Secret Recipe: Vit Béo’s Vietnamese Chicken Slaw
Late-night spot Vit Béo debuted when most restaurants steadfastly remain closed - January 1, 2018. But the date would prove to be auspicious, as the last night eatery has been one of the top restaurants in the city since day one.
Nick Kennedy and chef David Huynh, owners of popular bar Civil Liberties, partnered with restaurateur Amy O'Grady, in response to “the lack of quality late night food in the neighbourhood,” says O’Grady.
Huynh, now chef of Vit Béo, has created an array of enticing modern Vietnamese fare that distinguishes itself from most. Piping hot bowls of fragrant pho ($12) include usual beef and vegetable varieties, but Pho Bo Kho AKA PBK - reduced beef stew with carrot, celeriac, herbs, and lime, served with dry rice noodles - is not-to-be-missed. Bánh mì ($10-$12) too, go the extra mile - stuffed with house-made headcheese, kewpie mayo pickle, and your choice of BBQ pork belly, seared chicken, or king oyster mushrooms and baby bok choy.
Alluring dishes continue throughout the menu: seared iron “Shaking” Beef ($12) invigorated with fish sauce, watercress, and lime; Crispy, creamy Brisket Croquette ($8) with synergistic duo béchamel and Sriracha mayo; and Sea Bass Crudo ($9), alight with Big Trouble Pizza pepper jelly and Red Boat fish sauce.
Since the menu is ever-evolving, there’s no chance of boredom settling in. And while Chef Mai Le’s Vietnamese Chicken Slaw may not be on the menu as of yet, perhaps with a little coaxing, it will soon be added.
Le, age 24, has been enamoured with the industry “ever since I was young.” Cooking professionally for five years in a range of cuisines - Italian, Canadian, fusion – she says, “Vit Béo has given me the opportunity to branch into Vietnamese cuisine, which has a special place in my heart because I am Vietnamese-Canadian.”
The dish evokes “fond memories of my mother's congee,” says Le. “She would boil a whole bird with rice, aromatics, and fish sauce for the [rice porridge], then take the bird out to make a very similar version of this slaw.”
Le adapted the recipe for home cooks and it’s brilliant: Zippy, crunchy and deeply satisfying, it all comes together easily, and is the perfect back-to-school lunch/weeknight repast/late night snack, with enough left over for tomorrow.
Vietnamese Chicken Slaw
Recipe by Mai Le
Chicken cook time: 90 minutes
Serves: 4-6 people
3lbs Whole Chicken
2 lemongrass stalks
1 medium chunk of ginger, peeled
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 small head of purple cabbage or half a medium head
2 medium sweet onions, peeled
1 tsp kosher salt
3 limes, juiced
3 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp ground black pepper
1 bunch of mint rough chopped
Place Chicken in a large pot.
Slice ginger in 1cm thickness, then add to the pot.
Bruise the lemongrass by hitting it with the back of your knife. cut the lemongrass into 4 pieces and add to the pot along with the peppercorns.
Fill the pot with water till the chicken is just about covered. Put the pot on medium-high heat covered, then bring to a simmer for 90mins.
Cut the head of cabbage in quarters then remove the core. Slice the cabbage as thin as possible or use a mandolin, then set aside in a large mixing bowl.
Slice the onions and add to the cabbage.
Add kosher salt and sugar to the cabbage and onions, toss and put in the fridge.
When the chicken Is fully cooked remove from the pot and cool till you can shred the meat and remove all the bones.
Add the shredded meat to the cabbage mixture then toss with lime juice, fish sauce, ground pepper, and mint.
Serve cold or room temp. Enjoy on its own or with rice.
858 Bloor St W. (Bloor & Ossington)
Sun to Thurs 6pm - 2am
Fri + Sat 6pm to 3am
p.s. You can get your Vit Béo across the city now - Delivery’s available to Civil Liberties, natch (it’s also a stone’s throw from the restaurant), Parkdale’s Pretty Ugly Bar procured an exclusive menu, and there’s a new satellite operation at Open House in Bloorcourt.