'Soaked in a secret mix of ten spices for ten hours, these little red balls are a must-try'


Open Mon–Thu midday–3pm and 6pm–10.30pm; Fri midday–3pm and 6pm–11pm; Sat midday–11pm and Sun midday-10.30pm

The blurb

On a sunny evening in May, after a glass of wine on Exhibition Road, we headed back past South Kensington station, passing the flash cars lounging in the Lamborghini show room and the red velvets in the window of the Hummingbird Bakery, and found the tucked-away new restaurant of award-winning chef Jeff Tan. After the phenomenal success of his Soho eatery Vietfood, this is where Tan has opened his new flagship high-end Vietnamese restaurant, Go-Viet.

The style

As you walk through the door you’re greeted by an army of staff, equipped to cater to your every need.

The sleek, welcoming booths are kept intimate with low-hanging Asian style lamps and accentuated with no-fuss miniature flower arrangements and beautifully minimalistic plates covered in a gold-leaf tree design. The upstairs booths are perfect for cosy groups of two or four, with a larger space downstairs to seat bigger parties.

The crowd

On a Monday night there was a steady flow of your typical upper class Kensington crowd dining in (and some collecting takeaways). Fabulously dressed Asian women catching up in pairs, London-based Americans with designer handbags and flashy rings, and—most importantly—no noisy children. Book in the babysitter and leave the kids at home for this one.

The food

While we pondered the menu, our waiter brought over two small cups shaped like flawlessly white eggs with the top cracked off, each balancing a little taster to whet our appetites for what was to come.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed or spoilt for choice when first looking at the menu, but the staff were exceptionally knowledgeable and happy to suggest dishes, as well as being incredibly accommodating in helping to find me the perfect coeliac-friendly, gluten-free meal.

We started with the Inspired Seafood Salsa and a plate of gluten-free rice paper rolls, filled with raw vegetables, lettuce and prawns and a selection of dipping sauces.

For mains my dining partner went for the Wok Stir Fried Beef, the smell of which made our mouths water, while I was presented with two gluten-free dishes to try: a wonderful sweet and salty blend of squid and scallops mixed with chunks of pineapple, and a spicy prawn and tofu dish. We mixed and matched our mains with sides of stemmed rice and a plate of greens.

Throughout all this, we worked our way through a bowl of what I feel is best described as pure magic. An entrée called Bí Mật Tomato, it may sound simple when I say that it’s a bowl of skinned tomatoes, but I’ve never tasted flavour like this in my life. Soaked in a secret mix of ten spices for ten hours, these little red balls bursting with character are a must-try. The waiter explained that they translate to ‘Mystical Tomatoes’, which is definitely an accurate description.

Finally, the desserts tempted us despite ourselves; I’m a sucker for crème brûlée and my partner was intrigued by an option named Shades of Green.

The ‘Go’ Brûlée came in a sweet china bowl with a little lid and, as a pleasing summer twist, was infused with lemongrass. This made it really refreshing and not as overpoweringly sickly as some brûlées can be. Shades of Green, meanwhile—a great choice if you’re after an authentic Vietnamese sweet—was presented in the most magnificent way. The liquid dessert filled a coconut shell nestled in a playful wooden nest structure, and tasted like heaven.

As our evening drew to a close we met Jeff Tan, the chef—a real treat after enjoying his superb cooking—so we were able to sing the meal’s praises in person.

The drink

A great selection of cocktails, wine and beers are available. Starting with a Lychee Martini (always a favourite), I followed it with a dry white wine suggested by our waitress to complement my seafood mains. My partner opted for the Vietnamese beer Saigon.

In a nutshell

My main piece of advice is: go hungry! Take your time and enjoy the menu. With so many incredible flavours to sample it’s entirely possible you’ll get a little carried away, as we did, with eyes far bigger than your stomach.

My second piece of advice you can perhaps guess: order the Bí Mật Tomato and embrace the mystical flavours! You’ll never be able to recreate this at home.

We’d also recommend choosing at least one dish with scallops in. They’re cooked to absolute perfection.

Finally, chat with the staff. They were all so incredibly lovely, with really interesting stories to tell and an extensive knowledge of the food.

The details:

Go-Viet, 53 Old Brompton Rd, Kensington, London SW7 3JP; 020 7589 6432; www.vietnamfood.co.uk/go-viet

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