What do you get when you take a popular food stall and place it against the backdrop of Manchester’s notorious hipsterhood?
Well, go on a Friday and you’ll get a queue around the block- but, time it right mid-week, and you can avoid the scrum and Nuoc mia-induced fights for a table and enjoy a dignified dining experience (unless you accidentally walk into the bar back room with your skirt tucked into your knickers on the way back from the loos – thanks life).
Viet Shack may not be the first Vietnamese restaurant our city has offered up to us like a steaming hot bowl of pho, but it can certainly take credit for shaping the Vietnamese dining scene and setting the bar high for quality, flavour and presentation.
We arrived on a Thursday evening and were seated straight away, mere steps away from the engineers which cleverly construct every art form which leaves the bustling kitchen.
The menu is vast and plentiful so make sure you order enough to cover the entire circumference of your table, you’ll only regret it if you don’t.
Dishes ordered; Pho, Bánh Mì, Chicken Wings, Broccoli for health…
“…And a side of fries?” I shrugged, returning the menu to our server who smiled and nodded.
“Oh yeah…that’ll be plenty.” She agreed.
Now, let’s get something clear straight off the bat….
Side o’ fries these are not.
An Everest of punchy flavours, smothered in secret sauce and crowned with crackling bites of crispy duck.
Super naughty, filthy even – but really quite exceptional.
The Chicken Wings were presented like the first round of a civilised Jenga tournament.
The succulent bites of meat are kissed with a glorious garlic flavour, light but decadently rich all at once.
Would order by the bucket-full if possible.
The Bánh Mì arrived, a flurry of vibrant colours.
There’s a reason why this champ is the number sandwich in Asia.
Seared rib-eye steak, cooked to absolute pink perfection, pickled carrots and daikons, pork patè, chilli cucumber and garlic soy married together on top of butter toasted bread.
There’s no attractive way to eat this (trust me, I tried), but the most delicious way, is to use your hands and avoid eye contact with all other patrons.
The Asian Broccoli is served charred with Peanut Butter Sauce, Chilli Infused Oil and is quite wonderfully moreish.
The Pho (unpictured) is a filling bowl of lightly fragrant broth, noodles and veg aplenty, it’s the perfect partner to hunker down with during winter and will absolutely certainly get rid of that tickle in your throat.
Stuffed and satisfied, we sat back like the two contented Phat Phucs (don’t be alarmed, it actually means ‘Happy Buddha’ in Vietnamese) we were.
For more pleasant memories of ‘Nam, I urge you to take your appetite to Viet Shack and get acquainted with the entirety of the menu.
The dreamiest spot for a mid-week supper and your next go-to for brunch.
No bookings, but trust me – it’s worth the wait pho sure.