Vietnamese food and culture is something I have never tried or experienced – until now….
Vietcentric recently opened in the newly regenerated Snienton Market area of Avenue B and is the new venture of owner Kimi Leu, a former Vietnamese refugee boat child who fled her homeland at the age of eight, spending some time in Hong Kong until the age of 15 when she came to the UK. She has experience in running several businesses including her own restaurant and so is fully qualified to now be running cookery classes and sharing her knowledge with others.
Vietcentric is a two story unit which has been carefully thought out, a brand new contemporary yet ‘homely’ kitchen has been fitted, with work stations for those taking part in the cookery course. Upstairs is a whole area dedicated to Vietnamese culture and experience offering a cosy and colourful interior, wooden seating, artwork on the walls, traditional decor and ornaments.
Upon arrival we were greeted by the team (Kimi’s friends and family who support and work beside her) plus Vietnamese student Hung Vu who gives his spare time when not studying Economics at Nottingham Trent University to help out at the centre. Hung is also a qualified GP who studied medicine back home, but has since had a change of heart in his career aspirations. Hung says of Vietcentric;
“I love working here as it reminds me of home and it is really the only place in Nottingham I can find good Vietnamese food!”
As we were led upstairs we were offered spiced cinnamon tea and treated to music from Hai Dang who sat and elegantly plucked the dan tranh (a traditional Vietnamese string instrument) we also had a chance to try on the traditional clothing- a great ice breaker in the room and a chance to get to know everyone else who happened to be on the course with us.
Prosecco came next as we chatted and took photos of ourselves in the clothing and I enjoyed a conversation with Hung about the different benefits of the tea they sold.
Next it was time to get stuck in and cook! Downstairs we were shown to our work stations and put on our aprons. All of our ingredients was neatly placed in what looked like brand new Tupperware /bowls and chopping boards and Kimi and her team took us though each stage of making our own spring rolls- fantastic!
Chopping, frying and rolling was the order of the afternoon and what fun we had, the looks of concentration as everyone attempted the rolling was priceless and lots of laughs were had during the experience. Once the spring roles were fried we then had the chance to layer different lettuce leaves, place our masterpieces on top and tie in a bow with greenery to create a pretty finished look- restaurant quality I have to say!
Next came the main course – BBQ pork noodles (vegetarian alternatives available) and whilst the majority of this (pork) was cooked by the team, we were first able to create our own marinade encompassing lemongrass, shallots and other tasty herbs together to which the Vietcentric team then took over whilst we enjoyed eating our spring roll creations and drinking wine upstairs.
Once the leg work had been done the challenge was on to wrap the pork rolls in our noodles without tearing and this was made to look easy by Pamela the expert who demonstrated her skills – very impressive. After frying the meat and smoking out the kitchen the wrap was made from water and rice flour over a pan of boiling water and muslin cloth – a traditional method used commonly in Vietnam during cooking. After 3 attempts I gave up and made do with what I could!
It did taste nicer than it looked I have to say and a glass of homemade lemonade was welcomed at this point- very refreshing after an afternoon of cooking.
Our two course dinner was finished off nicely with a dessert of fresh fruit and condense milk presented to us by the hosts- one thing we didn’t need to make ourselves.
Vietcentric’ s definitely not just a restaurant and not just a cooking school, it is a culinary and cultural experience rolled into one and all should take the time to visit with friends family or colleagues- great for corporate team building, celebrations or simply if you’re a foodie.
The culinary journey costs £35 during August, and will then be £45, on Sundays 4.30pm to 7.30pm and Thursdays from 6.30pm to 9.30pm. Alternatively take a four-course food tour for £10, available from Thursday to Saturday 11.30am to 3pm.
For more information contact Kimi on: 07768 863 685 / email@example.com
Fiona Duncan, RSViP