Chique BEP took over the Soho title for new Vietnamese Fusion cuisine, but never really got the crowds wowing even though it’s the same group behind both restaurants. BEP just doesn’t live up to the quality and standard of it’s predecessor.
Our eyes lid up when we saw that VietKitchen, helmed by Peter Cuong Franklin, the mind behind Chom Chom, would open up a new venture in the heart of central, possibly bringing us once again closer to authentic phở (noodles), bún (vermicelli soup), bánh mì (sandwiches), coffee and more.
The chique modern space offers space for 88 people, and has an open kitchen in the back, with the rest of the restaurant designed around the (surprisingly big) bar area that takes up the centre space. It feels more like a place you would likely find in Soho than in an office building between Burger King, Market Place and Bank of China. Obviously they will be open for lunch and trying to draw in the massive crowd for some Vietnamese lunch sets, but we got out reservation done for dinner and sat down in the rather empty restaurant.
Dishes are reasonably priced and there were some interesting options on the menu. Unfortunately most of those weren’t available that night which left us stunned. How are you gonna build a reputation if your signature dishes aren’t ready for dinner?!
In the end we went for the Tom Yum Shrimp salad (78 HKD), Sole Fillet Rice Paper Rolls (78 HKD), Soft Shell Crab Rice Paper Rolls (88 HKD) and the Roast Duck Rice Paper Rolls (88 HKD) for starters. Everything was average, but the rather common composition of the dishes didn’t leave much room for surprises in the first place.
We then tried their Saigon Beef Pho (68 HKD), Roast Duck Pho (68 HKD), Wok Fried Beef Tenderloin (198 HKD), Pho Flight (88 HKD) and Sweet Corn & Mushroom (78 HKD) for mains.
While the Beef Tenderloin and Corn were delicious, with a perfect juiciness and texture of the beef cubes and some seriously yummy corn on the side, we were left less than impressed by all the Pho dishes.
When the first Pho arrived we got big eyes because the portions were about half the size from what we are used to at BEP and Nha Trang.
It was THEN that we had a second look at the menu and discovered the small but important “MINI” in front of the Pho selections. Who serves MINI PHO for dinner people?
We asked what that was about and where the NORMAL sized Phos were hiding, but the waitress told us that there were no normal sized phos available during dinner… WAIT WHAT? Now this is for you Mr. Franklin, “Why serve MINI sized Phos during dinner, that wont leave you full, nor give you value for money, when I can head up to Soho, sit in a more posh place, and get a double sized Pho for almost the same price?” We were not able to draw any reasonable or logical solution to their menu setup.
The Pho flight is a nice idea (88 HKD) I give you that, but one might guess it. While the “normal” pho was already mini sized, the Pho Flight consisting of 4 different flavoured Phos in their respective bowls, was just good enough for me to finish and forget I just ate something. That’s how small the portions are.
We skipped dessert and headed over to Burger King next door to bring our stomachs up to a proper satisfaction level.
It’s a strange concept for a very central located fusion restaurant. I feel like they want to go with the posh Soho style menu of smaller portions for higher prices, but wont be able to gather any attention due to their proximity to other much cheaper eateries around.
I still have to see their lunch sets which might be their main point of income, but for dinner this might be skip able, especially if you live anywhere between Soho and Midlevels with BEP and their likes just next door. Their service was good and nice, and the Beef to die for, but that wont be enough to get me coming back.
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