Vietnamese places on Deptford High Street, Deptford, London
DaveMP and others have posted extensively on Chung Viet (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/684407); adding more on the other places on Deptford High Street:
• Quan Viet (on a side street next to the pub close to Evelyn Road
)The slices of fish with dill was very good - served in a pan on a portable stove, already sauteed with some dill and julienned green onion. Comes with a plate with sliced chilli, more frilly dill and green onion to add to the pan for table cooking, as well as peanuts, and a salty, savoury, pungent fish sauce base dipping sauce. A great combination of flavours in this dish from Hanoi: the soft herb flavour from dill, the sweetness sharper green onion, all meshing nicely with the peanuts and dipping sauce to enhance the fish. Also served with rice vermicelli.
Banh cuon were soft rice sheets , fairly well textured, slightly chewy, nicely glossed so that they didn't stick to each other, were filled with little bits of minced pork and black fungus (wished for a more substantial filling). Topped with a little bit of crispy shallots (wished there was more) and three slices of cha lua, a steamed pate with a firm snappy bite. Not bad but I like the ones at Cafe East or Leong Kee more.
Cha chien, the fried pork sausage, was good - nice porky flavour, crisp but not oily skin.
The latter 2 were served with julienned lettuce and coriander, but no obvious sign of the other vietnamese herbs (e.g. shiso).
Sweet obliging service; there's an all Vietnamese menu that the offered to help translate. The fish was compelling enough to make me think that this place warrant further exploration, especially the untranslated menu.
• Westlake aka Ho Tay Quan
Pleasant cha gio (spring rolls) with a good blistery reddish prawn flavoured skin, and filled with savoury bits of minced pork, mung bean vermicelli, black fungus etc. But Chung Viet's version is really better by virtue of being more generous with the pork filling, and by including julienned Vietnamese shiso in their chopped lettuce/coriander to enhance the meaty flavours.
Little rolls of pork in betel leaves were also pleasantly seasoned and given a complex herbal flavour from the betel leaves. Served with rice vermicelli.
Not bad on the whole, but not as good as Chung Viet. They seem to have a friday special of some sort of offal soup.
• Cafe @ Migos
The cha gio/spring rolls here were smaller rolls (but more of them) with the smooth standard cantonese type skin, and a porky filling with a nice pungency probably from fish sauce.
It seems to be the only place on the street that serves rice plates including a popular one with grilled pork, pork skin with toasted rice for a sandy texture, fried egg and cucumber, enlivened with splashes of nuoc cham, the sweet dipping sauce. Not bad.
Most of the tables were having various forms of hot pot, and they have special version that require advance orders e.g. a duck one for £60 that should probably serve 3-4. Easy to think that hot pots might be where the action is; definitely worth checking out.
• VIet Rest
The Cha Gio is very similar to Westlake's version, down to the prawn flavoured skins.
Had a soup noodle with a fettucine like wheat noodle, firm and dark olive in colour. A savoury enough soup with eggy bit of crab, as well as pork in betel leaves, and pieces of napa cabbage and mustard green. In the good not great category.
More soupy noodle dishes on their menu, perhaps this is the part worth exploring on their menu.
On the whole I had the impression that these places were a notch up from Kingsland Road in general, although we'll need to draw from a bigger sample. I think these Vietnamese places warrant more exploration as they've been more promising than the ones on Kingsland Road.
To summarise, I probably had my best meal at Chung Viet, but Quan Viet was also very close, and I had ordered different dishes. For further chowhounding, the hot pots at Cafe @ Migos are definitely worth exploring. Will probably start on the African places next.
• Pho Hanoi, another on Deptford High Street
The banh xeo was outstanding. Great crust -- thick, crunchy, yet light, and carried a good coconut flavour. Contrasting textures with the prawns and bean sprouts.
Good banh cuon as well. Fried squid with salt and pepper was excellent, light, without any greasiness, and added complexity of flavours from the dipping sauce and onions and chilli. Ditto for the spare ribs.
Bun Bo Hue and the pho were ok, not the deepest flavours in the broths, but serviceable.
Get their superb lemonade -- I believe it's fresh squeezed, a great balance of sweet and sour, and perhaps a pinch of salt.
• Viet Restaurant (hope i remember the name right, it's the Vietnamese restaurant that is furthest south on Deptford High Street)
Pretty decent on the whole, pleasant roast quail with a fairly crispy skin. Nice but not outstanding bun rieu with crab, a rice noodle dish with a tomatoey broth.
Chung Viet got replaced - it's now Pho something (sorry can't remember name). But the food there is outstanding, so I'm really grateful my pals got me out there for dinner.
Banh cuon (rice sheets filled with minced pork) has that delightfully chewy resilient texture; supported by cha lua, slices of a steamed "pate". Summer rolls stuffed with strips of pig's ears are delicious, dotted with the sandy rice powder for textural interest, and (iirc) the fragrance of shiso. Pho's got a good depth of flavour in the broth. And there's a good sense of umami in the fried rice with chopped mustard greens and beef, maybe from a good dash of oyster sauce.
Stopped by Quan Viet on Saturday (for my third visit in as many months) only to find that the place has changed hands and the chef has moved on.
