There was a time, not so long ago, when the British will have associated Asian food with battered meat and sticky neon-coloured sauce, but the freshness and vibrancy of the Orient’s cuisine has finally been embraced by UK diners.

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Family-run Vietnamese restaurant Ben Tanh opened in Twickenham last October, shunning the trend for fusion food and embracing fresh and traditional Vietnamese dishes.

The restaurant is run by Phuong, whose grandparents ran an eatery in the Ben Tanh markets of Saigon and whose mother would test her cooking on her children, making them try the same dishes again and again until the taste was perfect.

Phuong’s mother works in the kitchen at Ben Tanh, and her devotion to flavour was certainly evident in the Bo Tai Chanh we were recommended as a starter. Sliced medium rare beef dressed in lime juice with Vietnamese herbs and vegetables, it was simply delicious and bursting with distinct, fresh flavour.

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For the main course, the Bun Ga Nurong, lemongrass chicken with noodles and salad, was another excellent dish, the many diverse ingredients so well-balanced that each maintained its distinct flavour. Crunchy, fresh vegetables, crushed peanuts and fried onions combined with the zingy lemongrass chicken for a satisfyingly authentic taste.

We were treated to a very special filter coffee, made from beans that had passed through a species of weasel. The Vietnamese civet cats are coffee connoisseurs that sniff out the best beans to eat, before fermenting them with stomach acids and breaking down the proteins for an incredible rich and smoky flavour. The filter coffee gave us plenty to discuss and was a perfect end to an excellent meal.

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