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Viet-Shack, Arndale, Reviewed.

L'Oréal Blackett goes via the Arndale Food Market for a quick-fire Viet lunch

Written by . Published on July 14th 2014.

Viet-Shack, Arndale, Reviewed.

THIS isn't the Manchester Arndale Market I once knew; where the pungent stench from the fish market would entwine with my hair as I bought knock-off Adidas trainers and boiled sweets. 

My lunch was served up rather than slopped together. There also wasn’t a generous helping of oil found in most fast-food places – and it was appreciated. 

Now, it's a brighter, smarter lunchtime destination welcoming good and solid eats - and they've popped that fish market at the far end.

New to the food line-up and tucked between a curry joint and popular burrito haunt, Panchos, there's tiny Vietnamese ‘street food’ luncheon, Viet-Shack. This is establishing a bit of a name for itself. 


Manchester Arndale Food Market

Most of the Arndale Market's (reviewed here) diverse food provisions are successful, yet Viet-Shack appeared to have won over the majority crowd and I joined a considerable queue.

Run by Nelson Lam, or 'Mr Shack', it’s Vietnamese cooking updated ‘inspired by mama’s good home cooking’. Lam's also exiled artificial additives and evil processed meats to lure in the health conscious. Mama would have wanted it that way, I suppose. 

VMr Shack

Typically these days, adding a modern element to a traditional dish means popping meat between a bun. It’s becoming massively underwhelming – even when it comes to choosing 12.30pm grub.

At Viet Shack you get all the token street food, with grilled steak and chicken burgers and we’ll refrain from commenting on the ‘Viet Dogs’, but there’s also salads, Vietnamese baguettes called ‘Banh- Mi’, and traditional meat and rice dishes.

They also appear to find a way to include lemongrass with most meals - which given the importance to South East Asian food is no surprise.

Regardless, I chose the BBQ pork chops with white rice.

Photo 2BBQ Pork with white rice (£5.50)

Unfazed by the food courts growing bustle, Viet Shack’s three-teamed staff stir-fried up my pork at lightning speed.

I found it hard to disguise my genuine surprise at the nicely balanced meal - all for as little as £5.50. In fact, it's the most expensive option on the menu, as most dishes averaged at £3. 

The Viet-Shack presented a good sized helping of crispy and spicy pork, drizzled (not smothered) with BBQ sauce, delivered on a fluffy bed of white rice and decorated with a small green salad.

Viet-ShackTucked between curry and burrito joints, Viet-Shack

My BBQ pork was visually appetising in the way most fast and purse friendly places aren’t. My lunch was served up rather than slopped together. I wasn't given a generous helping of oil found in most fast food places – and it was appreciated. Another plus for Viet-Shack. 

It was a generous portion, although mostly made up of white rice. Once I gobbled down the pork, I was left with a tray of the white stuff.

More of the well-prepared pork and a bigger helping of chilli ketchup would have gone down perfectly, as most have discovered no matter how well it's cooked, rice on its own is remarkably bland.

Yet that small blip is easy to overlook. The Arndale Food Market has come on leaps and bounds and Viet Shack's fresh, filling and health-conscious food is welcome to the fold. 

Follow L'Oréal Blackett on Twitter @LOreal_B


Viet-ShackArndale Food Market, Manchester Arndale, M4 3AH.

Rating: 15/20
Food: 8/10
Service: 4/5
Ambience: 3/5

PLEASE NOTE: Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing, 14-15 worth a trip, 16-17 very good, 18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away

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19 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

mancadamJuly 14th 2014.

Lemongrass in SE Asian food? whatever next....

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AmauryJuly 14th 2014.


Adam LynnJuly 14th 2014.

i think a small edit may have been made to the article after my comment....

Nickster123July 14th 2014.

Would be great if they could add some fish options to their menu!

AnonymousJuly 14th 2014.

"Once I gobbled down the pork, I was left with a tray of the white stuff." - C'mon, you're better than this!

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 14th 2014.


pollolocoJuly 14th 2014.

I agree.....went yesterday and had the lamb chops...very nice although the majority of the tray was padded out with boiled rice and salad. Next time I'll just ask for more meat and tell them to hold the rice.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 14th 2014.

Yeah they'll do that for you too because meat costs the same as rice doesn't it.

pollolocoJuly 21st 2014.

loads of rice, 3 very thin chops, the meat/rice ratio is totally out of kilter. Needs work

AnonymousJuly 14th 2014.

You're suppose to eat the rice with the meat, you know...

AnonymousJuly 15th 2014.

What i find works is to cut a small portion of meat/fish/veg from the tray/plate/slate then ensuring there is suitable amounts of sauce and meat on the fork, carefully scoop/press some rice onto the fork. **Now be careful here as there is a danger of spillage. Once you have balanced the meat/fish/veg/sauce/rice combo, carefuly place full fork into mouth. This allows a good even eat of all the contents of the tray, circumventing the issues of a "tray of white stuff"

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 15th 2014.

No No No she is right the meat to rice ratio is totally off balance! The meat is a bit pants too. Frankly the review is generous!

AnonymousJuly 15th 2014.

The horror... the horror...

MikeJuly 15th 2014.

Ran by Nelson Lam? Run surely?

Richard AthertonJuly 15th 2014.

I've opted for the Banh-Mi which was a delight to eat daily on the street in Vietnam. I was a little disappointed with this version as it failed to deliver the cold noodle salad which was ever present North/South, with additional choices of pate, or possibly cheese as a veg option. On the plus, the price was just about reasonable and the meat was tasty. Looking forward to trying other dishes.

Melissa ConnellyJuly 15th 2014.

opportunity to sell a little side sauce/ dressing for rice and salad here..... Been to Viet shack once, it was gorgeous! Everyone loves it!

AnonymousJuly 15th 2014.

There is no way to tell his story without telling my own. And if his story really is a confession, then so is mine.

Sharyn CaseJuly 15th 2014.

How can you rate the ambience 3/5? Its in a market hall, what sort of ambience are you after!!

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