I think Cay Tre is one of the best, if not the best, Vietnamese restaurants in London, and I can only say that after having been to Vietnam and afterwards on the menu of Cay Tre finding dishes that I had in the most remote smallest restaurants in Vietnam. In Cay Tre you can get almost every typical and non that common Vietnamese dish. It is remarkable to have a restaurant in London that is so authentic and that I can go to and have dishes I never thought I would find in London.
On a Sunday morning my boyfriend was craving some pho soup (traditional Vietnamese soup found everywhere in Vietnam), like he does on most weekends after our recent trip to Vietnam. I suggested we go to Cay Tre, as I had not been there in a while and my boyfriend and I had our first date there, so it is a very memorable place for us, and we had not gone back there ever since that date. Cay Tre has two branches, one located in Soho, where we went, and another one in Shoreditch, close to all the other Vietnamese restaurants there.
I had only been to Cay Tre in the evening, when it is usually packed and you could end up waiting for some time for a table, and even though Soho was deserted on this rainy Sunday, Cay Tre at 12.30 was still quite busy, although not full. The interior is very trendy, almost too trendy, as you would expect this sort of amazing street food they serve in a more casual environment. The décor is sort of industrial/ modern/ trendy and I do very much like it.
When I got the menu I was amazed. I found so many of the regional specialties there, like Mekong Hot & Sour Soup, and La Vong Grilled Monkfish, a fish dish that is only found on one street in Hanoi, as well as other dishes that were particular to a region of Vietnam, like the Saigon curries. As this was an incredible selection of dishes on the menu, I had problems choosing what I wanted to eat, as I wanted everything, but in the end we ordered the La Vong Grilled Monkfish as we so much enjoyed it in Hanoi, beef Pho for my boyfriend and a dish of rice vermicelli noodles, beef and Vietnamese herbs served with a Vietnamese typical sauce.
The interesting thing about all these dishes was that they tasted absolutely authentic and like they would taste in the middle of Vietnam, but despite this Cay Tre uses meat and fish that is always British. First arrived the La Vong Grilled Monkfish, which was £7.50/ person and it was minimum for 2 people. The price was surprisingly good as in Hanoi in a really grubby restaurant we paid £5.7/ person. Also this monkfish was apparently caught daily in Devon and yet was so authentic Vietnamese and delicious. For those that don’t know Cha Ca La Vong is a restaurant in Hanoi that serves only one thing, this dish Cha Ca, which is white fish fried with Galangal, turmeric, dill and we got exactly the same one in Cay Tre. Just like in Hanoi, the waiter brought us a cooker with flames and in front of us, on our table, cooked the fish with galangal, turmeric and dill and then in front of us assembled the dish with rice noodles, peanuts and Vietnamese sauce. It was great to watch the waiter do this, just like we had watched the waiter in Hanoi, and the end result was a beautiful and authentic dish and I had never thought I would ever be able to find a restaurant in London that did this dish that only one restaurant in Hanoi does, but Cay Tre surprised me.
Next we were brought the beef pho, authentic Vietnamese soup, which I thought was very authentic but just like in Vietnam some of the pieces of beef in the soup were not top quality beef, and my boyfriend did not really like that, but it was authentic. We were also brought a huge dish of rice noodles with chicken, Vietnamese herbs and sauce and mixed it all up together and it was delicious, authentic, huge portion and superbly tasty.
Whenever I have a craving for Vietnamese dishes again, to re-live my trip to Vietnam, Cay Tre will be the place that I visit. Ever since this meal, I have returned to Cay Tre and had even more incredible and authentic dishes.
Date: 13/ 10/ 13
Price for 2 people, no alcohol and service charge: £45.84