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Quick guide to modern Vietnamese cuisine

Bobby Chinn, chef patron of Soho’s House of Ho, explains what makes his modern Vietnamese style of cuisine unique. Plus: we ask Bobby Chinn about his guilty pleasures, favourite food trends, and the best places to eat out in London.

*Authentic Vietnamese food is diverse, complex and varies greatly. The food we cook at The House of Ho embraces classic Vietnamese dishes with modern twists. For example, pho cuon – rice noodle rolls invented 20 years ago in Hanoi – are traditionally served only with beef; we serve one dish with mushrooms, another with duck confit, herbs and sliced grapes, and another with fish and avocado.

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*Vietnamese ingredients I import include thien ly flowers (heavenly flowers), mangosteen and paddy herbs. Signature dishes include: duck ‘a la banana’ blossom salad with chilli vinaigrette and garnished with peanuts; smoky aubergine, warm scallion vinaigrette with crisp shallots; apple-smoked pork belly, braised cabbage and egg; and lemongrass chicken with a fish caramel sauce.

*I’ve no problem borrowing techniques from other cultures that can impart both a sense of familiarity and an essence of something new. For example, we take a classic pork dish – caramel pork shoulder cooked in a clay pot – and use American BBQ techniques to make it healthier. We brine the pork belly for 24 hours to ensure it retains moisture, then it’s braised in coconut palm sugar (which has a much lower GI) in a high-tech combi oven for 48 hours. It’s then air-dried and cold-smoked in apple so the end product has a subtle flavour with a melt-in-the-mouth texture that is hard to achieve with traditional methods.

*For lunch we serve pho, the nutritious traditional Vietnamese noodle soup topped with a choice of meat, fish or vegetables and accompanied by traditional garnishes – authentic street food straight from Vietnam.

*The dishes are served in a casual ‘banquet style’, as and when they’re ready. There are no starters or mains, just a constant flow of tasting plates.


More from Bobby Chinn

The best thing on my menu is the ‘shaking beef’ (30 day aged grass fed) – it’s such a crowd pleaser. People also like the apple-smoked pork belly with braised cabbage and poached egg.

In my fridge there’s always white truffle oil, saffron, water, chilli sauce, eggs, fish sauce and almond milk.

My most-used cook book is Professional Chef, the professional cookbook by the culinary institute of America. It’s also an app on my phone. It covers everything.

A trend I see sticking around is food that heals – sustainable, organic, tailored for dietary or health needs.

My guilty pleasure is chocolate, just before I go to bed – 80% cocoa.

I love eating out at San Lorenzo on Beauchamp Place, as it serves many fond childhood memories and it’s a place that is special to me.

A place I love that not many people know about is Salloos in Knightsbridge, a Pakistani restaurant that’s 40 years old.

If you gave me a tenner I’d spend it on Maroush’s chicken shawarma with extra, extra garlic sauce.


olive magazine podcast ep65

Janine and Adam gives us their top tips from the test kitchen for injecting some Vietnamese flavour into your next barbecue.


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