The last couple of months have been busy and stressful, to say the least. it’s also been a while since I last took some time to find somewhere new to dine out locally. But a short walk from Dalston, nestled on the corner of Balls Pond Road and Mildmay Park I found a small Vietnamese haunt, Salvation in Noodles.
SIN, as it’s been aptly nicknamed, opened back in 2014 by Colin Tu – who was previously behind burger pop-up, Big Dirty Burger – and serves up a modest yet authentic menu of hot and cold noodle soups and salads.
While the restaurant’s a little on the intimate side it’s vibrant and inviting nun the less. With a crisp, clean-lined decor and seating resemblant more like an old-school classroom, SIN definitely gets top marks for charm and character.
There were only a few tables left when I arrived with my partner at around 7pm, but it was the hustle of Deliveroo drivers (a usual sighting in Dalston any day around that time) waiting to pick up orders in the takeaway area that made me feel I’d made the right choice in this cosy spot.
SIN has the usual variety of starters you’d usually find in a Vietnamese restaurant – spring rolls, prawn crackers and aromatic crispy fried chicken were just a few choices – but I always opt for Summer Rolls.
As I’m on a plant-based, whole food diet, I chose the tofu option. Summer Rolls are simply a fresh, healthier (non-fried) version of spring rolls filled with glacier rice noodles, finely chopped lettuce, basil and your choice of either prawn or tofu – all wrapped in a single sheet of rice paper.
I’d also recommend trying the traditional spring rolls too. I noticed on another table that the dish is served with a noticeable twist in the form of what looked like a crisp, puff pastry appearance – and most probably texture.
Like many Vietnamese street food restaurants, the signature dish is always Pho, and the meat-topped noodle soup (consisting of broth, rice noodles and herbs) was a favourite by many dining that evening – especially the beef pho which my partner decided to chose.
Bun noodle salads are a personal favourite of mine, so I naturally chose this dish from the menu. The base of the dish is rice noodles served at room temperature along with bean sprouts, pickled carrots, a handful of fresh herbs plus a roasted peanut and fried shallot garnish.
I chose the tofu topping (Bun Dau Phu) which was lightly wok-fried in salt and pepper, however, there’s a choice of grilled satay chicken, grilled pork patties, betel leaf wrapped beef and grilled prawn.
Generous servings of rice noodles and large fluffy, crispy pieces of lightly seasoned tofu made this dish not only wholesomely filling, but didn’t leave me feeling like I’d overeaten. I’m also guilty of adding lashings of sriracha sauce in a brazened attempted to add an extra kick of traditional Vietnamese flavour.
As with many Vietnamese restaurants, ingredients are fresh, prices are very reasonable and service is pretty quick. A meal for two people including of two starters, two main dishes and two alcoholic drinks set us back about £45 including service.
We’ll definitely be showing our faces again at this local spot and since posting this article I’ve already ordered food to take away using Deliveroo!
For reservations, opening times and menu details, visit the Salvation in Noodles website or call: 020 7254 4534
All images were taken by Demetrius Williams unless otherwise stated.