Viva Restaurant's shrimp vermicelli is simple, fresh and flavorful.
At some restaurants, you make repeat visits to try different dishes each time. And then there are other restaurants where you keep going back for the same thing over and over again. You just can't help yourself.
For my husband and I, Viva Restaurant is synonymous with one dish. Regulars will tell you there are oodles of great dishes on the epic menu of this Vietnamese eatery in Winnipeg's West End. But for us, nothing beats the shrimp vermicelli. The meal in a bowl includes: a heaping pile of translucent rice vermicelli noodles; ribbons of vibrant carrots; crisp bean sprouts; crumbled and crushed peanuts; and tangy Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese fish sauce).
But honestly, there is just something about the way they barbecue shrimp that's divine. Gently seasoned, the tender, pink morsels are scored with blackened marks from a searing hot grill. The result? Pure barbecue flavour that's not masked with raging-hot spices or sugary-sweet sauces. Put all the components together and you have a bowl of simply prepared, unencumbered fresh food that's hard to beat. It's a totally accessible meal that won't scare away Vietnamese-food neophytes or the ethnic-food averse.
Located west of downtown on Sargent Avenue, Viva has a huge lunchtime following and, by all accounts, a busy take-out business as well. The 50-seat restaurant opened in 1993 and is a gem in Winnipeg's thriving ethnic food scene.
In some restaurants, decor is often a second (or even third) thought. Cafeteria lighting, stark decor and mismatched chairs and tables don't always lend themselves to a sophisticated setting. (There is an element of unvarnished charm in some of those places, it could also be argued.) At Viva, the setting is polished and modern with dark wood furnishing and original photography gracing the walls.
The menu also includes flavour-drenched lime and basil-infused soups, stewed fish and Vietnamese subs (banh mì) for good measure. Whatever you decide to eat, just make sure you order the shrimp vermicelli too.
Vietnamese cuisine is a hot culinary trend, so where is your favourite place to eat it? Leave a comment about a hidden Winnipeg gem or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we make sure it’s covered in upcoming posts!