The Mekong is the name not only of the great river in Vietnam, but of one of London’s oldest Vietnamese restaurants. It’s in Churton Street, and has a few tables upstairs and more downstairs in what were probably once cellars. Vietnamese food is done with such style and attention to taste and balance that it has long been my favourite cuisine.

My dumplings with soya and chilli oil were very good, but easily matched by my companion’s shredded smoked chicken in a light breadcrumb-like coat and with a beautiful dip that left a tang of hotness on the mouth without overdoing it. My main course was chicken sautéed with cashew nuts and pineapple; it came (as always at the Mekong) in an almost plum-like sauce like the one served with fragrant crispy duck. It easily outclassed the sizzling coconut chilled lamb which, despite its name, was surprisingly bland. The onions with it were good, though. The wine was a Stormy Cape 2005 South African Chenin Blanc at 14 percent, from the Coastal Region. It was perfect with the meal.


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