Viet Kitchen (Lunch Set)

Viet Kitchen (Lunch Set)

Where:
Viet Kitchen (fuck yeahhhh functional website.  WITH MENUS. VIET KITCHEN, I’M CRYING HERE)
Lobby, Nexxus Building
41 Connaught Road, Central
Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2806 2068 (but they will only take lunch bookings for more than six people)

Price:
HKD98 for the starter and main lunch set. +HKD22 for the drink. After service charge, out at HKD120 a person.

The deal:
Chef Peter Cuong Franklin, previously of Chom Chom fame, has set up Viet Kitchen at the Nexxus Building (near the Hang Seng Building / walkway through Central Market).  I gotta make a FYN confession, I never went to the new Chom Chom even though everyone was losing their shit over it. This is because my kindred soul mate in nom, Ms Two Serves, went a few times and I was on the receiving end of several emotional whatsapp outbursts about her fuck no experiences which really just consisted of about 20 messages saying “Whyyyyyy?”, interspersed intermittently with “So salty” and “Pho Cheung Fan Rice Rolls??”.  Add in the hordes of people and the inability to book and I wrote Chom Chom off entirely. Chef Franklin is no longer at Chom Chom and he has since opened the substantially sized Viet Kitchen.  I decided to try it because I was looking for somewhere new for lunch with minimal drama in Central because I just find eating lunch in Central to be such hard fucking work.  As you can’t book Viet Kitchen, I aggressively implored my fellow lunch homie to leg it down Des Voeux Road with me as close to 12pm as possible because Viet Kitchen won’t take bookings for tables of less than six people.  Yasss bish ruuuun:

totororunbitchrun

Luckily the most cardiovascular exercise I’ve had in weeks gave me more tangible results than the gym ever did because we walked straight into getting a table.  I’ll note though that I found myself back at Viet Kitchen within the week and without the Des Voeux Noonday Dash ahead of the lunch hordes, we arrived at around 12:30pm and we only had to endure a relatively short 10-15 minute wait for a table.

One thing that I’m giving a major FUCK YEAH for Viet Kitchen’s proposition is that they are gunning to be an efficient as fuck lunch joint and it’s clear that their speedy wait times are no accident.  You are able to select your lunch from a clipboard while you wait and as soon as you sit down, your entrees are practically upon you.  The restaurant itself isn’t the size of a postage stamp and seats over 80 people meaning they can pack the masses in.  The lunch menu is straightforward with minimal options and no one has to verbally take your order – meaning that your lunch inputs are fed straight into the Viet Kitchen Lunch Machine and it’s barely minutes before your entrees are being served up to your table.  The staff are efficient and on their shit which means fuck yeahhhhhhhhhhh, supreme lunch efficiency!

For starters there’s a four choices – deep fried lemongrass silken tofu, caramel chicken wings, the Vietnamese soft spring roll stuffed with sole or a green papaya and mango salad.  But lolz, as if I was ever gonna get some sad ass papaya salad when there was deep fried, caramel chicken wings on offer.  The chicken wings are fucking awesome and Viet Kitchen will give you three pieces.  Slightly spicy but with a warm, caramel and garlic flavour. Obviously I could have eaten nine but I’m not known as the Angel of Chicken Death for nothing.  On another return visit I ordered the deep fried lemongrass silken tofu which were a small, though fuck yeah starter.  One of my lunching homies decided to respect himself and made the sensible choice and got the salad, which came with an extra serve of sadness on the side.  He barely touched his healthy as fuck salad, while he longingly stared at my golden cubes of deep fried tofu.  Face facts homies, good decisions never ever start with forsaking fried chicken for salad.

wayansbaddecision

I’ve tried two mains at Viet Kitchen now. The first time, I went for the traditional Saigon Beef Pho, billed as beef broth, medium rare beef, slow roasted brisket and rice noodles.  Viet Kitchen’s Pho has been quite the source of consternation on OpenRice (lolz) with crying faces all over the shop.  I’m not gonna declare it to be the best pho in HK nor am I gonna be an asshole and compare it to some hole in the wall pho joint that you’ve most definitely never heard of in Vietnam, but it was a solid fuck yeah and I enjoyed it.  Sure, I could have done with more beef and I’m always into getting beef balls and tripe as well in my pho.  I also would have preferred a firmer noodle with more bite vs the softer “hor fun” style noodle that Viet Kitchen used, but that’s HK Pho Life for you. You can add another HKD28+ to upgrade to the large bowl but I’m a greedy fucker and the normal size bowl was perfectly fine by me. Overall, the pho was solid lunch time fare but I wasn’t overwhelmed by unbridled fuck yeah emotions.

On my return visit, I got involved with probably one of my favourite sandwiches of all time, the majestic Banh Mi (Tiệm Bánh Mi Phương, I still burn for you, my love, my fire, my carb based desire).  Viet Kitchen aren’t fucking about and will send you straight to my favourite destination, CARB TOWN, loading up their banh mi with a side of lightly spiced french fries and sweet chilli ketchup.  Rules to live by:  Carb life = best life. Viet Kitchen lets you choose from three types of banh mi – The Pork Experience, Wok Fried Lemongrass Beef, and Turmeric and Dill Sole Fillet.  I ain’t got time for that new age banh mi bullshit so of course I went in for The Pork Experience.  As I’ve had so many sub-standard banh mis in HK I wasn’t exactly holding my breath, steeling myself for fuck no sandwich related disappointment.

But whoa, surprise on the upside cause fuck yeahhhhhh this was probably the best banh mi I’ve had in HK.  First of all, the French baguette they use is a fuck yeah because it’s crisp as fuck but not so crunchy that your mouth ends up being carved up into a mess by razor sharp shards of crust.  There’s a good amount of bread in proportion to the ingredients and they haven’t just packed it with low cost carrots to make up for actually giving you meat.  The pork banh mi is stuffed with thin caramelised pieces of pork belly, slices of Vietnamese pork sausage, pickled carrots, daikon and cucumber and fresh coriander.  To bring it all together, there’s a good smear of pork liver pate and sriracha mayo.  Yassssssssssss, sriracha, pork and bread based feelings followed by a french fry chaser is the sort of fuck yeah lunch time experience that I can wholeheartedly get my greedy carb loving ass behind.

It’s HKD22 to add a drink to your lunch and while there’s the bog standard options of canned soft drinks there’s also some of my favourite fuck yeah Vietnamese options – fresh lime soda, salted lime soda, Vietnamese iced coffee and Vietnamese iced tea.  I’m all about the Vietnamese iced coffee and Viet Kitchen’s  is a fuck yeah – strong, punchy black coffee being sweetened just enough from the condensed milk.  Fuck yeahhhh, just add a shot of Kahlúa and vodka and I’d happily drink these til I lost all sensation in my face.

If you wanted to, I think you could easily be seated and out of Viet Kitchen within half an hour.  However, despite the demand for tables though, our waiters were polite and never hassled us to leave before we were ready.  The good news is that even if you can’t be fucked braving the lunch time crowds and dealing with the table palaver, you can always just get a FUCK YEAH banh mi from their Viet Baguette take-away counter.  I’m not sure how big the non-lunch or weekend crowds are for Viet Kitchen considering its location is in the middle of Central not near the restaurants of Soho etc, but I know that Viet Kitchen is giving it a red hot go to be a bar/drinks venue as well.  Not sure how that’s going to go for them but fuck, systematic and organised lunch service gets a FUCK YEAH from me.

Verdict:
Fuck yeahhhh to efficient as fuck, affordable and tasty lunch sets. Make dat lunch money Viet Kitchen, you efficient restaurant homies most def deserve it.

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