I love Asian food.
There’s just something about the complexity and depth of flavours that makes me go all gooey at the knees.
Well until recently, one of the (many) Asian cuisines I still had on my list to try was Vietnamese.
Then I had dinner at Cay Tre* in Soho, and now I’m just casually sat here looking up the price of flights to Hanoi…
We started with cocktails.
The Em Oi Fizz is super refreshing, made with a potent combination of vodka, prosecco, elderflower, and lemon. And I can’t find the name of the flowery one, but it had prosecco and a hibiscus flower in it, and was absolutely lovely.
Bánh Xèo is a Saigon crispy pancake, stuffed with a heavenly mix of prawns, pork belly, beansprouts and mushrooms. The pancake itself is a bit of a washout as it seems to crumble as soon as you put your fork through it, but the filling is FAB.
Shrimp summer rolls arrived next: rice paper wrapped tightly around a filling of rice noodles, sliced vegetables, herbs, and fat juicy prawns.
This was one of my favourite dishes of the night. They were so light and fresh, and I’ve added them to my list of dishes to try making at home. (They’d make a great packed lunch.)
The jellyfish salad, however, is not something I’ll be making anytime soon! Yes, it actually tasted OK, but the texture was just too odd for me. It’s a bit of a slimey addition to what’s actually a pretty decent salad.
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Compared to the super light summer rolls, the deep fried spring rolls are pure indulgence. We tried a selection of vegetable and pork ones, and they were INSANELY good.
The crispy tofu is a cracking vegetarian dish, full of flavour and texture.
On the other hand, the battered chili squid was disappointing. Bland and a bit squishy, rather than spicy and crunchy like I wanted it to be.
Our final dish of the night was Bánh Cuon: steamed rice crepes stuffed with pork, chicken, and mushrooms.
These were my second favourite dish of the evening. (In fact I’d actually say they tied for first place!)
The flavours are absolutely insane, and I loved the crunchy shallots scattered on top as well. 10/10 would order again!
Overall: I really liked Cay Tre!
Price wise, it’s pretty reasonable too. The light dishes we had are meant as sharing dishes, kind of like Vietnamese tapas, so you can have a really great meal for about £20 each (without drinks). They also have mains for around £10-£12.
The service is excellent. All the staff were incredibly friendly and knowledgeable, and our guy gave us tons of background info on the dishes, from how long the pancake batter is proven for (24 hours, if you were wondering), to little anecdotes about where the names come from.
It was a really great evening and my only regret is that I didn’t get to try the Pho.
But I guess that just means I’ll have to go back! (Or book that flight…)
42 – 43 DEAN STREET
*I was a guest of Cay Tre for this visit.
All thoughts, words and summer (roll) loving are my own!