Le Gia - A New Force in Deptford's Vietnamese Scene
I've been eating at Le Gia since I got back to London this time and I've only now gotten the time to write it up. This is based on a couple of meals and something bordering on a banquet which I had with some friends yesterday.
The first trip to Le Gia was one of pure necessity. It's open a little bit later than it's posted 11pm closing time and we were therefore able to get late night food there earlier in the week. That meal consisted of two bowls of beef pho and my own bowl of bun bo hue.
The bun bo hue was the best I've ever had in the UK and it hovers within the same 5-7 pound price bracket that you see elsewhere in Deptford. The meat was far superior to what you're served at Chung Viet or Viet Rest and the broth itself was amazing. Also, their condiment plates include a chilli and garlic paste which I've never had and Vietnamese cilantro.
The pho was also excellent, the amount of meat was generous (and better than elsewhere) but the broth didn't quite reach the perfection I experience at Chung Viet. It was a little too salty.
The more tremendous meal at Le Gia gradually grew to four people and turned into an ordering free for all. We first shared a plate of bao tu ca xao la lop which is translated as fish innards with betel leaves. The dish (as the name, some wondering and a bit of online detective work) consists of catfish stomachs which are cooked and then served in a warm sauce which is heavily redolent of shrimp paste and Vietnamese cilantro. The taste is not at all fishy and the overall experience is much more similar to tearing through a plate of scungilli than what one would expect by the words "fish innards." All in all good with decent flavor and a surprisingly edible texture.
Other dishes included a vegetarian bun chay noodle dish which was only OK as well as a plate of Vietnamese pate which is translated as "pork hash" on the menu. The latter was a bit off putting at first but became quite addictive with the addition of Sriracha and accompanying slices of raw garlic.
Something I had never had before was deep fried chicken feet so this also stood out as something to order. The largest set of chicken feet I have ever seen in my life appeared double fried and accompanied by lemon, pepper and an unnervingly large of additional MSG to top the chicken with. Excellent frying gave way to perfectly cooked chicken gelatin and connective tissue. The enormity of each foot meant that they actually contain a filling amount of edible bits and pieces. One of the best chicken feet dishes I've ever had.
The highlights of this meal consisted of two dishes. Banh mi bo kho was one of the best things I've had at a Vietnamese restaurant ever. An extremely French seeming beef stew is served with a toasted baguette for dipping. The beef is amazingly tender, flavorful and abundant. The broth is almost too heavy. All in all an awesome dish. The other consisted of barbecued beef wrapped and grilled in betel nut leaves. Despite being listed and priced as a start it comes with enough noodles, condiments (pickled veg, fish sauce, etc) so feed one person with ease. Excellent beef with a hint of spice from the betel nut leaf and a nice filling pile of noodles.
All in all I'd personally rate Le Gia better for just about everything but pho when compared to other places in the vicinity. Their pho is possibly better than Viet Rest's, but I prefer Chung's to both. Also they have a big Vietnamese hotpot menu which looks amazing, a full bar and a karaoke room.
All in all a great place,
41 - 42 Deptford Broadway, City of London, Deptford SE8 4PH
Some additions, the crew is Southern Vietnamese and largely from Saigon aka HCMC. Also, they've been open for nearly 10 months. The way they pack their noodle soups is also pretty much the same as you'd get in China or in Chinese areas of NYC which is fantastic (they pack the component broth, noodles, etc separately. This is something I've generally had to plead for in London.)
JFores, thanks for this tip. I went a few weekends ago when I went to the twice-yearly Cockpit Arts open studios event nearby. Delicious! To start, the 2 of us had Bo` La´ Lôp (Grilled marinated beef wrapped in betel leaves) - as JFores says above, it was pretty big and came with vermicelli and pickled veg. You can also get it as a main. I like the pork version of this dish at Cay Tre, but the beef makes it richer and tastier, and I love the spice from the leaves against the fish sauce & noodles. Also fantastic was Banh Hoi Thit Nuong, described as "Vietnamese vermicelli parcels with grilled pork, served with fresh vegetables and sauce." They weren't parcels, which to me means stuffed, but little patties of vermicelli on a plate with pork on top - I didn't mind because they were deliciously chewy clumps of noodle and the grilled pork had excellent flavour. The only thing we didn't love was the Hu Tiêu Bo` Kho, the "Vietnamese beef stew served with glass noodle soup" - maybe we got a bad day, or the one with baguette is better, but the meat was tough and chewy, sadly. Very reasonable and Deptford isn't far on the train from London Bridge, so I'd definitely go back.