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Feb 3, 2010 12:32 PM

London SW: Good Vietnamese, where to buy short ribs of beef and gigantes beans

I'm a bit slow on the uptake, so it's taken us a year since we moved to the UK to figure out that this resource is here. Glad to have found you!

We've traveled across London to get Vietnamese food north of Liverpool St., but is there some to be recommended in SW London?

Two things we're having trouble buying here: Dried greek beans (known as gigantes, or the even more enticing, megalosperma) and short ribs of beef. The latter we've seen at Whole Foods but would love to find another source closer to home. Also, I'm feeling stupid and can't identify another UK cut of beef (other than oxtails, which my kids won't pick the meat out of) that is outstanding for braising.

Thanks in advance,
Sassafrass in Putney

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  1. Have walked by Saigon Saigon in Hammersmith on various trips, haven't eaten there, but might be worth trying (and reporting back so that we can all share info) at if it's within the area you're considering.

    1. O'Shea's in Knightsbridge had short ribs the last time I went, but if Whole Foods in Kensington is no good, Knightsbridge won't be much better, will it? How about HG Walter in Barons Court? Great butcher, should have short to be certain.

      For braising, I use chuck (upper part of the breast of the cow) or chunks of brisket (lower breast). Both are great and are rewarding if cooked for a long time.
      Also becoming more fashionable is ox cheek, which has a great flavour. Available in Waitrose now as part of their "forgotten cuts" bit.
      Finally, shin is another cut I'm a fan of but don't use enough. You can either buy it on the bone or off the bone.

      1. This helpful thread discusses different cuts in the UK:

        I also would recommend making friends with a local butcher. On a side note, I find that a lot of the British "supermarket beef" is pretty terrible (compared to supermarket beef in the US). I'm lucky enough to get down to Borough Market often and the Ginger Pig guys are always happy to prep things for you, or find some 'bits' in the back. Also, there is a Wild Beef stall in the new Jubilee Market which sells great beef. All their meat is prepackaged, but they would probably do something for you if you pre-ordered.

        1. We split some interesting discussion of cuts of beef over to our Home Cooking board. You can find it here:

          1. I think you'll find that short ribs are known as Jacob's ladder in the UK. My butcher has to be reminded to leave the bones in.