Right around the corner from Covent Garden, Com Viet in is right where you need it to be. Or at least, it was right where I needed it to be.
If you read yesterday’s post, you’ll know that I was delighted to find Floral Court just around the corner from Covent Garden in London, where I rested a travel-weary body and mind.
Com Viet has a “Real Deal” Feel
After my quiet time in the magic courtyard, which capped off a long day of Londoning, I was hungry! And Com Viet was right there, waiting for me, gently beckoning as I slowly wandered toward it. This unassuming Vietnamese restaurant occupies a tiny corner spot, and the building facade somehow manages to broadcast a non-touristy, non-trendy, non-expensive “real deal” authentic feel. You can see it, can’t you?
We hustled in, my Christmas shopping packages and me, earning an immediate greeting from an attentive waiter. Noting my slightly bedraggled state (it was cold! it was damp! I was tired!), the waiter sat me next to a heater with the promise that he’d turn it down if I got too warm. I was immediately in love with the service at Com Viet. Warm, but not too warm. That’s Goldilocks-worthy.
A Tiny Place with a Big Menu
At first glance, the restaurant was tiny, with only a half-dozen tables, but I discovered later that there’s a larger dining room downstairs. The kitchen is down there, too. Downstairs is fancier, but I like the unassuming warm-but-not-too-warm nature of the upstairs dining room.
The Com Viet menu is a little overwhelming, because there’s a lot to check out, and EVERYTHING looks good.
There are also specials on the board.
Tamarind Soup was a Perfect Choice
I needed help to decide, and after learning that I like it spicy, the waiter recommended tamarind soup: it fit my spicy requirement, and sounded like a perfect remedy for the cold and the damp (and maybe even the tired). He encouraged me to have the soup right away while I was thinking about what else to order. What a great suggestion!
My friends, that soup was out-of-this-world good. The broth was so flavor-packed you could trace its family history all the way back to the Renaissance after one spoonful, and the vegetables (okra, bean sprouts, tomato) were so fresh that their mothers probably still thought they were coming home for dinner. Thinly sliced spicy red chili peppers and bits of pineapple complemented a couple of prawns, and the overall impact was a joyful celebration of textures and tastes.
I’ll Have What They’re Having!
I eavesdropped on the folks at the next table to choose my main course. They were talking about the pork something-or-other, and how it was so good that they always had to have it. I’m in! Please bring me what they ordered, I said to the waiter, and he smiled and said, Great choice. It was!
Another joyful celebration of textures and tastes, this dish served up rice vermicelli as a landing pad for two crispy spring rolls and “barbecued” pork loin (more like “charred”, in a good way) that had been marinated in lemon grass. These savory proteins were accompanied by the fresh crunch of daikon, carrots and cucumber. Cilantro and mint were palate-cleansing and aromatic, and there was a piquant fish sauce on the side. Some kind of wonderful crunchiness garnished the pork – maybe fried shallots? The total effect: Yumski!
I’ve had this dish by another name here in the states, and, with no disrespect to my country intended, it just doesn’t compare to the perfection of Com Viet’s delicious offering. The only other Vietnamese food I’ve had that rivals Com Viet’s was at Comptoir Vietnam in Paris. I learned about this fabulous place in a tip from one of The Wonderfuls (a friend I made through the blog) and shared it with you here back in 2018. (Thanks, Ray!)
On My London Recommendations List
As you can probably tell, I was delighted by my experience at Com Viet. It covered all the bases—and then some. It’s one of those restaurants you tell people about: Oh, you’re going to London? Go to Com Viet, just around the corner from Covent Garden!
Going Back, with the Grill-Meister
And so, of course, when the Grill-Meister and I were in London for our anniversary last summer, I had to treat him to a meal at Com Viet. It was great to see it in the daytime.
What to eat?? You can guess what I ordered to start with…it wasn’t cold, it wasn’t damp, I wasn’t tired, but the Tamarind Soup still fit all the requirements. Once again, it was a joyful celebration of textures and tastes!
And yes, my friends, I repeated my main course selection – hey, why mess with a good thing?! It was just as delightful as the first time. The Grill-Meister order a duck dish and some fried rice, and was very happy. He tried to share it with me, but I was all about my BBQ pork.
Folks, this restaurant is a jewel. If you go to London, go to Com Viet. Just trust me. You’ll get your happy back. I did.