Where: Buddha Jazz, Denmark Hill With whom: The Vole How much?: £18 in total on food, easily enough for two
It's not often that I want to like somewhere as much as I want to like Buddha Jazz. It's local to me, they focus on good quality Vietnamese food and they seem to really care about what they're doing. The staff are friendly but not obsequious and around half of the tables in the low lit, 'Viet-vague' themed front room were full of the happy middle class of Camberwell enjoying their early Saturday night.
The menu is Viet, with strong influences, hence some of the items on the Dim Sum menu and a large small plate list. Alongside the standards I spot a pork beancurd skin roll and some interesting kimchee dumplings. I go for an old favourite to start, the salt and chilli squid. It's got the flavour, but boy is it chewy. A little greasy as well, but to be honest, it just felt like it had been sat around for a bit. To go with it, we had some very acceptable steamed BBQ pork buns and a refreshing prawn spring roll, nothing exceptional but both well and seemingly freshly prepared. To be honest, I'd always rather go for starters...
The grilled pork in lemongrass was also slightly disappointing. Well seasoned and cooked, but the dish itself didn't deliver any more. Just the pork on a bed of (sightly too) sticky rice with a spicy chilli vinegar to give some liquid. Fundamentally, it's just not a great combination. Next time I'll be going for one of their excellent Bun Hue style noodles with seafood.