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June 21, 2024

A Vietnamese sojourn in the middle of the city

Payel Majumdar Upreti
Chef Vaibhav Bhargava spent months in Vietnam on the verge of finalising the menu for Cho Vietnamese Kitchen and Bar, and the menu is a labour of love, featuring street favourites from Vietnam. Specialising in South East Asian cuisine, Chef decided that while the Vietnamese food palate is very close to Indians, not many joints in the country serve the food of the country. Previously associated with the city’s popular Asian restaurants Viet Nom and Guppy by Ai, Cho is his latest venture.
Choo winter menu Vietnamese
Photo Courtesy: Choo
The Ambawatta One complex houses the restaurant decorated with warm bamboo lamps and other figurines from the country and has three separate seating areas – indoors, a balcony space where we chose to seat ourselves, and a terrace with a white cabana for intimate gatherings.
The menu is an amalgamation of small plates, meant to be shared during fun, intimate meals. I reached the destination, in a 160-year-old haveli right on top of the store of one of India’s leading designers. We seated ourselves in a large verandah, overlooking the courtyard, under filtered winter sunlight. I ordered a gin-based orange flavoured cocktail, while my friend went for some sparkling water. The entrees included prawn-based dimsums, meat skewers smoked in pandan leaves, and more. For vegetarians, there are cheese-filled dimsums, flavoured delicately with scallions. The dish that really stood out for us was Vietnamese pizza, a popular street snack, crispy rice paper sheets topped with salami and kewpie mayonnaise, among other things. Another signature, a sticky mock meat snack, seemed like a healthier alternative to the other meaty dishes.
Choo winter menu Vietnamese
Photo Courtesy: Choo
The food looks as good as it tastes, the colours enhancing the heartiness of the fare.
Some might find Vietnamese food more suitable for summer. Chef Vaibhav is determined to show his customers the other side of the moon, with lots of hot-pots available on the menu. We went for a peppery fish hotpot, along with fragrant jasmine rice. Other options available included Vietnamese Nah Trang Rice, Ba’nh Knot Tiger Prawns, Vietnamese Fried Chicken Tacos, Lemongrass Tofu and more.
The dimsums were succulent, the skewers melted in the mouth, and the flavours familiar, yet different enough to make us sit up and take notice.  Chef Vaibhav spoke about how the whole point of the menu was to not make elaborate meals, instead smaller, shareable portions that could be enjoyed over cold winter days.
Choo winter menu Vietnamese
Photo Courtesy: Choo
For dessert, we opted for Hot Toffee Pudding, a soft spongy cake topped with caramel sauce. The other options were equally tempting – banana and chilli chocolate spring roll, coconut parfait, choux bun or chocolate dimsums!
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