Archive for February 2008

A Happy Vietnamese New Year at Viet Noodle Bar!

February 11, 2008


Viet Noodle Bar
34 Greek Street
London W1D 5DJ
Tel: 020 7494 9888 

Why?  Tito’s Vietnamese friend, Thai, was eager to have us try Vietnamese food on the occasion of Tết, which usually falls on the same day as Chinese New Year, according to the Lunar calendar.  Chinatown restaurants were crammed from early on with lengthy queues forming, but we strolled straight in to Viet and nabbed the last table – luckily, a table for three. 

When?  Sunday 10th February, 12.30pm.  A beautiful, sunny Chinese New Year! 

Impression:  Small and noodle bar-ish.  You can see the cooking area in the back which tends to be reassuring. 

Prices:  The main meals, such as rice dishes and noodle dishes are practically all under £5!  They are not large, but they are good value.  The appetisers are somewhat more expensive at £3.80 – £5 for small portions – however, they are original and totally worth it. 

Service:  Young, British accented Vietnamese staff are polite and quick.  My chopsticks were instantly replaced when I dropped one, even though the restaurant was very busy. 

Description of food and drink:  The Cha Gio and Chao Tom appetisers were delicious.  You need to wrap the fried Cha Gio spring rolls in the lettuce provided, adding a sprig of fresh mint, add then slosh around liberally in the tasty Vietnamese fish sauce.  Yummy  Chao Tom involved a prawn ‘mousse’ wrapped around a piece of sugar cane – you mustn’t forget to give the sugar cane a good old chomp to release the trickle of juicy sweetness. 

The soup based noodle dish we tried (Pho Special) involved wonderfully light Vietnamese flat noodles.  These noodles combined with the beanspouts, bunches of herbs, and shiny fresh chilli lent the meal a fresh taste and healthful look.  The creamy Thai-style Red Chicken Curry was less good, with little flavour or zing.  But hey, it did cost only £5, and we were in a Vietnamese restaurant after all!  


Toilets:  Totally fine. 

Come again?   Viet has no booze licence, and so charge £1.50 for you to bring your own wine in.  It’s a deal.  I’ll be bringing friends for an inexpensive evening soon then – bearing a sharpish rosé, I expect.


Beautiful ‘Blue Tea’ Fusion Dessert at Yauatcha

February 4, 2008


Yauatcha (café)
15 Broadwick Street
Reservations: 020 7494 8888 

Why?  Chika and I tried in vain to get tea and cake on a Saturday some time ago.  They wouldn’t let us in for such a paltry order on a weekend, so we had to come back on a weekday.  Tiresome, but I have been seriously yearning to sample the square, sky blue concoction from the tantalising display of multi-hued cakes, decorated creams and mousses.  Indeed, never before have I eaten a food that is a) square and b) blue. 

When?  Friday 1st February, 4.30pm.  Lots of tables available, naturally. 

Impression:  Fish tanks always impress me.  And the cool grey minimalist interior lets the glass display case of vivid sweets and flamboyant macaroon selection really shine.  How on earth do they get macaroons that colour?  Their lurid hues are not of this earth, yet their dissemblance to real food is oddly compelling.


Prices:  The sweets are £4 – £5ish, pots of tea to share start from £4.  Macaroons are £1 each or 6 for £5. 

Service:  Attractive, oriental type waitresses hang around in minimalist white outfits with odd Chinese-print bumstrap things.  I thought the waitresses were essentially cute and polite, but they do basically ignore you: putting in an order required much flailing of arms and hungry grimaces. 

Description of food and drink:  The velvety blue coating of the Blue Tea sweet enrobed a silky blue-tea flavoured mousse.  Hidden within the mousse was a jammy confit of blackberries, and on top there was half a blackberry and a thin, printed white chocolate triangle.  It was lovely, best eaten slowly but not too sweet.  Chika had a Melon Tiramisu which was sweeter and sharper.  The tiramisu was encircled by a thin white chocolate case, printed with a green bamboo motif… it looked like plastic – but happily didn’t taste like it.  A pot of steaming Dragon’s Well Green Tea (which the menu explains, with great exactitude, is from Sanshia, Taipei, Taiwan) went down very nicely – it was delicate, and not at all bitter. 

Toilets:  Nice black oriental chic waterfall sink that you feel concerned about contaminating (by actually using it).  Inordinately heavy black wooden doors work against your entrance, but once in it is pretty clean throughout.  

Come again?  A clever choice for entertaining friends visiting London, it’s central and ideal for a break from shopping.  Make them think that you lead a very ‘Sex in the City’ lifestyle.  Not on a weekend though.  I’d really like to try the well-recommended dim-sum – perhaps downstairs in the underground, starry-ceiled restaurant area.