Recently opened, Sao Mai Kitchen in Kilburn specialises in offering a wide range of Vietnamese and Asian cuisine. Service is quite efficient with our dishes not taking long to arrive after we placed our orders for them. Each table has a set of condiments that you can add to your food to add an extra element of flavour.
A standard at any Vietnamese restaurant, Pho can be ordered with beef only or plus beef balls/tripe in either a regular or a large bowl. The fresh beef in the Pho Tai we chose was tender. Its flavour was heightened by the richly spiced beef broth. Served alongside the dish were beansprouts and Asian herbs to give more texture and spice to the Pho.
For a restaurant that specialises mostly in Vietnamese cuisine, SMK has quite a good range of salt and pepper dishes. All these dishes can be ordered as an entrée or main size dish. The Salt and Pepper Squid we chose had crisp coating contrasting well with the tender flesh. The dish was also notable for the inclusion of fried lemongrass, which gave the dish an additional element of flavour.
Salt and Pepper Squid (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
A rice dish we tend to order at Vietnamese restaurants, the quality of the Pork Chop Rice at SMK was excellent. The pork chops were fried to golden brown and had a hint of five spice flavour. Served with the dish was a soup which tasted somewhat similar to that of the Pho, and a dipping sauce with a bit of tang. For those that want something more filling, SMK also have Combination Rice which has pork chop accompanied by fried egg, roast pork and shredded pork.
Pork Chop Rice (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
Combination Rice (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
For those not in the mood for pork, you can choose to order the Golden Crispy Chicken. The chicken was cooked perfectly and had crispy skin. The dish was served with a sauce and spring onions which added some extra flavour.
Golden Crispy Chicken (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
Bun Bowl is another standard menu item at Vietnamese restaurants. This is a rice vermicelli salad with vegetables, herbs and your choice of meat. The Lemongrass Beef we chose complemented the rice vermicelli well. The dressing provided to pour over the ingredients tied everything together.
Lemongrass Beef Rice Vermicelli (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
One of various stir-fry dishes that can be ordered, the chicken we chose for the SMK stir-fry was cooked just right with the various vegetables still having a crunch in them. The sauce that the various ingredients were stir-fried in gave the dish a flavour that was a bit similar to sweet and sour dishes. If you prefer, you have the choice of having the SMK stir-fry with other kinds of meat, squid, seafood, vegetables or tofu.
SMK Stir-fry (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
Much like the SMK Stir-fry, the Japanese Udon noodles dish allows you your choice of meat. The udon noodles were cooked to al dente and the sauce had a flavour similar to Teriyaki Chicken. Some crunch was also provided by the bean sprouts that were tossed in the noodles.
Japanese Udon Noodles (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
For those that like something spicy, their Hot Chilli Noodles is a good choice. The chilli sauce the noodles were tossed in provided a delightful spicy hit to the dish but it was not so hot that it cannot be enjoyed by those not used to spicy foods.
Hot Chilli Noodles (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
Resembling the popular Asian drink known as Cendol, the Three Bean Drink consists of red beans, creamed corn and strands of green coloured rice flour jelly layered in a glass with coconut milk and crushed ice. The coconut milk gave the drink its distinctive sweet flavour that was balanced out by the more savoury red beans and creamed corn. A long-handled spoon was provided to make it an easy task to scoop up the various ingredients in the drink.
Three Bean Drink (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
The restaurant has a casual and relaxed ambience and there is plenty of off street parking spaces in the carpark behind the restaurant.