Published on December 17th, 2015 | by Gavin0
Cây Tre, Soho
Summary: So authentic, you no longer need to backpack around Hanoi to enjoy Vietnamese Street Food
Vietnamese food has suddenly become all hipster. What was once confined to Wing Yip shopping complexes and suburbs harbouring local Vietnamese communities, have become the hot topic of conversation when your impressively bearded mate utters the words “I know this great little place…”.
One of the purveyors of this revolution is The Vietnamese Kitchen, a group responsible for the popular Viet Grill restaurant in Shoreditch and the various Keu! Vietnamese sandwich shops around London. I must confess that despite hearing good things, I haven’t visited any of their sites before, so for my latest review, I’ve come to Cây Tre in Soho.
From what I gather, Cây Tre is the laid back older brother of the faster paced Viet Grill, which suits me just fine as I’m not one to rush through my lunch break. It’s a good job I’ve booked though because the bright, modern restaurant is brimming for lunch, who knew so many people had a hankering for soups and summer rolls on their lunch hour?
It’s undisputed that Pho (pronounced fur) is the pin-up dish; the 18hour slow cooked broth similar to Ramen is celebrated throughout the venue, they even have a separate menu just for all the variations on offer! As a relative novice though, I found it all a bit overwhelming, and could easily be cut down to a handful of recommendations.
Before the main event though, we get to trying some of the non-broth based dishes on offer.
First up is the outstanding Banh Cuon. Being a seasoned food blogger, most would expect me to get stuck in (after a few photos for Instagram of course), but I genuinely don’t know how to tackle these little wonders. For my first attempt I go for the Neanderthal approach by picking it up and taking a bite, but this just doesn’t seem right. Slightly embarrassed, I call over the waitress who is more than happy to give me a crash course.
It turns out that the thing I thought was a finger bowl actually turns out to be a rather tasty chilli broth, and when the roll is dipped in (using chopsticks), they are magically transformed into one of the best things I’ve ever tasted- seriously I could have eaten them all afternoon and left with a spring in my step.
Likewise, the Chilli Salt and Pepper Squid (£8.50) my guest orders are surprisingly pleasurable. Normally I avoid calamari because I find it way too oily, but they’ve managed to keep these a grease free zone.
However the best dish is the extravagant Mekong Catfish (£9.50). Served in a claypot and sizzling in a caramelised fish sauce under a flame, everything about it is impressive. To describe the taste as ‘melt in your mouth’ is too cliché for me, but I can’t remember ever eating fish that would make me seriously consider giving up meat, but if I had to, THIS would make it all the more bearable.
And finally I meet the famous pho. After much deliberation I choose a spicy beef pho (£10.50) that comes with more than a generous helping of meat, noodles, and seasoning. Judging by the portions I can see why this is such a popular lunchtime retreat, however it’s the flavour of the broth that is the real treat- maybe I was too hasty in condemning the pho menu.
My first experience of The Vietnamese Kitchen is an overwhelmingly positive one and well worthy of the hype. So if you find yourself in East London or the West End and in need of a delicious, filling meal, I know this great little place…
Cây Tre Soho, 42 Dean St, W1D 4PZShare This Post