It all started in 1979 when I came home from school and the whole family was at my house. We lived in rural Vietnam and travelling to remote places was not easy. I was told to go out and play! I was 7 years old.
About a week later we boarded a boat and headed out to Hong Kong. I was told we were going on a long holiday. I knew we weren’t as the boat was overflowing with families sleeping wherever they can (see photo below of a similar boat that we boarded).
We came to the UK in 1981, and almost 40 years later I found myself teaming up with a group of friends to open a Vietnamese Street Food place. The impetus for this started when I visited Vietnam in 2016 and 2017. One of my very first meals was on the streets of Hanoi and the taste and smell brought back memories ... like I had never left.
Failing to find adequate venues that offer the authenticity of Banh Mi and Pho we decided to open our own place. Vietnamese food is one of the most delicious, healthy and fastest growing cuisines in the world and we wanted to have the best recipes, use fresh food, and be a place which provides simple casual dining, take away, or having your food delivered. So we have designed our own simple menu based on Vietnam’s three most popular street foods.
Our Banh Mi french style baguettes are served with pate, mayo, salad, cucumber and pickles with your choice of BBQ pork, chicken or beef … if you want the special then we top it with a fried egg! Be brave and add a splash of Sriracha chilli sauce to complete the taste!!!
For our thick cut rice noodle Pho broth (which includes spring onions, coriander and you can add meat) we tested various recipes including Mum’s, Girl Friend’s, Uncle’s, Aunty’s - basically, no Old Mama’s or Papa’s recipes were left unturned to try and replicate “OUR” Hanoi Pho experience! The North invented Pho and the taste is more savoury than the South.
Bun Cha is a BBQ meat noodle salad, served at room temperature. It is made with BBQ pork but we offer chicken and beef varieties too.
We use the leading brand of Vietnamese Coffee, Trung Nguyen, which can be served hot or cold and in the traditional drip style. Also, probably the freshest and most healthy drink you can have in Leeds, fresh green tea brewed with fresh tea leaves flown direct from Hanoi. We simmer boil them for hours to extract all the flavour, just like they do in Vietnam…no additives, no preservatives, no milk or sugar (well some do succumb to this sweet temptation…so use cane sugar only if you must)
So why Headingley? We wanted to be out of the city centre and in a lively, busy residential area which has international exposure. The presence of the universities and Headingley Stadium nearby gives us this. Though newly opened we were delighted to welcome some Australian rugby team members here. In Australia they really know and love our cuisine!
The Viet Baker
15 North Lane
0113 278 8338