Top 5 Vietnamese Restaurants in London
As our Vietnamese Language of the Month draws to a close continue practising your language skills at the best Vietnamese restaurants in London, as chosen by our language tutor Nhi Vinh Chu.
If you are a fan of Vietnamese food, then the name 'Kingsland Road' needs no further explanation; but for those new to Vietnamese cuisine or those looking for a good restaurant, then Kingsland Road (nearest station is Hoxton over ground) in Hackney is the place to go. The I am told that it is known as 'Little Saigon' or 'Little Vietnam' perhaps because it's the only place where you can find dozens of Vietnamese cafes and restaurants in one street and all within walking distance of each other. At the last count, there were 14 restaurants with more springing up every now and then. Below is a rough guide to the top five restaurants:
1. Best for 'Bánh cuốn' (steamed rolls) - Loong Kee
134G Kingsland Road, E2 8DY
This is often the top choice for most Vietnamese as their 'Bánh cuốn' is arguably the best in London. 'Bánh cuốn' is made from rice flour paste which is steamed into thin crepes filled with minced pork and chopped mushrooms or prawns and is eaten dipped into the signature sweet and sour fish sauce. A dish of 16 small rolls cost £6.00. Their menu is easy to use with lots of pictures of delicious dishes to tantalise you while pondering what to order.
2. Best for 'Phở' [pronounced 'fur'] - Sông Quê
134 Kingsland Road, E2 8DY
If you like 'Phở' and have been searching for that perfect meal-in-a-bowl rice noodle soup, then you won't be disappointed with the large selection, 23 varieties in all, of 'Phở' on their menu. The most popular is rare beef noodle. Why is their 'Phở' so yummy? Well, in their own words...
'We at Sông Quê Café know that the heart of our delicious 'Phở' is the full and rich broth. We simmer the choicest cuts of beef for hours on end, adding seven different types of herbs and spices to give the irresistible aroma and taste. Once ladled over rice noodles, your choice of beef cut and garnished with coriander and onions the 'Phở' is complete. Served with fresh basil leaves, bean sprouts and red chillies ready to adorn the ultimate in noodle soups.'
If you don't mind the long wait for a table as it is very popular and is often packed, and can overlook the poor service when the staff are too busy to attend to you, and if you think noisy background from other eaters enhances the atmosphere then you will enjoy dining at this cafe. If not, read on.
3. Best for Peace and Quiet – Anh Đào
106-108 Kingsland Road, E2 8DY
This lovely restaurant is best for when you want to eat and be able to chat to your friends. All the furniture is shipped in from Vietnam to create an authentic look. Despite being open since 2010, it is still a well-kept secret for now, so you can enjoy your meal in peace. Food wise, unlike other restaurants, their chef is from Northern Vietnam and specialises in seafood dishes. The owner often goes to Billingsgate fish market at 4am, before proceeding to New Spitalfields for vegetables as they use fresh ingredients for their authentic recipes. Their spring rolls are the best: crunchy and full of flavour.
4. Best for Vegetarian - Tây Đô
64-65 Kingsland Road, E2 8DY
Once, this place was the most popular for diners as they offer a large variety of dishes; their menu boasts 224 items, 31 of which are vegetarian dishes. The starter spicy tofu is delicious. You are spoilt for choice here with so many dishes for you to go through. If you fancy meat dishes, the char-grilled goat was highly praised in the Time Out magazine. I love their beef wrapped in betel leaf which is an experience because you have to make your own rolls before eating your creation.
5. Best for Gourmet dining – Green Papaya
97 Kingsland Road, E2 8DY
Being the latest addition to the many restaurants in this area, Green Papaya aims to appeal to those looking for something with a difference: a blend of world cuisine and authenticity. Fans of the place rave about the great 'atmosphere'. For me, I love the dessert menu: black sesame and green tea ice cream and their boiled rice is good enough to eat it on its own.
I have negotiated a 10% discount for all Morley's staff and students as a part of the Vietnamese Language of the month activity. Just quote ref 'Morley College'.