100 Redriff Rd
Telephone: 0208 691 7777
Mon - Fri:
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
5:30 pm - 10:30 pm
Sat - Sun:
11:00 am - 10:00 pm
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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