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Sep 26, 2006 02:23 PM

Best Vietnamese Pho Noodle Soup and Modern Dishes of Vietnam in Shoreditch, London

Pho, as the most popular Vietnamese dish, was first created by mixing the French beef and the Chinese herbed noodle soup in Hanoi, Vietnam more than 100 years ago. "Pho" now presents in any province of Vietnam with different flavours, but the most popular taste is still the original one from Hanoi. The taste of Pho in Saigon, Hochiminh City is also good and might suit many appetit but it is too rich and lack of its own character. While all of the other Vietnamese restaurants in London selling the Saigon Taste Pho, Cay Tre in Old Street and its sibbling Viet Grill in Kingsland do a different Pho, with Hanoi taste and flavour. They also do modern Vietnamese dishes like basa fish, grilled monkfish and feudal beef, which you can only find in Saigon. In my own opinions, they do the best vietnamese food outside Vietnam. Luckily for me, they are right here in Shoreditch. London, with only a couple of miles from my place.

If you have a good knowledge about Vietnamese community in London, you will know that most Vietnamese Restaurant owners in London were refugees, who came here about 25 years ago after the war with America. Their restaurants now serve the food which they ate back home 25 years ago, when the whole Vietname was in a hunger because of the war. This is why all the restaurant serving the same dishes, with really simple ways of cooking and simple ingredients. The food culture now in Vietnam is totally different, innovative dishes being out every day, with the use of international ingredients in a very competitive market, and it so much better.

Cay Tre and Viet Grill are the only restaurants in London I find the dishes which I ate a couple months ago when I was in Vietnam. I am actually a big fan of them because the food is tasty and innovative. I love the noise of the restaurant, the flavour thickenning in the air, and most of all, I love their food.

Cay Tre-The Vietnamese Kitchen 301 Old Street London EC1V 9LA, Tel: 020 7729 8662

Viet Grill-The Vietnamese Kitchen 58 Kingsland Road, London E2 8DP, Tel: 020 7739 6686

Chimney Hugh-The Vietnamese food lover

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  1. Cay Tre is more like for Noodle Soup, it has the best broth and stock for soup. Really good food but it is so busy.

    Viet Grill is more relaxable and you can have fanstastic dish from grill, but it lacks of the ambience like Cay Tre though

    1. I am a fan of both and regularly stop off in Cay Tre on my way home from work for some take out which is always very good.

      That being said, my recent meal at Viet Grill ( owned bythe same people as Cay Tre ) was even better.


      1 Reply
      1. re: Simon Majumdar

        The pix of the the quail looks really promising. About the feudal beef, it looks so much like a english steak. Does is taste the same?

      2. The origin of pho
        A national dish, pho has a history much shorter than other traditional dishes such as bun rieu cua (crab noodle soup), bun moc (northern soup), bun thang (Hanoi chicken soup), chao long (pig internal organ porridge) and banh cuon (steamed rolls). Some sources report that pho has its origin in northern Vietnam; some says Hanoi is the cradle of pho.
        Pho is cooked mainly with beef and cow bones. In the old days, beef was not part of the daily menu of Vietnamese, who were mostly farmers, as their cattle were their most important draft force. In the 19th century the French arrived in Hanoi bringing with them the habit of eating beefsteak. Eating beef became more popular. Several butcher shops began to sell beef. Occasionally, some beef and cow bones could not be sold, and they were cooked to eat with bun, a kind of rice noodle. Gradually, bun was replaced by banh pho (pho noodles). As such, pho came into existence.
        At first, pho was sold from big boxes carrying the soup, borne by peddlers. By early 1920s, the first pho shops appeared in Hanoi.