London has many Vietnamese restaurants, but there’s nowhere quite like east London. Kingsland Road that connects Dalston to Shoreditch has so many great eateries it’s known as the “pho mile”. Londoners come in search of warming bowls of noodles, summer rolls and pho, naturally. And for the city’s Vietnamese community, it’s a taste of home – many of the places are family-run. Head down the pho mile for the best Vietnamese restaurants in Shoreditch.
Sông Quê Café
One of the busiest spots on the ‘pho mile’ is Sông Quê Cafe. It’s open from midday and is a great place to stop for a bowl of lunchtime pho. It’s pretty massive too, great for laid back dinners with friends. There’s no messing around with industrial lighting or overly-designed menus here – it’s all about great value meals and delicious flavours. The menu is too broad to do justice, but spicy squid and soft shell crab are firm favourites among regulars. Banh xeo (Vietnamese pancake ) with tofu is a great option for veggies and vegans, and you can get it with chicken or prawns too.
Another convivial spot for Vietnamese food is Viet Grill. It’s actually part of a trio of east-London restaurants including Cây Tre and Kêu. With its 60s cocktail-lounge wallpaper and decent cocktail menu to boot – it’s a great option for a lively Saturday night dinner. Stay upstairs if you want to be able to hold a conversation with your mates though, the basement gets a little noisy. But, the most satisfying sound is the sizzling grill, which as you might have guessed, is the speciality around here. Mains include Bò Lúc Lắc (shaking beef), Thịt Kho Trứng – a slow braised pork stew and Bò Kho and Cá Kho Tộ a claypot catfish dish. Veggie and vegan options are a little more limited, buinclude Cá ri chay, an okra and aubergine curry, and pho with tofu and vegetable broth. There is also a set menu for £28.00 per person.
Cây Tre now also has a second restaurant in Soho, but this is the original. This one is smaller and more old school. Set up by owner Hieu Trung to bring decent Vietnamese food to London, his contribution is still keeping customers happy. For a budget-friendly lunch, grab the set menu which is two courses for £12.90 wi8ith mains including pho (meat and veggie/vegan options), sauteed aubergine with rice, and vermicelli dishes.
Bún, Bún, Bún
This may be located on the “pho mile” but as the name suggests – the speciality is Bún cha, a caramelised pork and vermicelli salad from Hanoi. The website tells you how to pronounce it: “boon”, with a raised tone! The menu guides you through the different steps to layering up and getting the most out of your Bún too. The rest of the menu is a mix of street food and staple dishes from across Vietnam, including Phở đậu chay (tofu and vegetable pho), Cơm vịt rán (fried duck with sweet chilli sauce), and and Banh-mi Vietnamese baguettes. Mains range from £9.00–£16.00
Kêu Banh Mi Deli, Shoreditch High Street
A stone’s throw from Kingsland Road, Kêu is a Vietnamese café serving up banging banh mi and Saigon street food. Perfect for a quick lunch or cheap dinner – it’s the best kind of fast food: full of zingy flavours and plenty of crunch. There are few meaty and non-meat based versions of the classic sandwich, including grilled tofu and aubergine, coconut curry and braised beef brisket – all at £9.30, and you know we value a good-quality sandwich around here. Other highlights include the chicken curry, wonton soup, and mixed-seafood pho, with mains priced around £12.00-13. Wash it all down with a Hanoi beer or a Saigon lime soda.