I used to trust Google maps, after all every road map is backed up with both a satellite photograph and a 360 degree walkthrough of every street in Britain. An Nam Croydon entered into the search box, kerching the website -easy, booking a table- easy, finding the restaurant – a little more difficult. The directions looked simple enough but Streetview was taking me to an Audi garage opposite the golden arches and a PetsAtHome. I was a little surprised. I still trusted the power of Google, restaurants are often just tucked behind car showrooms after all, and set out on the 1.1 mile walk from my flat to the first Vietnamese meal of my life.
4 miles, and nearly an hour later, we got to An Nam. Thankfully service was more direct and soon enough we were presented with hot crispy Cha Giò (Vietnamese spring rolls). Bubbly crispy pastry held a deep prawn and pork filling. Next up was Bánh Cuôn Thit (pictured), steamed rice rolls filled with crumbly iron rich pork mince topped with crispy shalots.
Who needs main courses? Ten more plates of this please.
Banh Khot (traditional cakes with shrimp and pork) arrived with the mains. They were piping hot, gooey and egg heavy. Most of them were taken home and tasted far better cold for a late Sunday breakfast.
Such a sensational opening is difficult to maintain and the otherwise faultless spicy lemon grass beef was let down slightly by cold and undercooked noodles. The tiger prawns were rather too bouncy to be edible and proved the only real disappointment.
The atmosphere and the typically charming south east-asian service lifted the experience from good to excellent. Washed down with Tsing-tao, Coca-Cola for the former blonde, we stuffed ourselves with pretty neat chow for less than fifty notes, which isn’t bad, even in the crunch.
But those steamed pork mince rice rolls were the real star, worth wandering lost all day for. Next time I will ignore Google map (crap) and follow my nose to that delectable platter of slippery porky goodness (Alternatively I could catch the 119 which conveniently runs door to door).
I cannot wait to bring friends here, to share laughs and good food and to bury my face in plate after plate of Bánh Cuôn Thit.