My excitement over the opening of a Vietnamese restaurant on West End Lane, just minutes from our house, has been bubbling away since the Ladudu sign first made its appearance. Vietnamese food easily makes it into my top three world cuisines, and NW6 suffers from a drought of quality, authentic Asian food. My heart went out to owner, Teresa Le (follow her on Twitter @ladudufood), when I spotted a sign in the window on the restaurant’s inaugural day, announcing that due to a delay in the gas installation, no mains could be served. A restaurant with no gas?! Hardly the all singing all dancing opening every restaurateur would hope for! This problem has not been speedily resolved, and it is only today that Ladudu is finally closed for the said gas installation to take place. Yet they seemed to have rumbled along, still attracting custom with offerings of Vietnamese coffee, cakes and deserts, and with the help of an electric ring, even rustled up a few select mains each lunchtime. I popped in yesterday to try out West End Lane’s newest coffee venue and will be returning post-gas installation for the full works.
On entering Ladudu, there is an immediate sense of space and calm. The decor is contemporary Eastern style, with an abundance of dark wood and walls adorned with photographs of Vietnam. The Vietnamese phrase books and pots of herbs on the table add a quirky touch, and leather bucket seats were perfect for wedging Rafa in. Whilst he happily rolled around and desperately vied for attention from other customers, I enjoyed a latte and a pain au chocolat. Not a classic Vietnamese snack I have to concede; I drew more on the traditions of Vietnam’s former colonisers this time. The coffee easily beats that of the big chains just across the road (did you know Vietnam is the second largest coffee exporter in the world?), and my pain au choc came freshly warmed with the delectable crispiness that comes from an oven not a microwave.
Service was chirpy and enthusiastic and demonstrated knowledge of the way to win the loyalty of any new mum: comment on what a gorgeous baby they have 😉
I will miss the food trials next week as I gorge myself in the Loire Valley, but my mouth is already watering at the prospect of savouring fresh Vietnamese food on my return.