AD/REVIEW – we were guests of SUUM Vietnamese Kitchen
Big Sis and I LOVE trying new foods. Lil Sis… not so much.
But, to give her credit, she really is trying to venture outside of her Margherita pizza and salad box. When I announced that we were going to lunch at Suum, a Vietnamese restaurant with a kids’ menu to make even the fussiest mouth water, she was wary to begin with, then tentatively looking forward to it.
Big Sis, on the other hand, couldn’t wait to go. ‘Will they have fried rice?’ she asked (it’s her favourite). ‘We’ll find out soon,’ I replied, we drove to the pretty riverside town of Marlow, Buckinghamshire.
Suum is derived from ‘sum vầy’, which means a cozy gathering around the dining table, and that’s exactly the feel you get when you walk through the doors. Dark wooden tables, intricate tiles and lampshades woven from cane give the restaurant a cool contemporary south-east Asian feel, while the friendly waiting staff instantly make you feel welcome.
SUUM is the baby of owners Nhung and Nhan, who travelled to the UK as students in the early 2000s and desperately missed the simple, tasty dishes of their hometown, Hai Phong. They began to source fresh traditional ingredients locally, so they could recreate their favourite Vietnamese dishes at home.
For years they dreamed of sharing the genuine taste of Vietnam with all their friends, and in 2017 the family-run restaurant opened its doors to the public. All the flavour-packed recipes are prepared with authenticity and love – in the same way a Vietnamese family cooks for each other at home.
Continuing on with its strong family focus, Suum has just launched a delicious new children’s menu filled with South-east Asian recipes kids will love, and at the pocket-friendly price of just £6.85 for two courses and a drink.
After much deliberation, the girls decided on spring rolls, wild betel leaf, pho noodle soup and Vietnamese fried rice. Meanwhile, I wanted to try a few different flavours, so I went for three starters – the soft-shell crab, chilli squid and the Sai Gon sizzling pancake stuffed with prawns, bean sprouts, chicken and spring onions.
The crab and chilli squid were absolutely delicious, but the pancake… Oh. Migod!
It was crispy on the outside and stuffed full of juicy prawns and shredded chicken and crunchy beansprouts, and I’m literally still dreaming about it, two weeks later. Even though they were were starter dishes, the sizes were really generous. Once I’d had a little pick at the girls’ choices too (for research purposes, obviously) I found I was nicely, perfectly full.
The kids’ sizes were big too – although no match for the girls, who completely polished off the rice, made a huge dent in the noodle soup and managed to take a few cheeky swipes at my chilli squid too.
I was particularly impressed with Lil Sis, who admitted she’d really enjoyed lunch (she didn’t love EVERY dish, but it was still a huge improvement for my super-finicky eater).
We finished with a juice for the girls and a Vietnamese drip coffee for me, sweetened with condensed milk (yes, it was as yummy as it sounds). I’m already looking forward to our next trip back – there’s sizzling pancake with my name on it!
• fancy cakes and daughter dates – read about our lavish afternoon tea at the Laura Ashley tea rooms