great vietnamese in soho. before I start talking about more restaurants I tried in france, I thought I’d intersperse it with a post on a london restaurant. cây tre in soho is the second branch of a first very much out of central london, and I can only imagine how good the food is there.
I’ve been here a couple times, and they do their pho very quickly. I generally go between the room-temperature dry vermicelli served with a sauce on the side, almost like a salad, and the soupy pho which comes with a very rich and tasty stock.
on this trip, we started with some grilled calamari served atop boiled/steamed okra, and it was very good. tender, not rubbery at all, and very tasty. my bun came very quickly – not the yeasted bread kind – a dish of rice vermicelli and tastily-seared prawns tossed with a sweet and sour thin sauce. very nice. my friends had the special pho and the seafood pho, and both were apparently very good.
I also saw what looked like near-exploding parcels in an oven near the bar, and was told it was pork belly – so that might be worth a try as it seems like it would give some proper crackling. we finished with a really bad dessert of grilled bananas and sago, which had so much potential. however, what we got was a stodgy dish of sago that didn’t taste of anything, and was merely stodgy and tasted bad, and the grilled bananas were not sweet at all and tasted like a mushy sort of tasteless potato. the banana was also grilled with I think what was a cover of sago or some other starchy covering, and it tasted burnt and hard and actually not of very much at all. a very bad dish. we told the lady at the front of the house that we didn’t like it and that it had tasted quite horrible, and she just told us that the banana fritters would have been a better choice. I had hoped for a much better response, but oh well.
in any case, go for the banana fritters if you want dessert here, or even better, go somewhere else for dessert. this place is as good as, or even better than the very-far-away cafe east which is oft touted as the best vietnamese in london and I highly recommend all the savoury dishes, as well as making a reservation here before you come as it gets crowded very quickly.
p.s. just for interest, the night we were there there was a party of 52 sitting down to dinner, so this tiny restaurant apparently can deal with very large parties, if you need it to.