“Our focus will be on authentic homemade Vietnamese food,” Robert Pham told us at the time. “We want to bring a rich and deep flavour experience to fellow Leytonstoners. The menu will include all your well known favourites, such as beef pho, crispy pancakes and summer rolls.”
Robert’s dad came over to the UK in the early 1980s. “My mum and older sister joined him shortly after, and I was born in Hackney, but raised in Walthamstow for much of my life. Our family have worked in Leytonstone, in the nails industry, for 15 years.”
So why a restaurant now? “It’s always been a dream for my mum,” he said. “And I’m very happy now to be able to help her realise it.”
Little Saigon was an instant hit – and, in 2018, the family renamed it District Một, retaining its colourfully chic, contemporary-industrial interior, adorned with murals, rugs, wooden tables and colourful plastic seating.
On the many Friday nights we swung by it was buzzing with locals, and the food was sheer no-brainer deliciousness: highlights over the years have included crispy Vietnamese pancakes, pork patties, warming pho, seafood crispy noodles, spring rolls, pad Thai and salt, pepper and chilli aubergine. Yum.
We had noticed that since lockdown eased the opening hours have been a little sporadic, but it was still a surprise when this week the Phams said that “it’s with great sadness we have decided to close down permanently, after many years of allowing us to serve you many of Mama Pham’s delicious homemade dishes.”
They go on to say: “it has been a very long and hard year and a half, not just for us, but for all other independent businesses out there like ours which rely on indoor eating more than anything. Our whole family would like to thank each and every one of you for walking through our doors and allowing us the joy of cooking for you and your families, thank you for your continued support for all these wonderful years. Where one chapter ends another begins. Goodbye for now. The Pham Family.”
Fingers crossed they take another unit – perhaps something a bit smaller – in the area. But what will become of this rather spacious outlet on Leytonstone High Road? Isn’t it now the spot for that long awaited branch of Eat 17? Let us know what you think on social media.