Cay Tre – Hoxton, London

I went to Vietnam once. The food wasn’t the best I’ve ever had. But there I was last night with a group of hungry friends in Hoxton and Cay Tre presented itself, so I thought why not give it another chance. I’m glad I did.

We queued for 20 minutes or so, then got taken downstairs and shown to our little table. It was a bit of a squeeze, but on the upside, you don’t have to shout to be heard and it makes for a cosy dining experience. The one thing I will say though is that the tables are too close together. I don’t like the feeling of being stuck in the table for fear that you’ll knock off the neighbours’ water by accident as you brush past.

To start we ordered crispy vietnamese spring rolls and the chef vinh’s beef to share. The spring rolls were good and took the word crispy to a whole new level. The beef was fantastic; it was 4 pieces of charcoaled ribeye cooked in lemongrass and ginger sauce, served rolled up with chilli inside and was unbelievably tasty.

For main I ordered bun sa with chicken. You can also have it with steak, tofu or prawns. It is a bowl of vermicelli (fairly thin transparent noodles), cucumber, bean sprouts, crispy shallots, peanuts, nuoc cham (a vietnamese dipping sauce) and lemongrass. It is served at lukewarm temperature (on purpose) as is the custom in Vietnam. It was quite novel eating warm-ish cucumber and having it in a main dish but I liked it. There were a few occasions where my lips were on fire after accidental encounters with chilli, but that’s just part of the fun. I really enjoyed my bun sa.

Two of my group had pho (one classic, one ox cheek) and the other two also had bun sa (one also with chicken, one with beef). Everyone enjoyed their mains.

It came to £28 per person (including two bottles of wine between five of us). Staff are friendly and the atmosphere was great. Highly recommended.

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