Vietnamese food is a wonderful thing. It’s not as reliant on the deep fryer as Chinese. Instead of the sweetness of Korean gochujang sauce, you get the salty tang of fish sauce and the tartness of lemon. And herbs. Plenty of fresh herbs. Thanks to my grandmother, I grew up eating Vietnamese food. So I have to admit that I approached Salvation in Noodles with a bit of skepticism. Trendy Dalston Vietnamese joint? As if! But I was pleasantly surprised, mostly with the quality of the starters! We started off light with the classic prawn summer roll. It looks a bit limp here but it tasted fresh – and there was a decent sprinkling of fresh herbs.
Onto the Vietnamese fried pork spring rolls. Interesting presentation – lab dissection style. The outside was perfectly crispy while the pork had a really nice flavour, complimented by the fish sauce dip.
Vietnamese chicken salad starter – again I appreciate the monstrous rice cracker protruding from the small bowl but it didn’t really add anything in terms of taste. A light, refreshing starter – not too salty or overloaded with fish sauce.
Which leads me to this – the deep fried chicken wings. OH MY WORD. I have to preface this by saying that my spirit animal is a bucket of fried chicken. These are a must-order – perfectly crispy and seasoned to perfection. Again with fish sauce. We ordered another round of these.
By the time the mains arrived, I was on my way to feeling pretty stuffed. Not helped by the fact that I had just returned from a holiday where I had doubled in size. The pho had a flavourful broth and the noodles were nicely cooked and not overdone. But I wasn’t blown away. Even though pho looks pretty simple to prepare, it’s actually very difficult to get right. My mom actually starts making the broth the day before, so it’s no surprise that a lot of restaurants struggle with recreating that rich, complex full-bodied flavour.
This was the clear winner of the night – Bun vermicelli noodles with Vietnamese pork sausage patties, herbs, salad and fish sauce. SO GOOD. I wish I had ordered this one. It came with a generous helping of coriander but almost too much vermicelli? I might be splitting hairs here but when you mixed everything together – the noodles took over. As vermicelli is quite tasteless on its own, I was left with a heaving bowl of noodles. Seriously, there was enough to fashion a vermicelli wig.
The Bun Vermicelli noodles with prawn were tasty but nothing to write home about. If you’re on the fence about what to order, I would definitely recommend ordering the Bun Vermicelli noodles with pork over the prawns.
Update: Salvation in Noodles has finally opened their new outpost down the street from us in Finsbury Park at 2 Blackstock Road, N4 2DL. Next to a chicken shop, of course. I think every shop or restaurant in this area is mentored by a chicken shop – I can even see a chicken shop from my front window. Added bonus? It happens to be around the corner from our favourite Korean restaurant, Dotori. The Asian food situation in Finsbury Park can really only go up from here.
SIN (Salvation in Noodles) 122 Balls Pond Road London N1 4AE