Union Viet

Union Viet is a Vietnamese restaurant/cafe that’s a stone’s throw away from Southwark and London Bridge tube stations. It’s a lovely family-run place that takes its food seriously, with a no-frills approach to dining. It looks small at first but they have more tables upstairs so you should be able to get a seat even at peak times.

I go there once a week (at least) with my colleagues so over time, I feel like I’ve got to know the owners Nyugen (pronounced “Win”) and Sue quite well – and I find them really friendly and welcoming. It’s nice because they don’t have a high turnover, so the staff will start recognising you if you go there a few times, and it’s not a chain, so it feels like a more special experience in that respect too.

One of the things I like about them is that they really listen to your requests and tailor their order to you as much as they can. I feel I’ve perhaps started abusing this privilege by asking for the beef in my bun hue to be well done, for no jia (Vietnamese sausage slices – which I’ve never really got into for some reason) and for extra noodles. You tell them whether you’re going to sit upstairs or downstairs, order and pay at the counter and get a receipt with your order number on it, and then someone will bring you your food when it’s ready. Simples. And no faffing around waiting for the bill after you’ve finished.

It’s actually quite hard to write about a place you like a lot without making it sound like you’re in cahoots with the owners, but believe me, they’re not paying me in money or pho to write this. 🙂

Though I wouldn’t mind getting a free bun hue, Nyugen and Sue, if you’re reading this. 😉 (Just kidding).

Here’s what I had for lunch yesterday:

Pork spring rolls
My custom bun bo hue – the beef is normally rare and it normally comes with jia as well

The pork spring rolls were beautifully seasoned and went perfectly with the slightly tangy, sour sauce that came with them. (Although I have to admit I have no idea what the sauce actually is!) The bun hue was perfect, full of flavour and with the right level of spice (though of course there’s always extra sriracha on the side if you like it spicier).

They also do veggie options with tofu, which my veggie colleague L. appreciates. Another friend of mine from work tried their papaya salad yesterday and loved it, so I think you can’t really go wrong if you are looking for an affordable yet delicious Vietnamese meal near London Bridge/Southwark. There definitely will be something on the menu that tickles your fancy.

They also offer a pho challenge, which I spectacularly failed along with a friend from work last year… It’s a monster bowl of pho (possibly around 5 kg of food in total) which you have to ask them to prepare a day in advance as it’s so time consuming to make and it costs 20 quid if you can’t finish it. It’s the liquid that defeated me. I could more or less eat my way through the rest but I just couldn’t put away all the soup. 😂

I don’t think my picture has been added to their wall of shame yet though, thankfully. If you go there and try their challenge, I wish you the best of luck – because you’re going to need it! 🙂

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