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Best Vietnamese Pho place and Asian Market in London? And views on Innocent Smoothies?

Will be in London later this week, and am looking to get my Vietnamese pho fix, as this (plus Malaysian/Singaporean) are the main cuisines Moscow still lacks. Am also looking for a good Asian market so I can pick up some fresh lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves to take back with me, since they're only haphazardly available in Moscow supermarkets.

Last question--I was telling a Russian friend the other day about Naked Juice (U.S. all fruit smoothies--especially like their pomegranate blueberry) and she said something about Innocent all fruit smoothies in the UK--are they a must try, and worth the price?

Many thanks!

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  1. Pho is difficult in London. In the center the only place I know of that does a decent one is at the bottom of Greek street in Soho, called Viet or similar.

    Lemon grass and stuff you can find eveywhere; many places in Chinatown or
    my local in Chepstow Rd, Notting hill, by the junction with Westbourne grove which is a dedicated Thai shop, which has everything you need for Thai food; and most of the stuff for Vietnamese stuff.

    1. there are quite a few vietnamese restaurants in east london - kingsland road and mare street (hackney) are good starting points. the latter also has several vietnamese groceries.

      as for innocent smoothies, they're fairly similar to naked juice but they tend to be claggier. i'm not a big fan, but then i'm not a smoothie person in general. they shouldn't cost more than a few pounds, so trying one won't be a huge expenditure.

      1. One of my favourite Vietnamese places is Cay Tre on Old St

        The owners have opened a new(ish) place on The Kingsland Rd called The Viet Grill which is worth a visit. I particularly liked the pork pounded with turmeric



        1. Simon Mumjamdar is a regular contributor to this board. He has a mighty tasty-looking blog where he posts his finds. He mentions a fabulous-sounding Vietnamese restaurant in his July 30 entry. It's called Viet Grill.



          1 Reply
          1. re: Lake

            Thank you:-)

            I like the riff on my name BTW


          2. I think Innocent drinks are fine-tasting but very expensive. Of course, I often still think in American dollars which means one drink costs almost $4.00. The flavors sound yummy and compared to other drinks in London, I guess you could call them average-priced.

            I've never been to the large Asian market at Colindale Tube, but I hear there are a lot of wonderful food stalls there. Anyone??

            1. Many thanks to all of you for your replies! I'll probably try to find the Viet place in Soho that Balex mentioned, as pho is what I'm really craving, I make other Vietnamese food at home but so far not pho. Cheers, H

              1 Reply
              1. re: Moscow Hound

                Viet recently had a change of management and from ALL reports the Pho (and everything else) isnt that great anymore. I would recommend Kingsland Rd in Shoreditch for two reasons 1) there are about 8 vietnamese restaurants to choose from, the best Pho in my opinion is at Song Que and 2) there is a vietnamese supermarket about two doors down from the last restaurant in the row, Song Que that sells specifically Vietnamese as well as more general Asian ingredients. They dont take cards though, only cash.

              2. Cay Tre will be the best place for Pho in London.

                1. Tre Viet on Mare Street in Hackney is a really good option. Also Pho on Great Titchfield Street and in Clerkenwell are also good.

                  1. I think Innocent smoothies are delicious. Yes, they are expensive, but I drink them slowly and appreciatively, as a treat, rather than necking them.

                    1. I would argue that Song Que on Kingsland Rd does a damned fine pho, maybe even better than Cay Tre.... Their Pho with Tripe, Tendon and Rare Beef is amazing, in a delicate yet flavourful broth.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: foreignmuck

                        I've eaten at most Vietnamese places in the East End and those in the centre, and I can say, please - avoid Viet and Pho. There are no good places for pho in Central London, period. For the real thing, Song Que on Kingsland Road still does the best - the broth there is pretty much perfect, the portions are huge, and the slices of tender beef come still pink, as it should. For pho ga (chicken noodle soup), Green Papaya on Mare Street was the best I've had in London - very clean flavours, perfectly slippery rice noodles and very, well, 'chickeny' chicken.

                        I like Cay Tre but I find they do meat dishes better than pho - their bo luc lac ('shaking' beef) is excellent. Still, the most consistent in terms of quality has been Song Que, in my opinion.

                        Innocent Smoothies aren't worth the fuss... but I do admit that Crussh's strawberry smoothies are my vice...

                        1. re: supercharz

                          Make that another vote for Song Que's pho as good for the area. For banh cuon, my pick is Leong Kee.

                          1. re: limster

                            Pho at Viet is decidedly average (beef quality is below par), though the prices are very reasonable when you consider it is in Soho.

                            I would agree with supercharz and limster that Song Que has the best Pho in London hands down, and that's having systematically tried it at every restaurant in Kingsland Road and Mare St during a vietnamese 'phase' (or should that be 'phose'?). It is the small details that let the others down e.g. having lemon instead of lime in the extras plate &c.

                            1. re: Millar

                              Just back from another trek to Cafe East on Evelyn St in Deptford. An order of magnitude better than anything on Kingsland Rd. Actually flavourful broth -- first time I've actually been impressed in London, coming from Singapore, and having eaten at Vietnamese places in Melbourne and California (briefly).

                              1. re: cavorting

                                Ssh.. You're not allowed to mention Cafe East. It's a secret!

                                1. re: cavorting

                                  I keep meaning to go - but I hear the owners close up and go on holiday every year for a few weeks. Does anyone know whether they've gone yet?

                                  1. re: supercharz

                                    They've gone!! Shutters up with no explanation. We went there on Friday August 1st.

                                    1. re: kenttran

                                      They went on holiday last Tuesday. From recollection, they're back in the second week of September... something like the 9th or 16th of September.

                        2. I didn't have the pho, but we had some good food at Mien Tay on Kingsland Road. I think this is a new place on the same site as another Vietnamese cafe. A nice rendition of a fresh spring roll, with plenty of herbage, and a sweet/sour/spicy seafood soup which included some delicious scallops and plenty of crunchy veg, but too much pineapple for my liking. The standout were the spicy spare ribs - Mr GG said he could have eaten them all day. I very much liked the pickles that came with them (didn't get much of a look-in on the ribs).

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: greedygirl

                            I still love Viet in Soho.

                            I tried Paddyfield in Balham last week, which was good.