Little Saigon, Vietnam

January 4, 2016

Little Saigon hits the nail on the head with street food as a family owned restaurant that immerses guests in traditional Vietnamese culture, illuminated with a contemporary twist.

Bringing authentic Vietnamese street-food to a discerning East London crowd, Little Saigon is a brand new 100-seater family owned restaurant based in one of London’s most vibrant areas. With a dream to bring their family’s cooking to a wider audience, the Pham family opened their debut Leytonstone restaurant in May 2015.

With London-based interior design studio Avocado Sweets’ expertise, lead by designer Evros Agathou, the restaurant now appeals to the local London market, capturing a casual street-food vibe while maintaining a strong link to the Vietnamese family’s cultural traditions. Street-food in Vietnam is a laid-back affair with friends, served at low-level tables on the street outside a restaurant. To create the right pared-back atmosphere indoors for Little Saigon, the building was stripped back to its original shell to start afresh.

“We installed exposed steel ventilation ducting on the ceiling, and painted the steel support beams and an original brick wall in pastel colours,” said Agathou. “Using these bare bones as a base, we built the design layering colour and texture to the building’s structure in order to create a pared-back, yet playful and stimulating interior.”

The lighting was a crucial part of giving the design an individual yet authentic feel. New York-based lighting brand Niche Modern’s smoky glass pendants from the Edison Industrial range, were selected, speckled throughout in a range of shapes and pastel colours echoing the paper lanterns found in Vietnam, giving an original twist to the well-known look. A dynamic playfulness was injected by adding colour to the varying textures of the building’s structure, a theme reflected in the lighting products used. Further to this, light modern chairs and an original wall mural add to the playful and creative feel of the laidback restaurant.

Meanwhile, vintage tables provide an earthy quality to the seating, exposing the raw of tradition of Vietnamese culture, with vibrant pieces of art depicting scenes from Vietnamese life. An open window into the kitchen provides tantalising glimpses of activity, while being careful not to overwhelm the space. A selection of low-level tables and chairs are on offer for those who want to experience their food in the truly traditional Vietnamese style.

As the Pham family’s first venture in food, Little Saigon has proved a success with queues outside the door from day one. Owner Robert Pham commented on the family’s collaboration with the interior designer: “We have been very impressed with Evros’ ability to deliver an identity that perfectly symbolises our thoughts and vision, conveying the stylish and modern image we were seeking. He made it personal. It’s brilliant to have someone feel and understand what we felt, and to transform that feeling into an amazing interior.”

With Niche Modern’s trinkets of light echoing the low glow of Vietnamese street dining, Little Saigon brings home the comfort and colourful flavour of South East Asian cuisine, letting everyone experience the traditional Pham-ily flavour.

Image credit: Andrew Beasley