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Sunday, 13 December 2009
Fernandez and Leluu (UPDATED on 1st March 2011)
Uyen and Simon set up Fernandez & Leluu (F&L) about 3 months ago at their delightful flat in Hackney. Before starting her supper club and possibly because of my write up on Banh Mi, Uyen, who is Vietnamese became a follower of The London Foodie. I have, since then, corresponded with her whilst following her Supper Club venture with great interest and admiration.
I was lucky enough to meet them a few days ago at their Miss Saigon Evening – it was like meeting a “pen-friend” (if such things still exist), someone I felt I knew reasonably well but had never met.
Uyen and Simon were charming and very welcoming – as “front-of-house”, Uyen had more time and opportunity to talk to her guests while Simon was in the kitchen helped by Uyen’s mother. Uyen and Simon make up a great partnership – from completely different backgrounds (Vietnamese and Spanish), their cooking style reflects their cosmopolitan origins and sophistication. Their beautiful flat has an understated elegance about it, the casual but chic look of its furniture and decor adding to the experience at F&L.
The evening was sold out, and soon their living room was filled with a trendy crowd, mostly in their 20s and 30s, chatting excitedly over their bottles of wine and in great anticipation of the 7 courses that were to follow.
Soon enough, our first course was served – “Bi Cuon” (summer rolls of egg, cured pork, shredded pork skin, with mint, coriander and lettuce). Summer rolls is one of my favourite starters in any Vietnamese restaurant in London or Vietnam, and I order it every time.
F&L’s summer rolls bore no resemblance to the usual fare that I had tasted so far – they cleverly substituted the vermicelli with shredded pork skin, and used cured pork meat instead of the blander prawns that are so commonly used. An egg omelette was also used together with herbs and lettuce. The combination of flavours was sensational and the accompanying sauce - sweet, sour and slightly hot was perfect.
The “Banh Bao Dep” (clear prawn tapioca dumplings) served with “Phan Thiet” sweet & hot fish sauce was another exceptional dish. The tapioca wrapping was deliciously light, its silken texture contrasting beautifully with the meaty prawns. The “Phan Thiet” sauce was also complex, complimenting the simple flavours of the dish well.
The third course was “Goi Ga” (shredded chicken, coriander and lime salad served with prawn crackers). Similar to a Thai or Laotion laap, this dish was again packed with flavours while being very refreshing. A great dish to share around.
F&L’s “Cha Gio Nem” (woven spring rolls with prawns, pork, black fungus and vermicelli) was also excellent. I don’t normally get excited about spring rolls but F&L’s had obviously been freshly made on the premises. They tasted delicious and were a cut above anything I had ever eaten in Asian restaurants. Uyen has recently posted her own spring roll recipe with great photos at their Fernandez & Leluu’s blog which I am now dying to try out.
I am a real sucker for slow cooked meats and rich stews – I love tagines, koureshs, and casseroles of any kind. Our next course, “Thit Heo Trung Kho” (braised ham & quail egg in fish sauce and coconut juice) was another fine example of such a dish. The meat was exquisitely tender and tasted sweet from the coconut juice and spices, and was nicely complemented by the quail eggs. It was served with rice and stir fried morning glory.
The “Banh Canh” (Udon noodle soup with dill fish cakes) was delicate and soothing. The homemade fish cakes had been flavoured with dill and were utterly delicious.
For pudding, we were served “Che Chuoi” (banana with tapioca in coconut milk). The tapioca pearls had a pleasantly soft texture soaking up the banana and coconut milk flavours. It was a light and elegant dessert which I would love to try again.
We were also served Vietnamese coffee “Ca Phe Sua Da” (Vietnamese weasel coffee with condensend milk). I was never a fan of this, having tried it a few times in Vietnam, but to my surprise, F&L’s version was strongly flavoured and not overly sweet. This was the perfect way to finish an exceptional meal.
I have already been to a few supper clubs, but undoubtedly Fernandez & Leluu and The Loft by Nuno Mendes, are the top two by a long way in my opinion. Unlike The Loft where the suggested donation is £115 per person, L&F’s £35 price tag appears very moderate for this level of sophistication and consistency. I have booked again for the 18th December for their White Christmas evening, and am really looking forward to this.
Verdict – sophisticated cuisine by delightful couple Uyen and Simon @ £35 a head plus tips. A great value supper club serving outstanding food in charming apartment in East London. BYOB with no corkage charge. One of the best London supper clubs, and highly recommended.
...What Others Are Saying...
...What Others Are Saying...
Dr Tiffany Morris on 1st March 2011: I had read about this underground restaurant on The London Foodie and as a fan of all things Vietnamese I was very excited to give it a try! I, three of my housemates, and six couchsurfers (a mix of local hosts and travellers passing through) met to have a meal to remember.
Several of us arrived on bikes that were lovingly carried over the diners to the back garden for safekeeping by our host Simon. The seven courses were served at a relaxed but regular pace between 8pm-midnight. Each dish was shared between two which meant we quickly got to know each other.
All of the dishes were delicious and the one that stood out the most for me was the sashimi and chips. Fresh delicious salmon sashimi was served with a small dish of perfectly cooked chips, mushy peas and a side of fresh mayonnaise. It was a very simply but delicious union of western and eastern cooking.