Ancoats is fast becoming the go-to place in Manchester to get your authentic Vietnamese food fix, with various purveyors of pho, traditional coffee and other specialities of Vietnam – but popular Vnam is one of the pioneers, having set up shop on Oldham Street back in 2010.
Vnam just list “famous traditional Vietnamese noodle soup”, but we can all spot a proper pho when we see it: “flat rice noodles in a hearty broth” are the giveaway ingredients. Simmered for hours, the basic stock is scented with cinnamon, cloves, coriander and star anise, has your choice of meat dropped in and is then topped with beansprouts, spring onions and fresh coriander before being served suitably steaming. At Vnam, a vegetarian version of the aromatic broth is slipped with stir-fried tofu for a plant-based plate; prawn and pork dumplings are added to a seasoned chicken broth for a wan ton variation. There are other soups too, but equally there are dry noodle dishes (including marinated and grilled chicken leg) and rice dishes (including BBQ lamb chops sprinkled with spring onions) a-go-go. The Vnam specials, meanwhile, include crispy battered salt and pepper squid and tamarind soft shell crab; and don’t leave without tasting the rice paper fresh summer rolls or the steamed mussels, a real house speciality and a staple of the menu since day one.
Par for the course with this cuisine, sweet treats aren’t an after-dinner thing – instead, fill up on sides like cool lotus salad and crunchy pak choi, and wash things down with a refreshing mint tea or a Vietnamese iced coffee. Your waistband will thank you.