheng only opened on April 23rd, offering Vietnamese favourites as well as more modern dishes that still possess the same fresh, vibrant flavours that the country’s culinary delights are known for. Jodie Frain writes.
Situated in the lively part of NanCheng’s shopping area, opposite One Mall, the restaurant greeted me with a large emerald neon sign, complemented by green dining furniture placed in the al fresco seating area. Lights were suspended low in the outdoor area above the tables, offering an industrial edge. The restaurant review occurred at an ideal time as only one month ago I was sat in Vietnam taking advantage of the local food and coffee.
Stood before me was the owner of the restaurant, Sebastien Chau, welcoming the team and I with open arms. We chose to sit inside the restaurant, at one of the larger tables with comfortable banquette seating. Seb was quick to ask what we all wanted to drink – to keep things simple we ordered a round of beers. Following this he made his way to the kitchen after recommending several dishes (starters and main courses) from the menu.
Born in France, the man behind the magic brought his knowledge of Vietnamese and Asian culture and food, taught to him by his parents who were from Hong Kong. Seb’s mother – who sadly passed away last year – handed down to him one of the best beef broth recipes known to man, and this fuelled Seb’s dream to open a restaurant selling quality South Asian food.
Prior to the restaurant opening, the inception of Seb’s own French imported bakery franchise named ‘L’Origine Parisienne’ took place along with Seb’s father and business partners, which led to the unveiling of two bakeries in Guangzhou (TianHe and HaiZhu district). The business transpired and French breads were introduced and distributed to Wuhan, Qingyuan, Wenzhou, Dongguan; and hopefully more to come.
One of the more popular dishes on the menu at the restaurant is naturally the Yuebei Phô – a Vietnamese noodle soup that comes from North Vietnam, (that explains the Chinese name Yue Bei) consisting of rare and cooked slices of beef, meatballs made from beef, beef tendons, rice noodles called bánh phở, herbs, and of course the speciality beef broth. What’s so special about the beef broth you might ask? Well, aside from using beef bones and roasted onions for a real, rich, meaty flavour, the broth is also simmered for more than ten hours. This – I believe – was certainly obvious in the tasting. I particularly enjoyed the pungent hit of coriander which replicates that of an authentic Vietnamese Phô. Those who know Vietnamese food will be quick to compare their experiences with Phô to this version, but rest assured they won’t be disappointed.
Ban Cuon is another dish that has sparked interest and consists of steamed rice ravioli stuffed with mushrooms, carrots, pork and Vietnamese mortadella. Amongst the dishes placed in front us included delicate little fish cakes that were so deliciously light that it would have been sinful not to go back for a second – third and fourth.
Crispy Vietnamese spring rolls presented a warming surprise inside, bursting with flavour. My favourite mouthful of the evening was definitely my first taste of the beef brisket curry, aromatic and creamy, and even better when eaten alongside the sticky rice. A great curry oozing with fresh flavours and sticky rice, washed down with a cold beer – what more could you ask for?
Rich, velvety and sweet, an authentic looking – and tasting – Vietnamese coffee ended the dining experience perfectly. Seb’s knowledge and passion for food and hospitality was obvious, and I thought it particularly admirable that he was open to criticism and feedback in order to ensure amazing food and happy customers. Authenticity, quality and hospitality are at the heart of this establishment. So whether you’re a connoisseur of Vietnamese food or you have never tried it before – what are you waiting for?
Address for 越北牛肉粉 (Vietnamese Restaurant):
Dongguan City, NanCheng district, First International Business Centre, Shop No 1027.
A very short walk from Hong Fu Lu subway/metro station. Corner’s Deli is just around the corner.