Bite through the golden brown crispy rice paper and sweet, spicy minced pork tumbles into the mouth. It’s so delicious, this Vietnamese Grilled Rice Paper with Minced Pork at An Viet in the Gardens Mall, Mid Valley. You taste dried shrimps in it, and egg and the delicate rice paper crumbles and touches this flavourful filling.
An Viet (“Eat Viet”) is of course about Vietnamese food, and this Banh Trang Nuong is a popular street food in Vietnam. The rice paper is grilled over a slow charcoal fire till crisp and fragrant.
I was amazed by the Xoi Chien Phong or Deepfried Sticky Rice Puff with Green Mango Salad and Grilled Lemongrass Chicken. It’s made with pounded cooked sticky rice, and fried in low temperature, skilfully rolling it in the oil till it becomes a perfect round ball. It’s hollow and crispy, with a tinge of sweetness and pairs wonderfully with the mango salad and lemongrass chicken. I can even eat it on its own; it’s so good.
We had started out with the hot and sour Clams in Coconut Broth. It’s laced with the fragrance of lemongrass and dill, tangy lime juice and a little heat from chilli. It’s soup you would drink to the last drop and I love the sweet clams in it.
A classic Vietnamese starter would be the Spring Roll with Tiger Prawn which bursts with freshness from mint and basil, and the light subtle dip of lime juice, fish sauce, garlic and chilli.
Who could resist pho in a Vietnamese restaurant? Not me. An Viet’s Pho Bo Dac Biet or Vietnamese Beef Noodle Special offers raw beef, beef brisket, shank, tripe, tendon and homemade pure beef balls. The beef balls were not the smooth, bouncy type, but awesome beefy with a meaty texture. The pho broth is lighter and thinner but has layers of flavours from a whole day of simmering beef bones with 18 secret ingredients! Truly one of the best pho I’ve had.
An Viet’s Grilled Lemon Chicken stands out too: the chicken is well marinated and threaded through a stalk of lemongrass which imparts its fragrance to the chicken as it’s grilled. The tender, juicy chicken bursts with flavour.
Hanoi Style Grilled Pork with Vermicelli or Bun Cha comes with a bowl of sliced belly pork patty and radish and carrot pickles in a light, sweet dipping sauce. The vermicelli goes into the sauce and together with the meat, pickles and fresh lettuce make mouthfuls of freshness with delicate nuances.
The Vegetarian Banh Mi or Vietnamese sandwich turned out surprisingly good. The baguette was so light and crispy, the patty was mashed tofu with bits of black fungus and carrot. There was the superb mushroom pate, pickles, fresh vegetables, coriander and Sriracha sauce that made every bite count.
The Hanoian Style Fish with Turmeric and Dill was accompanied by vermicelli and lettuce, together with the nuoc cham dip, much like the Bun Cha. I liked the Bun Cha better.
Lean, clean and delicious is the message An Viet is trying to get across to its diners. Its vision is to use An Vet as a platform to minimise global food wastage. So you have the option to order the portion of vermicelli you can eat, for instance. There are kiddie meals too, served in a sports car!
For something sweet, the Caramel Pudding was smooth and creamy, with just the right bitter sweet caramel. We tried the Viet-ffogato which is condensed milk ice cream with Vietnamese coffee, topped with santan. Yums.
An Viet is at LG 203B, The Gardens Mall, Mid Valley Kuala Lumpur, tel: +603 2201 1191. It’s also at LG2.127 Sunway Pyramid, tel: +603 5611 2226.