A few hours before myself and three friends embarked on Friday night’s plans, there was confusion in the air.
While three members of our party were gearing up for an indulgent eight course meal at the home of Leluu – the writer, photographer, blogger and (extremely) “good cook” behind London’s only Vietnamese supper club – the fourth had misread it as “super club”, and was busy pondering what music would be played, and whether she’d need to bring glowsticks or wear a more dressy outfit for the ensuing rave-up.
When the penny dropped some messages later (“It’s at someone’s house!” “Ohh”), we made our way east and were welcomed into Leluu’s living-cum-dining room, where five tables were laid with plates, chopsticks and water, and our fellow diners were getting seated.
The next three hours were what can only be described as an education in why I should venture out of my culinary comfort zone more often. Vietnamese food isn’t something I’ve eaten a lot of, aside from a couple of dishes on the Kingsland Road, so at this point I’m going to drop all pretense of knowing what I’m on about and give the following, slightly pedestrian-sounding summary: this was Bloody. Good. Food.
The flavours were entirely new; delicate, fresh, tingly and like nothing I’ve ever tasted before, my favourite being the sirloin steak wrapped in betal leaf, pictured above. Crucially for an eight course meal, each serving always left you wanting a little bit more, and certain beyond all reasonable doubt that you could make room for whatever else came your way.
With us being more “eaties” than “foodies”, the whole experience is best encapsulated by the words of my friend, who, around course number two, whispered those immortal words: “would it be uncouth to lick the plate?”, and proceeded to demolish the remains of the accompanying dipping sauce by the spoonful. It was utterly, utterly delicious.
This was my first supper club, and by proxy, a rare night out revolving entirely around eating. So perhaps one of the things I enjoyed as much as the food was being able to take my time and relax a bit. Too often I find myself gobbling down a forgettable dinner at an impersonal London restaurant, and parting with the best bit of £30 for the pleasure, all within in the space of an hour. Here, everything was spread out over a whole evening, served in an intimate setting and worth every penny of the £35 we paid at the end. There was even time to nip upstairs to say a quick hello Leluu’s dogs between courses. Seriously – what’s not to love?
I left with a full, content belly, tingling taste buds and another addition to my vastly expanding London To-Do list: Leluu’s Vietnamese cooking courses.
So if you too fancy a break from the Pizza Express cycle of doom, then give this supper club a go. And if you can recommend any others, then please do. My stomach demands it.