Little V Restaurant is a very highly rated restaurant in the Chinatown area of The Hague. The cuisine is Vietnamese and includes many vegetarian and gluten free options. There are dishes suited to sharing or devouring solo and a simply astounding range of drinks.
The Tripadvisor for Little V features amusing discord. There seem to be almost exactly the same number of claims that the food is authentically Vietnamese as claims that it is not. There is broad consensus that regardless of authenticity the food and service are excellent. People also seem to agree that the Hot Mama cocktail of Cachaca (fermented sugarcane juice) with Spanish Peppers is an absolute must to try.
On warmer days sitting outside within the Rabbijn Maarsenplein square on chunky wooden benches supplied with cushions and blankets is appealing. Inside there is an open kitchen and rustic but elegant decor.
Little V for the gluten free diner
During my pre visit call I spoke to a host who was familiar with celiac. He assured me that there were plenty of gluten free menu options and that Little V was capable of managing cross contamination risk.
There is a Little V English menu online, hurrah! It does not include any allergen information nor is there any indication on the Little V website or social media about catering gluten free. At Little V there are dedicated gluten free menus. These are only in Dutch. Menu items are however numbered so a combination of the Dutch Gluten Free Menu plus the regular English language menu allows navigation. Staff were also both happy and capable of responding to allergen related questions and giving guidance.
There are gluten free options among almost all the menu sections. Street Snacks, Soups, Salads, Meat and Fish dishes. There are several options that are both gluten free and vegetarian or vegan but the menu does offer a lot more depth for seafood and meat eaters.
I enquired about the use of Soy Sauce and received assurance it was not used. After this the host pro-actively brought for my inspection a bottle of the Oyster sauce which is used in many dishes. This Oyster Sauce was also utterly delicious and added a rich umami flavour to my veggie dishes. It is somewhat similar to Tamari Sauce and Coconut Aminos but with a distinct character of its own. Oyster Sauce also usually is made using wheat but this one isn’t. It is Lee Kum Kee Gluten free Oyster Sauce,and is available for purchase online within the UK.
Alas no gluten free desserts. For once I will not grumble at all since the range of drinks, including smoothies, smoothies and teas is truly astounding and provides plenty to explore.
Little V gluten free dishes
I opted for a veggie and herb filling within Gio Cuon Rice Paper Spring Rolls. Chicken, Beef and Shrimps are other available fillings. The rolls were very well wrapped, allowing me to thoroughly soak them them in delicious dipping sauce without fear of disintegration. The mixed veggies provided wonderful textures, crispy and crunchy, and a sweet chili sauce delivered spicy flavour. The rice paper wraps held everything together perfectly whilst adding scarcely any calories or carbohydrates. A very happy start.
Next I chose a ‘Bun’ dish which included Tempeh. Tempeh is found far more rarely than Tofu and whenever I do find it I order it. I can enjoy tofu too,but it is a very highly processed form of soy. In contrast tempeh is simply whole soy beans fermented using a bacterial culture. My ‘Bun’ had Tempeh, Chinese Broccoli, Greens, Herbs & the umami-sensation Oyster Sauce. This dish offered contrasting flavours, the firm but yielding Tempeh texture and the crispness of the long greens. Oyster Sauce was the primary flavour but complimented well by fresh herbs.
My third dish commanded an over-large platter that would barely fit by itself on many restaurant dining tables. This was a Bahn Xeo, Coconut Milk Pancake with Bean Sprouts, Shrimp, Lettuce and fresh Basil, & Coriander. As it was brought out my server offered me some explanation and demonstration of “how” to eat it. I think I was supposed to assemble a giant wrap. I failed completely to do so but still cherished my first ever Coconut Milk Pancake. The stand out flavour elements were a light texture similar to that of crisps and a mild but adorable coconut flavor.
As much as I seek our variety I would very happily order all three dishes again on my next visit to savour the wonderful textures and flavours.
Little V drinks
I rarely pay attention to drinks menus. I don’t drink alcohol and prefer food to sweet and sugary juices. I do try to check for the presence of gluten free beers and report them if present. If there are some nice mocktails I mention that too. Little V deserves more! Far more!
I relish the masochist pleasure of being confronted by tyranny of choice. The dilemma of having so many good choices and the looming threat of regret that there is something just a bit better than the thing I am about to select. I feel that someone at Little V set out to make selecting a drink just about the most difficult thing I needed to do all day. Or all week.
I adopted a tactic of surrender. I gave up trying to choose the drink I expected would be most pleasurable and just picked one with a cool name. The Obi Wan. Obi Wan is the name for an Orange, Mango & Mint smoothie. Why Obi Wan? No idea. Orange, Mango & Mint smoothie!
So sure, I passed on the Saigon Passion described as a “fruity explosion of passion fruit, mango and red fruity tea”. I passed on the Miss Saigon of “Lychee Juice, shaken with Rose Syrup & Kwai Feh”. Bookmarked for the future. After dozens of visits I might even use the option, literally on the menu, of “Special Request”. The description for this is simply “If you have any special requests, just smile at our Bartender”. I am daydreaming of a Mango, Kiwi, Lychee and Passionfruit smoothie right now. The drinks menu is not online so sit down with something nice and window shop using the picture below :-)
Little V Restaurant Recommendation
Things I loved included –
- Gluten Free Safety
- Very friendly and helpful host and servers
- Plenty of whole food, plant based dishes (with far more options for meat eaters)
- Generous quantities
- Simply incredible range of drinks
- Sitting out in the square, with fresh air and dancing parakeets for entertainment
Minor points for improvement include:
- Making the gluten free menu available online
- Creating a gluten free menu in English
- Adding gluten free desserts
This is another place I can happily recommend for solo diners, couples and groups seeking a great casual dining experience. In colder months, do be aware that this is a very popular place and that reservations are needed for indoor tables.
Google, take us to Little V!
Little V will be featured in a Gluten Free Guide to the Hague I am preparing. Please subscribe or follow me via Facebook or Twitter to ensure you see it. Until then hit the tag The Hague Gluten Free for more reviews.