Saturday, 30 January 2010

Sông Quê Café

Is there really any point in posting another review of Sông Quê Café. Yes and only because I need to fill the gaps that are left on my Pho Mile page. And as for those squiggly and irritating diacritics like circumflexes and acutes, well I have to include them because my sometime Vietnamese friend, Nguyễn goes ballistic if I don’t; he thinks that I and the rest of the world are balking at and dissing his lingo! Too right Gwen, sorry Nguyễn.

If you’re going to try Vietnamese cuisine for the first time in London then you can’t do much wrong here. I simply cannot imagine how anyone can hate this place with a vengeance, well if they do then it’s certainly nothing to do with the food but the service! Hell, this place is the most popular Viet joint in London and during peak times and off’ for that matter, you simply have to queue and be patient. If and when you do get a table, more often than not that means sharing with someone else, just persevere and don’t sigh needlessly- remember you’re not coming here for a romantic interlude! Enjoy the wonderful food, drink a couple of beers, pay your meal, leave the small talk till a little later, make way for those hungry diners waiting outside and reward yourselves by ending the evening at the gay pub in Shoreditch that’s the George & Dragon (a truly joyous place and no, I’m not gay).

The service here is what we might expect of Kingsland Road, it’s a lottery! Often misinterpreted as condescending, the waiting staff at Sông Quê can’t help it, the place is busy and if you wish to get pampered then best be off, and oh there’s also the long long menu. That long long menu has amongst the Vietnamese stuff a load more Chinese dishes. Why do people come here and order things like Crispy Aromatic Duck, Chicken and Sweetcorn swamp, Lemon Chicken (why, why!), Sweet and Sour drivel, etc. Please don’t be undeserving to me or least yourselves, tis’ a Vietnamese restaurant so order as common sense prevails, appropriately!

I’ve been here countless times, but it’s not my fave as both Hung Việt and Que Viet are vastly superior. The pho here is as it good as it gets, alas the servings are not the most generous but what this place is good for is the Bánh xèo, Vietnamese ‘take no prisoners’ savoury crêpe. And I would like to add that the house red tasted like diluted Ribena with rice vinegar thrown in, hangover guaranteed. Repetitious I may sound, stick to tea (Sybil, beer is below me).

Came here last November with her (look if you want to be my dining chum then give us a shout, I promise that I don’t bite but I’m just wearily black and white, I hate bullshit!). What we had-

Monkfish Canh chua (sour soup)- Catfish would’ve been better but it was still delicious.

Vegetarian Noodles- She liked it, but I thought it needed some pig’s liver and something of the dark to make it more consuming.

Bún chả giò (Bun Cha Gio)- Herby/salady cold vermicelli dish served with warm veggie spring rolls. A one dish meal and bloody good it was too.

Spicy Aubergines- Small portion but very good.

Afters- Thing on the left is made with beans, condensed milk or was it coconut, syrup upon syrup and grass jelly. Thing on right is the illustrious Cà phê sữa đá(Cafe sua da)- superior iced Vietnamese coffee sweetened with condensed milk.

Sông Quê Café is established and I’m surprised that it hasn’t expanded and nor does it need the help of PR dorks to map it like Miền Tây or Viet Grill. It’s worth a pilgrimage, enjoy.

134 Kingsland Road
London E2 8DY


London Chow said...

Thanks for the post! Will normally head towards Cay Tre at Old Street for my beef pho. Am not too adventurous when it comes to Vietnamese cuisine.

Will give Song Que Cafe a shot as Kingsland isn't too far away.


Mr Noodles said...

Don't get me started on Viet places serving Chinese food especially as its the anglicised stuff like lemon chicken designed to accommodate the slow learner in the group who might otherwise scupper the whole let's try Vietnamese adventure. I know it makes sense from a commercial perspective but does Song Que really need that kind of customer to stay in business - I doubt it.

LC - Imho the pho at Cay Tre is a bit insipid compared to Song Que although they do have a great monkfish dish cooked with dill at the table.

Hollow Legs said...

To be honest, I always have such a good meal at Mien Tay, Battersea that i don't bother with any other Kingsland Road places. That vermicelli spring roll salad looks worth a visit though.

bellaphon said...

London Chow- Shiok! Thank you and all. You won't find any Viet folks at Cay Tre, walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain, Kingsland Road is only around the corner and you shall find nuoc mam instilled happiness. Nice blog BTW!

Mr Noodles- Did I mention that Taste of Beijing also offers Malaysian, Thai, Singaporean, Fijian, Na'vian dishes as well!

Lizzie- We need to meet up soon but I'm not crossing over the river.

Wild Boar said...

I saw the Bun Cha Gio on some other blog and wanted to order that, but completely forgot the name and randomly ordered another Bun dish instead. I'll write it down somewhere before my next visit.

theundergroundrestaurant said...

nice to see you are back to your bitchy gay best bella!

bellaphon said...

Wild Boar- Hi there, bun cha is technically a daytime meal in Vietnam and since we’re in London I don’t care if I’m having it at midnight. In any case I prefer it with chargrilled pork or prawns, I can’t help but think that most of the cha gio (Viet spring rolls) are bought in; but at least they taste better than the farmed Chinese spring rolls we get everywhere else.

Her- If you’re hinting that I’m in the slightest dv8ed then can I have my toothbrush back. Yes, it’s that lurid turquoise Oral B jobbie.

meemalee said...

Hey Les! Bitchy is good!

Song Que is the only place where I think the food is good and cheap enough that I'll put up with nack service :)

bellaphon said...

msmeemalee- read your post and excellent as per usual, thank you. If you get the chance you need to peruse the Pho Mile in its entirety (it's cheap!) but the French Viets love to berate the strip, but I'm a Londoner and if it's authentic enough for the London Viets then it's more than good enough for me!

Mr Noodles said...

Returned here for lunch yesterday, pho was good as were the summer rolls. Quail so-so and banh xeo had too many beansprouts.