Thursday, 28 February 2013

Off The Blog 7 - Eating In Soho

It's been a hell of a long time since I last did an 'Off The Blog' summary. 15 months to be precise. Well, better late than never, here are three places in Soho to get your chopsticks into.

One of my favourite Vietnamese dishes is bánh cuốn, a rice noodle roll that shares some similarities with Cantonese cheung fun. Although there are many Vietnamese restaurants in London, few sell this superior dish. Café East in Surrey Quays does, but its version doesn't come anywhere close to the bánh cuốn at Cây Tre Soho. Filled with ground pork, wood ear and shitake mushrooms, a large portion makes an ideal light lunch. Recommended.

For a previous review of this restaurant, click here.

Cay Tre Soho on Urbanspoon

Cây Tre, 42-43 Dean Street, London W1D 4QD (Tel: 020-7317-9118)
Nearest tube: Leicester Square, Tottenham Court Road

Following a long forgotten incident involving Pa Noodles getting the hump about some over-battered fried squid, I hadn't been to Golden Dragon in a long, long time. In the intervening years this Chinatown veteran has barely changed. As far as the food goes, there were some moments of class such as the chive dumplings in the photo and the beef satay fried ho fun noodles. Less successful was a dish of over-greasy fried dough stick cheung fun and some lacklustre xiao long bao. That said, I enjoyed my lunch in this buzzy atmospheric Cantonese restaurant. And while there is superior dim sum to be had in the capital, Golden Dragon is one of the better choices in Chinatown.

For a guide to my favourite London dim sum restaurants, click here.

Golden Dragon on Urbanspoon

Golden Dragon, 28-29 Gerrard St, London, W1D 6JW (Tel: 020-7734-1073)
Nearest tube: Leicester Square

Soho Ramen is the latest offering from Tonkotsu Bar and Ramen, which sees own-made ramen noodles paired with shio-based pork and chicken broth topped off with smoked haddock, a bit of caviar, pak choi, half an egg, menma and spring onion. The clear, mellow soup (a lighter style compared to this restaurant's signature tonkotsu broth) is an ideal match for the toppings, as it allows the flavour of the smoked haddock to shine through. But the real star of the show is the own-made ramen; these springy alkali noodles are arguably the best of their kind in the capital. I previously had Shoryu and Bone Daddies ahead of Tonkotsu in my London ramen rankings, but on this showing I may just have to reappraise my opinion.

For a previous review of this restaurant, click here. And for more on ramen, click here.

Tonkotsu on Urbanspoon

Tonkotsu Bar and Ramen, 63 Dean Street, London W1D 4QG (Tel: 020-7437-0071)
Nearest Tube: Leicester Square, Tottenham Court Road


  1. oooh I love banh cuon! I didn't think much of Cay Tre Soho but since that's on the menu I'm tempted back.

  2. They had banh cuon at Viet Grill when I was there last week. I wish I tried them now. Oh well next time.

  3. Nice round up - i wold love to see how the central London outpost (I assume it is an outpost) of Cay Tre is doing. And like you, I am something of a banh cuon fan. Something to add to the list for when I might need lunch in London methinks.

  4. I so do need to visit London one day!

  5. Lizzie - The banh cuon is reason enough to go back to Cay Tre, but I understand where you're coming from, as not everything works on their menu.

    Danofee - you should try iit! BTW Viet Grill is the sister restaurant of Cay Tre, so the banh cuon should be good, too.

    Gworm - I've not always had the best of luck with the Cay Tre/Viet grill stable, but my better experiences have been at the Soho branch. Lunch is a good shout, as their lunch menu is better value than the carte.

    msihua - you must! But I reckon you have better Asian grub down under.

  6. I must stop reading your blog late at night when I have had an enormous dinner. I am slightly obsessing about Vietnamese food already, and may be counting rice noodle rolls to get to sleep.

    1. alifelessdigital - have you tried these at Cay Tre? You must.

  7. When I went to Golden Dragon with my folks, we also ordered the dough stick cheong fun and was bitterly disappointed with it as it the dough stick was rock hard to which my dad commented that it must've been refried. Must remember not to order that again in the future. Their steamed beef balls are most excellent as are the prawn dumplings (hau gau).

    1. TheBao - your Dad's spot on! Definitely refried dough sticks. And good shout on the beef balls - they are excellent with citrus peel and water chestnut in the mix.