UPDATE: Viet-Hue Kitchen is temporarily closed for business.
I enjoy Vietnamese cuisine but have found it tough to find a place in Bangkok that offers authentic dishes that don’t also break the bank. It’s not uncommon to pay over 200 baht for a bowl of phở or a simple bánh mì sandwich–and it’s not unusual to be disappointed with what you receive. But the challenge of finding real Vietnamese food and wallet friendly prices here in Bangkok disappeared for me when I discovered Viet-Hue Kitchen (official Facebook page).
Their menu was posted outside and I was first struck with the range of authentic Vietnamese items they have, along with the how inexpensive the items were. I had my concerns–you get what you pay for, right? But I put caution aside and gave it a chance. I’m so glad I did, too.
Let’s get straight to the feast, shall we?
Viet-Hue Kitchen serves authentic Vietnamese dishes that are priced so reasonably you’ll have no problems ordering a variety of dishes to enjoy. There’s also a lot on the menu so it’s kind of tough NOT to order a bunch of dishes.
Loads of flavor here…
As an appetizer, this Nem Nướng (150 baht) dish is fantastic (if you add some noodles with it you’ve basically got a meal). This is one of the most popular dishes. There is so much flavor here–and it’s a fun dish to eat. It’s basically a do-it-yourself spring roll.
Take the lettuce and rice paper sheet (making sure the lettuce softened the sheet) and add a round sausage ball. Then take some of the condiments (cucumber, green banana, spicy red chili (careful!), garlic, and starfruit) and add what you like. Fold it all up and then drizzle the thick sauce (peanuts, chili, and toasted sesame seeds). Yum!
I wanted to try something new for me so I ordered the Bánh Cuốn (100 baht). It’s made with minced pork and mushrooms, filled into rice batter wrappers and topped with fried shallots. It’s delicious especially when dipped in the sweet and sour sauce. What was also a treat for me is that this dish comes with authentic Vietnamese sausage! More about that later…
A must have…
When visiting Vietnamese restaurants I always look for these. The Chả Giò (120 baht) at Viet-Hue Kitchen are fantastic! The skin of these fried spring rolls have that perfect crispy and chewy texture and the minced pork filling is delicious, too. These are so delicious when piping hot and dipped in the sauce with a bit of shredded carrot. I highly recommend them!
I discovered this dish when visiting Ho Chi Minh City and it’s one of my favorite Vietnamese dishes. It’s basically slices of tender seasoned beef (or pork) rolled up in lá lốt leaves (also known as betel leaves). With this appetizer (or meal dish) you simply roll up the meat with some noodles, shredded carrot, and drizzle sauce on it. The leaves have a slightly bitter/medicinal taste but the dish itself is well balanced with salty, sweet, and sour flavors.
This dish reminds of of the Korean bibimbap. It’s the perfect meal. It’s loaded vegetables (shredded carrot, cucumber, basil leaves), protein (tender pork, crushed peanuts), and vermicelli noodles. Underneath all of that is a sweet/sour sauce that you can mix it all up with.
I’d best mention the Phở…
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the phở. Amongst foodies in Bangkok I think phở is just about as contested as khao soi. Folks are passionate about both dishes regarding the taste and the price–but I think all can agree that there’s no comparison in what we can get here in the Big Mango and what we can find in Vietnam. Simply put–for amazing phở at ridiculously cheap prices you HAVE to go to Vietnam.
That being said, Viet-Hue Kitchen offers a pretty solid Phở Bò (100 baht) at a very good price (for Bangkok). They make it phở tài style, that the meat is sliced thin and raw before put in the soup (the hot soup cooks it), and the broth is more herbal. They also use the thicker noodles which have a bit of chew (as opposed to some places that use skinny vermicelli noodles).
Another stand out here, as that they actually have Vietnamese coriander. You’ll find this leaf to not be as lemony as Thai or Western coriander–rather it has a strong bitterness and tastes a bit like white pepper.
A dish fit for a President!
Former U.S. President Obama was quite popular, but he’s the only President that has a Vietnamese dish named after him. I was surprised last year when I visited Hanoi and found signs for Bún Chả Obama. It all stemmed from President Barack Obama’s dinner with Anthony Bourdain in which he was introduced to Bún Chả. He seemed to enjoy it and the restaurant capitalized on it by adding his name to the end of the dish!
So if you visit Hanoi, you’ll find this popular North Vietnamese dish all over the place. But you’d be very hard pressed to find it in Bangkok–unless you go to Viet-Hue Kitchen!
The Bún Chả Obama (150 baht) dish is made with sweet pickled radish and carrot, minced pork patties, and thin slices of pork. The broth is dominated by sweetness, which you can doctor with chilies, lime, and lots of herbs. The soup is served with lettuce leaves and a plate of vermicelli noodles. I recommend watching the video to see how it’s eaten!
A chat with the owners…
I had the good fortune to chat with Viet-Hue Kitchen owners, Somsak and Noppasorn. Somsak is originally from Nakhon Phanom (his family immigrated from Huế, Vietnam) and Noppasorn is originally from Phuket.
Viet-Hue Kitchen celebrates is 10 year anniversary this month as they opened their doors in May, 2008. They specialize in dishes that are family Huế “old style” recipes, though there are also specialty dishes from Northern Vietnam on the menu.
Viet-Hue Kitchen strives for authenticity!
One thing that sets Viet-Hue Kitchen apart from many other places that serve Vietnamese cuisine in Bangkok is that they really strive to work with authentic and fresh ingredients. Rather than buying imported Vietnamese sausages that are wrapped in plastic, they prefer to get the sausages wrapped in banana leaves direct from their distributor in Vietnam. The banana leaves add a subtle flavor difference.
What looks very promising, and something I intend to try soon is their Bahn Mi Pa Te (90 baht). There’s so many reasons I am excited to try this and feel it’s worth mentioning. They use baguette style bread, the Vietnamese sausage is authentic, Viet-Hue Kitchen makes their own pâté, and finally it’s 90 baht. I predict another visit in the near future.
I’m hungry. Where is it?
Viet-Hue Kitchen is located on Soi Naradhiwas between Sathorn and Silom (closest). It’s an easy walking distance from the Chong Nonsi BTS station.
There’s a couple of tables outside, but most of the seating is inside. They have an even mix of Thai and Foreign customers, and can be popular during the lunch period.
I would highly recommend Viet-Hue Kitchen for folks looking to get some good Vietnamese food at a great price–don’t expect candles on the table, or romantic ambience. It’s just good food, service, and value that will fill your belly without breaking your wallet. You’ll find Somsak and Noppasorn to be very welcoming as well, and Somsak is happy to walk you through the menu.
I’d love to hear your feedback if you go!