Six by Nico: Vietnamese Street Food
It doesn’t seem that long since we last ventured to Six by Nico, largely because it isn’t. Due to the vagaries of multiple calendars, we ended up booking to go on day 2 of the newest menu which was taking us to Vietnam.
I’m a huge fan of eastern flavours, and have to admit I was pretty excited to try the Six by Nico take on some of my favourite Vietnamese street food style dishes, I mean check out this menu!
- SPRING ROLL – Rice Paper / Crayfish & Crab / Vietnamese Herbs
- PHO – Chicken ‘Noodles’ / Tiger prawn / Aromatic Broth
- CHÁO VIT – Rice Porridge / Duck / Peanut / Mooli
- SEA BREAM – Rice noodles / Mango / Squid
- CLAYPOT PORK BELLY – Pak Choi / Water Chestnut / Coconut Rice / Pineapple
- VIETNAMESE COFFEE – Condensed Milk / Coffee Cake / Pandang / Palm Sugar
But first, as always, SNACKS!
For this street food inspired menu, the snack definitely set the tone for the meal. A wonderful take on BAHN MI, a rich, deeply flavoured beef, served on toasted baguette, with some pickled chilli. Delicious if a little ‘bread’ heavy. Mind you, we had ordered some mango mimosa apertifs so they helped wash things down.
The snack was shortly followed by the first course, well when I say shortly followed, the spring rolls turned up whilst I was still taking a photograph of the Bahn Mi… a very subtle and well balanced dish, packed full of crayfish and crab, vibrant herbs and a few dollops of a mild lime jus, they were an excellent start to the main courses. Light, very tasty, but possibly could’ve taken a green chilli heat to give it a different dimension but that’s me being very picky.
I’ve had Pho at a few places, both in the UK and in Singapore and I think this take on it nails all the key parts perfectly. Starting with the rich broth which brought a heavy hit of chicken umami-ness (if that’s a word) which added to the depth of flavour for thin ‘noodle’ strips of chicken. A perfectly cooked tiger prawn sat atop the dish, with another hidden underneath alongside some earthy mushrooms to add both texture and further flavour. It may be small bit this Pho was mighty!
I’ve never had rice porridge before and I’m pretty sure what we had wasn’t how it would normally be presented; a slice of what was essentially a savoury rice pudding which was seared on one side. On top of that was satay duck, and somewhere in the mix a gentle heat which, I’m presuming, came from the mooli. The shredded duck was succulent, with a good heat, and was utterly delicious, I’m not sure about the presentation and it’ll be interesting to see how that aspect of the dish changes over the coming weeks (we were there on day 2 of this new menu).
More fishy goodness with the next course. A perfectly pan cooked fillet of sea bream on top of smoked vermicelli rice noodles, with a couple of squid rings as well. Each element was perfectly executed, I could’ve eaten a large plate of the squid alone as it was perfectly cooked, and the lightly spiced and smoked noodles helped bring a freshness to the entire plate.
Looking at the menu, the penultimate plate was the one that had me a little trouble. I’ve had good and bad pork belly in the past and, as I am not a fan of eating fat, I had my concerns. To say there were unfounded is to sell short and absolute belter of a dish that packed some huge flavours, and the pork belly, ohhhhh that pork belly, was an utterly, salivatingly, salty and succulent delight. Coconut rice, charred pineapple, and a lightly chilli’d pineapple jus brought the entire plate together in an explosion of taste and, well I could’ve six courses of just that!
And then dessert arrived. I am on the record as NOT A FAN of cold coffee flavours. They just don’t sit on my palate all that well, so you can keep your tirimasu thanks. Not so this decadent offering, with a condensed milk panacotta (oh my heavens!) topped with a slice of light coffee cake and slivers of palm sugar, and presented with a subtle coffee aroma’d espuma. I don’t mind telling you I was virtually licking the bowl clean.
Looking back, it’s hard to find fault with any of the dishes offered. Each one was clean and light on the palate, even when packing a punch. It was a real embodiment of Vietnamese cooking served up with no short measure of panache, skill and flair.
In the grand ranking of Six by Nico menus whilst this doesn’t quite push The Chippie off my top spot (a menu which packed heartier flavours in and was without real flaw), it’s certainly up there in a close second place.
Price wise, in a shock move, they’ve put the price up a massive £3! Yup, six courses of delicious food will set you back £28, plus £5 for the starter and £5 for an apertif. Wine matching remains £25, an option I thought it best to avoid when starting dinner at 9pm on a school night.
Regardless, £28 for food this good is still a ridiculous bargain. There is a very good reason we’ve not missed a menu yet, and if you haven’t managed along I cannot recommend this eating experience enough.
A small sidenote: one of my friends is a very fussy eater. He too has not missed a menu and has tried all manner of things that he has avoided before. The beauty of Six by Nico is precisely that you aren’t really entirely sure how the ingredients listed against every item in the menu will be cooked and presented and, so far, it’s been a wonderous delight every time.