Friday, 25 November 2011

Ladudu in West Hampstead: restaurant review

Ooh, Ladudu is a welcome addition to West Hampstead's cluster of great restaurants.

Situated at the junction of Iverson Road and West End Lane, this Vietnamese eatery looks out at our swanky new Thameslink station and is perfectly placed for passing traffic and commuters seeking sustenance at the end of a busy day. Its elegant dark wood shared tables echo the canteen style of the popular Banana Tree up the road but manages to establish its own character with warm lighting and stylish decor. Having wifi and a comfy sofa zone, it invites you to hang about doing a bit of work or meeting friends.

Last night's meal was lovely and beautifully presented.

The prawns in the green papaya salad were a bit ordinary but the delicate flavours and crunchy texture in the salad were divine and have me salivating thinking about it even now. My Lovely Companion's char-grilled baby calimari stuffed with minced pork and prawns (four on a skewer) with little nibbly bits of rice noodles and salady stuff were "a top starter".

I had the pork chops (two) with a fried egg — lovely broken into the rice. It also came with the most delicious fish cakes that could be a starter on their own (I hope the owners add this to the starter menu). The pork chops were tender and lightly spiced but not as tasty as the marinated pork at the Banana Tree which we usually have as a shared starter. Lovely companion's marinaded pork skewers on noodles were nicely spicy.

He enjoyed his caramelised pear cake (a spongy upside-down cake) with lychee ice-cream. I often skip dessert but I'm glad I had the crepes (two) stuffed with actual coconut meat, not the desiccated packet stuff you make cakes with. My roasted sesame seed ice-cream could have done with a bit more flavour whereas the lychee had a nice subtle fruity kick.

Lovely Companion says beer drinkers should note that the flavour of the Hanoi is better than the Saigon.

Too often, restaurants which focus on the visual presentation of their food assume you only want dinky ornamental amounts. Ladudu's portions are generous and don't leave you starving at the end of the meal. Bill came to £45 including two beers and an Aspall's cider.