On the Plate: Viet Shack

Where: Ancoats, like you are walking to where Toys R Us was from the NQ
Price: Justified
Tastiness Factor: 💯
Return Custom: Yus, I need to eat all the things!

So I have been visiting Viet Shack for over a year now in its original Arndale Market home. The Arndale market isn’t the best place to eat food, it is super busy, smells like fish and doesn’t look all that great, but it is a great hub for buying independent and low-cost food. I don’t really get why the food court is necessary compared to this place. I mean I do, familiar takeaway food for the disengaged and lazy masses lured by the quick and cheap high-calorie fix that the capitalist pigs have tricked us into wanting through years of exploitation. I have eaten there a couple of times. But the food market is also quick and reasonably priced with a wider variety of choice of much tastier foods. This is where Viet Shack started, a restaurant that I believe will be one of the best loved restaurants in Manchester. It already has a strong following of market patrons that queued outside for a seat on opening night.

So what’s all the fuss about? For me, Viet Shack combines the fantastic fresh flavours of Vietnamese cuisine with the western palate for fast food, creating unique dishes for modern food truck-loving tastes. The Quack Fries, for example, is one of my favourite dishes, crispy spiced fries topped with juicy duck breast, chillies, spring onion and drizzled with chilli jam. Salty, umami with a sweet and spicy zing, Quack Fries are where it is at. So much so that when struggling to decide what to eat out of the the many mouth-watering menu options I ordered a main meal and shared the fries with my tall friend as a generous side. By generous side for two, I mean as a single dish eaten by one person there is a big plate of food to enjoy. This reflects the change in price from the market days and the move towards restaurant-style dining on meals rather than quick bites. I would say that the prices have almost doubled, but the portions are larger and there are clear costs of running a restaurant that need to be covered. Plus, in relation to the prices of the similar fooderies in the area they are pretty spot on.

My main meal was the lemongrass chicken with sticky rice. Healthier than the fries but just as tasty. The chicken was cooked perfectly and really well seasoned. There weren’t any other flavors to contend but there were little bottles of sriracha and hoisin sauce on each table if you want to add a little something. Plus the addition of fresh carrot and salad to the dish was quite welcome so the meal wasn’t a meaty carboload.

I think that something Viet Shack could offer is side dishes, they do small plates but sometimes you just want a little something extra rather than lots of smaller things. I liked when it was the market stall and it was reasonable to order more than one dish, like a salad with fries, but now the portions and prices have increased this isn’t so easy unless you have a tall friend who can fill his legs with what you can’t manage. Now, I’m not just saying this because I want to eat nearly everything they have, because I can go back to do that. Ordering a smaller salad or portion of veg/carbs is a good way to give customers more options to balance out their meals and also make additional sales without having to create new menu items. Sides are just bits from meals that are already available. Man, I didn’t realise I was so passionate about this…

Anyway, I’m going back for a burger and you should go to. Take a date and impress them with how cool and trendy you are as well as sharing a fantastic meal.

P.S. I you do venture out to the Arndale market check out the younger sibling of Viet Shack- Fusion Lab, you won’t be disappointed.

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