We should have been to Song Que for lunch right at the onset that afternoon but we were swayed by Timeout’s writeup so we ended up at Geffrye Museum Café instead. It turned out that the meal (if it can be called that) at Geffrye was less than satisfying and we were back to Song Que soon after.
It might be our previous experience with Song Que but I could never fathom why the Vietnamese restaurant along the northern end of Kingsland Road received such accolades from fellow food bloggers. Perhaps it was a matter of expectation and we made it a point to lower that quite a bit during our second visit.
This time round, Song Que was less crowded mainly because of the odd timing (4.30pm) but there was still this healthy buzz in the place. The mostly youthful ethnic Vietnamese male staff were busy shuttling to and fro between the kitchen and tables before taking up their positions beside the payment counter at the back of the restaurant. Efficient and prompt, Song Que runs like a well oiled machine.
Following Mr Noodles' (of Eat Noodles Love Noodles) recommendation, I went for the Vietnamese bun with stir fried beef and lemon grass (£6.10) this time round. While the cool dish was definitely more suitable for summer or the typical Vietnamese tropical weather, it was a refreshing change from the relatively heavy pho. Song Que’s bun was moist and didn’t clump together; the shredded mint leaves that came in the vermicelli added to its cool taste.
Song Que’s bun, when mixed with its slightly sweet sauce, reminded me of the “yong tau fu” I had back home, only better. Though I found the fried beef a bit tough, this is clearly a street food and really good one at that.
Wife was just glad to have a huge bowl of soup with the temperature dipping outside. That came in the form of the stewed beef pho (£6.70), which was done fabulously. The pho was so smooth that you could just slurp it through.
We still felt a bit peckish after that and topped the meal up with some spring rolls (£4.30). Unlike most, I prefer the fried version than the one made with steamed rice wrappers. Song Que’s spring rolls didn’t disappoint. It was lightly crisp with substantial filling, a tasty mouthful. If only it came with a bit of vinegar dip.
Am I a Song Que convert? Maybe. It’s really a tussle between Song Que and Cay Tre, which is further down along Old Street. While Cay Tre’s pho selection is almost non-existent, it does a mean crispy long fish. But if you are looking for a fuss free Vietnamese bite, Song Que’s the place to go.
Dosa n Chutny, Croydon
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