100 Redriff Road, Surrey Quays, SE16 7LH | 020-7252-1212 | ingested 4 times in ’09 so far
If you’re looking for great Vietnamese Street food off the beaten track, this slick South-East London operation can compete with the best of the usual Kingsland Road haunts. Having relocated earlier this year from its once tiny shop-front on a Deptford residential street, it now has the luxury of space – a large, open plan premise in Surrey Quays Leisure Park which can easily seat up to 100 covers. Wait no more at Café East.
Spicy Pho Tai Chin
Less is more at this authentic caff which sticks to what it knows best, specializing in the few signature dishes which form the cornerstone of Vietnamese street cuisine, executing these to an exemplary standard. The Pho is the order of the day here – the clear, beef broth is both complexed and bursting with flavour…no doubt a result of many hours of simmering beef bones and meat with the holy trinity of star anise, cinnamon and ginger to form the soup-base. Available in either a mild or spicier option, it is served complete with your choice of beef (sliced or brisket, rare or well-done), the customary flat rice noodles and standard condiments of bean sprouts, basil, and lemon. Yummerz.
Bun Cha Nem Thit Nuong
If you’re not quite feeling a noodle soup, the lemongrass flavoured pork chops are amazing here. Try the Com Suon Bi Cha, a hearty combination of pork chop, meat-loaf and shredded pork skin, served with rice and spicy fish sauce. Bun Cha Nem Thit Nuoung( (BCNTN), a dry vermicelli herb salad served with the lemongrass pork, vietnamese spring rolls and peanuts is a lighter alternative if you are counting carbs. Supplement the mains with Goi Cuon (Prawn stuffed Summer Rolls) or Banh Cuon (Steamed rice Pastry stuffed with minced pork and mushroom) on the side. Wash this all down with Café East’s home-made drinks and desserts. My favourites are the Sam Bo Luong (a sweet Chinese herbal tea with dates, cloud’s ear fungus and jelly) and the Che Ba Mau (a tri-colour coconut cream drink of kidney beans and green jelly….reminiscent of a Malaysian Cendol). What helps here is the menu card – simple with bright illustrations for each and every dish, you know exactly what you are getting yourself into before you order.
Starters: Summer Rolls (left) and Banh Cuon (right)
With starters under a fiver and mains around £6 to £7, a kingly feast here would only set you back a tenner at most. Definitely worth the trek down to the south-east and an absolute must if you happen to be around the Canada Water area already.