Copenhagen has so many amazing diners that sometimes you miss out on the small food businesses that are hidden away in the shadows of bigger restaurants. People often have very low expectations of those little food joints, which makes the whole experience more memorable when they are presently surprised with a remarkable meal. However, not every little place surpassed everyone’s expectations, but I assure you District Tonkin will.
District Tonkin is truly a diamond in the rug. Perpendicular to one of Copenhagen’s famous streets (Store Kongensgade) and below eyesight level, is a small basement that has been re-furnished into an unbelievably good Vietnamese restaurant.
Line, a close friend of mine, called me up one day and asked if I was in the mood for Vietnamese food. I had never really had Vietnamese food before so I decided it was about time I did. We biked over to District Tonkin and went down the steps into a small and cozy basement.
As we walked in, a wave of spices embraced us. The smell was sweet, salty, fresh and rich all at the same time! It smelled of soy, lemongrass, ginger, mint, coriander, lime, chili and a million other things that worked so well together and immediately triggered our appetite.
The place makes the best out of a small space. There are small tables pressed up against the windows, bar tables and stools pressed against the walls, and right at the center, is a huge rustic styled dining table that can easily fit 12! We found a place at the dining table, sitting across from another couple, and read through the menu. Not very long after, we headed over to the counter to order our food, we could not bear the delicious smell any longer, it was torturing us, we needed food now! The smell was so mouth-watering that we were unwilling to wait any longer.
I ordered their classic Bánh Mì with beef and my friend got the same with chicken, for those of you who don’t know, a Bánh Mì is the Vietnamese take on a baguette. We impatiently waited for our order, and once it arrived we dug in. For the first five minutes of eating, we did not speak to each other, we only communicated by moans. The Bánh Mì was just out of this world. The minced meat is fried in different spices and oils so it is crunchy, juicy and tasty. The vegetables (sliced carrots, cucumber and daikon radish) were crunchy and fresh, the baguette had a crisp crust and was soft and bouncy inside, and it was all topped with a generous handful of fresh coriander. The whole thing came together so perfectly.
We exchanged a few bites between us and their chicken Bánh Mì was just as good. It had a sweet glaze that worked so well with the pickled vegetables.
So if you are ever in the city, and you are craving something fresh, cheap and packed with flavor. Don’t forget District Tonkin.
Little tip: the place is rather small, so it’s best to come at less popular hours.
Where: Dronningens Tværgade 12, 1302 København K