It was a Saturday lunchtime, my boyfriend had just finished running and he said we should go and get some traditional Vietnamese pho soup. We had just come back from Vietnam the previous week, so their food was still very much in our minds, and we loved having pho almost every day in Vietnam. I googled where we could go and get pho in Central London. Three restaurants came up when I googled Vietnamese food in central London, and we had already been Pho and Cay Tre, so we decided to try something else, the restaurant Com Viet in Covent Garden.
Com Viet is located on Garrick Street, in between Covent Garden and Leicester Square, on a corner, and it has a few seats upstairs and apparently most of the seats downstairs. We did not see the downstairs area, as the restaurant was absolutely empty when we arrived and obviously we were seated upstairs as the first customers to lure other customers in (which we managed to do as by the end of our meal, there was another couple in the restaurant). The atmosphere because of this was really bad, there was way too much attention on us from the waitress who kept looking at us and trying to see if we needed anything and it was just too quiet in the restaurant.
The menu however really impressed us. It had a lot of the traditional Vietnamese dishes we had had in Vietnam, from north, south and centre of Vietnam, so I was very happy with that. As our starter we ordered Banh Xeo, which was one of the favourite discoveries of Vietnamese dishes for us, and which literally means “sizzling cake” but is a Vietnamese savoury fried pancake made out of rice flour, water, turmeric powder, stuffed with slices of fatty pork, shrimp, diced onion and bean sprouts. In Vietnam we ate these pankakes wrapped in rice paper with mint, coriander, bean sprouts and dipped in a sauce, and here at Com Viet they gave you lettuce leaves instead of rice paper, which I read some regions of Vietnam also do. I was extremely impressed with this Banh Xeo, and it was almost as good, if not as good as the ones we had had in Vietnam. Also what I liked was that they gave you a lot of greens (mint, coriander, beansprouts) to add to your wrap, which is very traditional. It was absolutely delicious and reminded us of our great meals in Vietnam.
As for my main course I went for Bun Bo Hue, which is a spicy version of the traditional Vietnamese soup Pho, and comes from Hue, a city in the middle of Vietnam. It was huge when it arrived and I could not finish the whole thing and I thought the flavour and taste of the broth was delicious. I thought my boyfriend’s chosen soup, Pho Ga, or the traditional Vietnamese Pho soup with chicken, Viet basil, saw-leaf & Bean-sprouts was better though. Once again it was a huge portion and it was exactly like the chicken Pho soups we had in Vietnam, tasty, delicious broth, chicken pieces and rice noodles and just like in Vietnam they brought you a plate of chillies, lemon, beensprouts, mint and coriander that you could add to your soup if you wanted to.
I thought the food at Com Viet was great, very traditional, and almost the same, if not the same as the food you get in Vietnam, but the problem was the extremely bad atmosphere. We went there on a Sunday lunchtime though, maybe during the evenings it is better.
Date: 15/ 09/ 13
Location: Covent Garden
Price for 2 people, no alcohol and service charge: £33