Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Pho London

I traveled to Vietnam a few months ago and experienced the miracle that is Pho. I know, it's a little narrowing to talk about soup when referring to Vietnam, especially when I adored every last bit of the trip, but I have to stress how much  the Pho experience has had an impact on me. On my first day in Saigon, after a night of tossing and turning from the jetlag and confusion of time, my friend and I made our way through the hussle and bussle of the mopeds, tricycles, and shouting Saigonese early risers in the street, to eat some breakfast. Needless to say, we were a little perplexed when we set foot in a local soup joint at 8am with the sound of slurping and masticating buzzing in our ears. The bowl of soup was tossed in front of us and we had no choice but to wolf down our bowl of hot salty liquid at 8 in the morning. We looked at each other in complete awe,  with our jaws dropped and a smile made its way on our faces. This was the best breakfast we'd ever eaten. The Vietnamese version of our greasy heavy sticky eggs and bacon had won us over. It was about 35 degrees outside, drops of sweat were sizzling on our foreheads and we couldn't have been happier. The noodles were just the right amount of soft, the beef was tender and the broth was silky. For the days to follow, we were unable to eat anything else for breakfast.

                           Eating Pho at 8am in Saigon, Vietnam

Ever since my return from Vietnam, I've been on the hunt for the perfect Pho. Rekindling that feeling of ecstasy has proven to be a difficult task. But after days, weeks and months of hunting, I believe I've found it. The Old Street joint Cay Tre in Hoxton, one of the only places in London to serve a cheap, yummy, tummy-growling bowl of Pho in all of London, has got it! And the place is a true gem. Yes, I know, it is not that much of a secret anymore, and the long wait outside will prove that to you, but the food is oh so delish. The first thing I did when I sat down was to ask for a Pho to start, while we waited for our main dishes to arrive. I couldn't wait very long as you can imagine. The staff was ecstatic when they found out I had been to Vietnam a few months prior and overjoyed at my enthusiasm for Vietnamese food. Needless to say, the mains, after that, came very quickly. The Cha Ca La Vong was a delight. This is a specialty of theirs and one of the best fish dishes I ate in Hanoi actually. I even tried to replicate it at home...ahem, yeah, not easy.

                                             Cay Tre, Old Street, Hoxton
You'll love the decor, the staff and the crowd. Cay Tre has everything about a local joint but with a splash of cool and a whole lots of exotic. And the food is cheap and to die for! I'd say that's a bonus!


  1. is that a pic of the fish dish in hanoi? man that was so good.

  2. Yes it is! The famous Cha Ca La Vong! You know its impossible to replicate at home!!? I tried it tasted like feet!

  3. Nam Long Le Shaker is a great vietnamese restaurant in south kensington. The spring rolls there are great.
    I love Pho !! I also had it for breakfast in Vietnam.