The Vietnamese street food heroes are just about to open their first restaurant

Nelson Lam and his team at Viet Shack in the Arndale Food Market have been steadily building an army of regulars since they first opened in 2015, with diners flocking to the award-winning street food stall to get their daily fix of fresh, healthy and reasonably priced Vietnamese inspired street food.

We’re hoping to open in the next four to six weeks...

It became so popular that it even spawned offspring in occupying adjacent units in Fusion Lab, run by chef Brice Moore, and Gym Shack, a 'healthy protein kitchen'. There was even rumour that eventually all stalls in the Arndale Market were going to become some form of Lam-backed shack, but instead, he has decided to think outside the takeaway box and has announced that he will be opening a full-blown Viet Shack restaurant in Ancoats next month.

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Nelson Lam opened Viet Shack in 2015 and hasn't looked back

Lam will be taking over the unit on Great Ancoats Street that was until recently occupied by independent restaurant Squid Ink. (Owner Anthony Barnes decided to shut up shop to join forces with the soon to open Mana ‘wild dining’ restaurant nearby.)

With a mainly white interior, Lam tells us he is in the process of redecorating, adding a few colours in some areas and stripping back others to make it a little more ‘gritty and urban’ to reflect their fast food style.

“We’re hoping to open in the next four to six weeks,” Lam told us, “but we’re doing everything ourselves including the fit out and the redecorating. We’re even funding everything, so we’re still a totally independent business.”

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Viet Shack has taken over the empty Squid Ink site on Great Ancoats Street

Lam revealed that they’ll be adding a private dining room for hire and will be moving the bar to be able to include a seating area for guests to enjoy some Asian inspired cocktails and small plates. 

Lam himself will be running the kitchen, and says he has picked up enough from running Viet Shack over the past few years and working alongside chefs like Moore to feel confident enough taking on a 40 cover restaurant.   

...even in London there’s no place doing the sort of thing we’ll be doing

Obviously there will be a solid version of the Vietnamese national dish, pho (pronounced ‘fur’), an intensely flavoured bone broth cooked for eight to ten hours along with aromatic spices and herbs. 

There will also be dishes like rice rolls made from a steamed paste of flour and water, stuffed with minced pork and shitake mushroom to dip into a home made chilli and lime sauce.

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Viet Shack's famous quack fries are a hit with regulars

Lam has also been developing a special savoury crepe recipe stuffed with seafood, herbs and pork, replacing the usual water with beer in the batter to make it even lighter and crispier. He will also have a specialist pastry section working on interesting Asian desserts such as lychee macarons and pandan sponge cake with lemongrass and ginger crumb topped with homemade coconut ice cream.

“I’ve had a look around,” says Lam, “and even in London there’s no place doing the sort of thing we’ll be doing.”

Viet Shack will open at 67 Great Ancoats Street, M4 5AB sometime in August 2018.

There are a number of new bars, restaurants and coffeeshops opening in Ancoats this year... find out who is opening what and where here.