Food and the city..the hags are here to eat and then tell you about it!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

CAFÉ EAST

100 Redriff Rd
Surrey Quays
SE16 7LH
Telephone: 0208 691 7777

Opening times:
Mon - Fri:
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
5:30 pm - 10:30 pm
Sat - Sun:
11:00 am - 10:00 pm

Shop front

Fantastic news for everyone who thought Cafe East had died a quick death and forgot to send everyone an invite. We for one, were fully prepared to go into Pho whithdrawal and were managing the symptoms with diluted Kingsland Rd substitutes. On 11 April 2009 Chris re-opened in the above place and now has a Facebook loyalty page. Good onya Chris! We fully support you and believe this one will be even more of a success than the original. Hopefully via this blog the word of Cafe East's resurrection will spread furiously to all those in mourning. We will visit and update our opinions for the finest establishment for Pho in London soon. (BTW Westfield's Pho sucks big time...don't waste your time lining up for that rubbish.)
P.S. Chris - it sure would be nice to get recognition for the Facebook photos...they look very familiar...


I can’t believe it. A quick Google search of this kick-arse restaurant reveals – nada. I don’t know whether I should feel happy (that other patrons aren’t flocking to book out its limited table numbers) or sad (London’s best kept secret). This little oasis is owned by this guy Chris. Have no idea what his surname is. The interesting thing about Chris is that he’s actually Korean, born and bred in Australia (Brisbane I think) – AND he can speak Vietnamese, Cantonese and of course Korean. To boot he can switch between an Ocker and English accent. A word of caution. Every year around August he packs his bags for two months and closes his shop to go sailing who knows where. We normally go into Phở bò withdrawal. This little café doesn’t look like much from the outside – very low maintenance. Inside it doesn’t look like much either. Looks like a chipper with a couple of tables and chairs bung in. It only accommodates maybe 26 people in all. The menu is two sides of a laminated sheet with high-quality pictures. There’s not much on the menu but what they offer in brevity makes up in quality. Everytime I go there, Vietnamese people lounge on the seats slurping up bowls of steaming hot noodles.

Inside

Menu

Drinks

I consider myself as the connoisseur of Beef Noodle Soup (Phở bò). Ever since I can remember from maybe the age of eight, every week after my brother’s basketball game we would go to Cabramatta (a Vietnamese suburb in Sydney’s outskirts) for a steaming bowel of Phở bò. The patrons there only ever ordered the Phở bò as that was what they were famous for. It is that restaurant in Cabramatta against which I use as a measuring stick to compare other bowels of Phở bò. I wouldn’t say that Café East has gotten it completely right – but they are bloody damn close to it. (Check the Pho King and Noodle Pie out, it's all about Pho with some pretty lush pics.)

It’s ALL about the broth (depth of flavour, clarity), the quality of the raw beef on top, the correct ratio of noodles to meat. It MUST be steaming hot when it comes to the table. Then you have your usual condiments of fresh mint, basil, lime, bean sprouts, hot chillis and fish sauce (nuoc mam). That is how I like it anyway….other people use different sauces.

Pho Tai

I would also recommend the banh cuon, a simple dish consisting of a rice flour pancake (very soft and velvety smooth) stuffed full of minced pork, shrimp, mushroom, dried fungus, dried onion and fish sauce. They do this to perfection here.

Buon cuon

The summer rolls are quite OK. Rice paper rolled fresh spring rolls (none of that deep fried stuff) filled with fresh cooked prawns, pork and fresh herbs.

Summer rolls

Their Bun Cha is kick-arse too. Sweet, succulent grilled prices of pork with bite-sized pieces of pork spring rolls tossed in a fragrant bed of white noodles laced with loads of herbs. This is served with their own special sauce.

I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t tried anything else. Everytime I go, I feel I must experience different gustationary delights on their menu. But once I get there I just can’t leave without having their Phở bò mixing in with my gastric juices.

I’m actually glad only a small group of friends and the Vietnamese clan of south-east London know of this restaurant. When the restaurant is packed, the kitchen and staff actually have a hard time keeping up with the orders and the food tends to come cold. When I say kitchen, I mean the grandma and the boss.

The food is quite reasonably priced. For two people eating banh cuon for starters, two bowls of Phở bò and two coconut juices amounts to just over £20. Shhhhhh…..don’t tell anyone.

HRH

Wanna see more restaurant reviews by us?

13 Comments:

Anonymous Ralph Poole said...

What a wonderful site. I really appreciate your honesty and adventurousness. I went to Cafe East last night and had a big bowl of Pho. The beef was rare and, as you said the broth was flavorful. I recommend it to anyone.

7:29 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cool post dude... I have been to Cafe East once and it was great. I had the rice noodle rolls with minced pork and mushrooms inside - awesome! I would say the Pho at Pho An in Bankstown is better than in Cabramatta though.

Timbo

5:16 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know its good when the locals queue outside the place for a table, it is that good.

10:18 am

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is the BEST place for a real authentic bowl of Pho! quality food with a real Vietnamese touch! but be prepared for time, because when u finally arrive the queue is as long as the road can go! that must be telling u something if people are willing to give up their time to eat in this fantastic restaurant!!!!

12:58 am

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i would pay a million pounds to know the recipe of all these delcious dishes!!! it really is an awesome place to eat!!! hits the spot everytime!!!

12:59 am

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Try the curry rice - its the Best curry i've never had! My all time favourte used to be the Pho until i had the curry! I still couldn't forget how tasty it is.

12:17 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Been there a few times now... awesome! Highly recommended.

BTW, what's the correct phone number?

12:07 pm

 
Blogger Culinary Hag said...

Oops my fault!

Add another 7 at the end of the phone number. Anyway I have altered the phone number on the blog. I know it's correct as I order takeaway from there all the time!

HRH

12:58 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah I hear this place is all that - my friends rave abaout it .....all good for them but there is no vegetarian dishes AT ALL!!

8:38 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Do you know what their opening hours are?

10:16 am

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone, Go to any viet restaurant in a Australia and you get proper Pho like Cafe East. That's because the owner of Cafe East is an Aussie :) . The viet restaurants in Kingsland Rd are crap.

6:06 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey guys, the new phone number for Cafe East at 100 Redriff road is 020 7252 1212.
Cheers!

2:18 pm

 
Anonymous cheapeatlondon said...

Not sure I agree 100% with the reviews. The food here is good, no doubt about it, and the way the food is presented along with the great menu layout means it's accessible for all. There are some grotty looking places on Deptford High street and the food is better by taste, if not as well presented. Also people can be put off by the local local Vietnamese smoking cigs and playing cards.

Cafe East's standout items include the Pho, their curries, banh cuon, and great spring rolls. Their grilled meats (bun cha) are nothing special as the meat isn't seasoned correctly and the salad dressing is overly sweet. They don't have

This place does have a good reputation and they deserve it, because they have made Vietnamese food accessible and the food is consistently good but there is better and more genuine food served close by.

cheers
www.cheap-eat-london.com

1:50 pm

 

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