Saturday, 8 August 2015

Supperclub Nights - Noya's Kitchen

By: Mr Robot

We’ve been wanting to do one of Noya’s Vietnamese supperclubs for ages but they’re not easy to get into. At the time of writing (early August) she’s fully booked until, um, next year. With very good reason, as it turns out.

A couple of friends got word of some late availability, so naturally we piled in.

The supperclub is held in a cafe (The Bear Pad) in the Bear Flat area a 10-minute stroll from central Bath and done on a BYO basis. I put my chum Dave in charge of wine since he can’t resist a trip to Great Western Wine, while Mrs R and I trundled our way up the hill for a pint or two of aperitif before arriving, giddy with anticipation.

You see, we’ve done a fair bit of Vietnamese-ish cooking at home (thanks again to Uyen Luu’s marvellous book) but have never had it done properly by someone who knows what they’re doing.

So while we have complete faith in our books you could never describe us as more than enthusiastic ignorami. Here, for the first time, authenticity beckoned.

Clearly I can hardly pretend to give an authoritative critique, but I can tell you it’s a bloody good evening. 

Noya greeted and seated us, and we sat twitchily waiting for the booze our friends to arrive, and the food to come.

We opened with Steamed Pork Noodle Roll and Prawn Summer Roll, along with a stern warning to USE THE DIPPING SAUCE.

I am at least an old enough hand to know that one but from the gasping and oohing around us, it well aimed. 

Mrs Robot’s a sucker for a summer roll so my right ear was largely full of happy chirps, while for me the pork roll was the highlight, soft and rich and savoury and so good with that dipping sauce (a little lighter than we make at home I noted).

I confess I kept that little dish by me throughout the evening so I could dabble a fingertip when (hopefully) no-one was looking. The stuff’s addictive.

Next up came a Hue Chicken Salad, with chicken wings and huge rice crackers. Not only was this extremely delicious, the salad is a favourite at home and was gratifyingly close to what we’ve made for ourselves. +100 kudos points to us then.

The wings were an excellent addition: the salad tends to be quite crunchy, it’s very fresh of course, and I find the vegetables bring out the acidity in the dressing. The wings gave contrast on all levels being soft, sticky and slightly sweet. It even brought fingers to balance against chopsticks! A lovely combo we’ll seek to replicate.

Incidentally, two courses in the place was buzzing - a great convivial atmosphere built up very quickly and the venue makes for a fine casual evening.

As Night spread her starry wings ‘cross the sky, Dave brought out the second bottle of Riesling and Noya’s minions brought out beef wrapped in betel leaves.

This was the revelation of the night. It was amazing, and unlike anything I’ve tried. I suppose the closest comparison is a close-textured sausage, and there were almost black-pudding hints of fragrant spices and a hint of sweetness. A delicious thing.

It came with (and I’m indebted to Noya for breaking this down for me, ‘cos I’d never have remembered all the detail) lemongrass peanut sauce, mint mango, pickled daikon and vermicelli noodle. To be honest, though, that was merely a medly of background loveliness to me - I was all about the Betelbeef.

Say it three times...

For course four Noya gave us all a huge cuddle, in the form of a steaming mound of perfect Jasmine rice alongside a ginger and chilli chicken stew that was full of deep, round flavours - the kind of thing that makes you sorry to be in public because you just want curl around it and trough.

Finally, regretfully, we ended with a classic creme caramel accompanied by coconut biscuits. Very definitely my kind of pudding. It was a great way to end actually, bringing in the French influence of course, but it also felt a little like coming home after this lengthy, wonderful exotic voyage. What an evening.

As we waddled our way slowly down the hill to the inevitably missed train and eyewatering taxi bill, we vowed sincerely to do this again as soon as possible. Next year.

All images (C) PP Gettins


  1. Amazing writ up, thank so much.
    I'm happy that you enjoyed the food and the evening.
    It would be lovely to see you again at supper club.
    I will let you know of any cancelations.

    1. :-) Glad you like it. Thank you for a brilliant evening - we'll be there any time you'll have us!