Would normally check out the new outfit but they were only offering an abreviated menu that missed much of what I was looking for, so retreated to Chung Viet down the road. Which was perfectly respectable (better than that, truth be told) but not up to the standard of where the old Quan Viet was.
Does anyone know where there have relocated (the folks in Chung didn't....)?
Just popped in to Cau Dat, the successor to Quan Viet. Apparently they've only been up and running for a couple of weeks, so maybe another place opened and closed in the meantime.
The waitress was super-friendly, and explained they currently have in place a daily rotating menu, which will become more permanent once they settle down. Sunday is pho. I was guided to the combination chicken & beef, which was quite decent. The chicken in particular was lovely and tender, though not a huge selection of garnishes. Iced coffee was very strong.
Supposedly Saturday is banh mi day, and they make the bread in-house. May be worth a visit to check that out.
We’re off to Vietnam in September so have been indulging in a few looseners around London; you know, to get ourselves acclimatised. In fact, the only thing missing to complete the air of authenticity has been the usual English monsoon Summer.
Café East, Cay Tre, Chung Viet have all figured, and last Saturday it was the turn of Quan Viet in Deptford High Street.
This has to be about the least prepossessing eaterie I have ever visited in this country. The restaurant space is the converted saloon bar from the White Swan pub (the two are still interconnected) and the White Swan doesn’t have the air of a place where you can order a Campari & Soda and expect to live. In fact it has the air of a place that holds dog-fights every Saturday and serves the loser in a basket with chips afterwards.
The demographic at each of the places we have been to has also been interesting.
Café East was almost exclusively Vietnamese. In part I put this down to its location on the far side the Surrey Quays Cineplex car park, which means that the New Orleans Diner, Garfunkels and TFI Friday’s have filtered out 99% of the Great British Family Dining public, even if they had the inclination to try ‘foreign’ and the absence of morbid obesity necessary to waddle the extra 50 yards. But it part its because it’s a one-trick pony – pho. It’s very phine pho, I’ll grant you, but it does mean that everyone’s got to be in the mood for soup even before you make your pitch of trying to persuade them to hike to a grim SE London car park in order to get it, and achieving this kind of consensus with any dinner group is pretty rare.
Cay Tre was much more cosmopolitan. Décor-wise, it’s definitely gone up in the world since the first time I tried it when it consisted of a few tables in the take-away shop, and, with its makeover, has come the Hoxton crowd. Good luck to it. It’s clearly benefitting from a mix and turn-over that reflects the fact that, since it set up in what was then the arse-end of Old St, the world of bar-crawlers and foodies has beaten a path to the neighbourhood.
…A rise in fortune that has yet to be made manifest in Deptford High Street, as was evident from the fact that the demographic at Chung Viet on a quiet Sunday was…well…us.
Quan Viet was much busier (but it was Saturday) and exclusively Vietnamese. There is a school of thought that points to this as a good sign in any ethnic restaurant. But then, Little Chef is full of English people, so bugger that for a theory.
And the verdict…
It was knockout. I’m not going to add much here in terms of menu exposition because, as chance would have it, we mainly had dishes which Limster has already posted about above (esp. the La Vong fish). I also can’t do a direct dish-for-dish comparison with Chung Viet down the road (where we focused on a dry goat stir-fry and the crispy fish) or Cay Tre but, for my money, there was clear blue water between Quan Viet and the others (exception made for Café East’s spring rolls which are the tops…). Food was exceptionally well cooked and flavoured. It had all those combinations of sour, salty, cool in the salads, spicy in the saucing, and fresh from the herbs that you look to do the fireworks thing in your mouth in that distinctive way of SE Asian cooking. Added to this was friendly service, a very fast production of pints by arrangement with the pub next door, and a pittance of a total bill that would barely cover the “optional snobbery charge” at somewhere like Roux on Parliament Square.
So, a brilliant meal and hands-down the best Vietnamese I’ve had so far. And huge thanks to Limster and others for these recommendations. Which also has me wondering, how do you find these places in the first place? It’s a bit like the “who first thought of eating oysters?” question. Do you just wander into random dodgy pubs until you hit the jackpot or get murdered, or do you have a method?
Thanks for the reports! Great to have an update.
As to "how do you find these places" -- in this particular case, I went to Chung Viet because of DaveMP's pioneering efforts, came across other places on the way there, and just decided to try them one by one. One often encounters places with very little information when walking through different neighbourhoods. Unless one's gut instinct (hah) says avoid, it's often worth a try. Doesn't have to be dodgy though, there are nice places that one might come across that way too -- e.g. I saw that Koffman's was open on my way to Bar Boulud.
Agreed Gareth. today I tried the la vong fish and papaya salad with pork skin. I felt a bit out of place as everyone else in the restaurant was Vietnamese and eating pho! There was incense burning and Vietnamese satellite tv playing, giving it a feel like many cafes I've been to in SE Asia. The waitress today didn't speak much English, so ordering was a point-at-the-menu affair.
At any rate, the Fish was very well cooked and the pungent fish sauce and dill complemented the fish well. Salad was fresh and tasty, with well balanced flavourings. A great meal and I can't wait to go back and try the pho and other dishes.