[Manchester, Ancoats] Vnam Cafe
There’s a fair few east asian businesses that have grown up around the Wing Yip supermarket on Oldham Road. The Vnam Cafe is one and it does exactly what it says on the tin – it’s a caff and it’s Vietnamese. It’s not a cuisine I have experience in but, as far as I can tell, it’s making a stab at doing a decent job.
Summer rolls were soft and unctuous. Spring rolls were crisp and delicious. Both were helped along by a dipping sauce of very pokey red chilli, fish sauce and a sprinkling of peanuts. But the third of the starters was, perhaps, the star - six mini rice cakes, served hot and topped with a prawn and a little chilli and mint.
Pork featured on all three main course plates. Two of us went with the BBQ belly pork with noodles and the other for the version with fillet and rice. All three were fine, bearing in mind we’re talking caff food here, although the meat was a little dry. Nice topping of crushed peanuts on the meat. Everything nicely arranged on the plate with a little herb salad alongside the meat and carb. A slightly different fish sauce based, erm, sauce was served in a little bowl – pouring it over the plate seemed a better idea than keeping it as a dipping sauce.
It’s certainly a place I’d pop into for lunch if I was about to shop at the Wing Yip, but I’m not sure I’d cross the city centre for it. About a tenner a head for the two courses and a drink.
They do a fairly good pho as well. Variety and generosity of herbs a little lacking, and they don't do rare beef, but the stock is usually good and the noodles nicely cooked.
They're also quite handy with the grill. I've had chicken and quail in there with moist flesh and properly crispy skin.