This Thonglor restaurant opened earlier this year with the bold mission of transporting Vietnamese cuisine into a trendy, bright and inviting industrial setting. Set in the old spot occupied by Yuu Shabu, above After You in J Avenue, the intriguingly titled venue scores highly for style, all splashes of bright blue and red, hanging lamps and bare brick walls. A vivid propaganda poster of a Vietnamese lady covers one wall, but the food doesn’t shine quite so bright.
The casual menu spans the usual noodles, salads and rolls, with a few a la carte options thrown in, too. On our last visit, we tried three dishes from the recommended board, all of which served up flavors decidedly more Thai than Vietnamese. The shredded chicken salad (B180) packed all the fragrance of a laab—and the bite, too—while the barbecue pork ribs (B220) were served with nam jim jaew. The ribs, sadly, were quite chewy and lacked the smoky sweetness we’ve come to associate with the Northeastern dish, though the accompanying deep-fried sticky rice was a nice touch.
The pickled crab in fish sauce (B440) seems to be a take on the Thai dish pu khai dong, in which the spicy sauce is balanced by the sweetness of the crab eggs. The flavor is an acquired taste and we were a little bewildered by the dish’s half-thawed texture on our last visit, too.
Even with the Vietnamese staples, there seems to be inattention to detail. The “original” spring rolls (B180) are fresh but bland, packed with fried pork skin that needs seasoning and coming with a sweet chilli dipping sauce, when a peanut-based one might have added more kick. The steamed rice crepe (B200) with ground pork, wood ear mushroom and egg, too, doesn’t have the silky texture the dish is known for, served in one hard-to-manage mound and with a sauce that tastes only of lemon.
One of the partners in Zoulviet is Vietnamese and many of the recipes are said to come from her mother, who also works in the kitchen, but we wouldn’t come here for authenticity. In fact, we would probably skip food altogether—though the kanom jeen with beef soup (B200) is nice and soothing—and just come for rounds of drinks, whether it’s the refreshing lemon with pandanus (B60), sake jelly (B280) or Estrella Inedit (B650).
|Address:||Zoulviet, J Avenue, Thonglor Soi 13, Bangkok, Thailand|
|Price Range:||BB - BB|
|Open since:||March, 2014|
|Opening hours:||daily 10am-10pm|
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