Whilst I am familiar with some of the Vietnamese restaurants on Kingsland Road, I don’t really know of many outside this area. Kingsland Road is always the go-to place whenever my family wants some Vietnamese food. So when an old friend suggested this place, I was game. Only a few steps away from Warren Street tube station, it’s neatly tucked alongside many stores, cafes and restaurants. I looked at the menu earlier and saw that they had one of my favourite dishes (bun rieu cua) and a drink I really enjoyed. They didn’t have bad prices too. What a winner here.
Bun rieu cua is made up of vermicelli noodles, a tomatoey broth and some sort of crab mixture. According to my ‘research’ (google), there’s a more traditional way of preparing the crab mixture and it is to pound freshwater blue crab and then sieve it through to form some sort of paste which is then added a tomato based broth which in turns produces a very strong crabby broth. However I remember trying to learn how to make this dish from my mum and she just mixed egg and minced crabmeat from little cans, I think that the canned crabmeat already had seasoning too. A bit of a cheat really but this dish always always always delivered. If anybody is ever interested, I can try and figure out what my mum does and post it on here.
When I walked in, my friend was already seated. The place was starting to get busier, however we were seen to almost immediately. I needed a few more minutes to just to see if there was anything else on the menu that could change my mind. Nope. I did find it odd that the drink I wanted wasn’t there, however before I had time to deliberate over a drink, the waiter returned. With my best practised Vietnamese, I said I would like the ‘Bun Rieu Cua’ and I enquired about the Avocado Smoothie, only to receive a blank look from the waiter. He didn’t seem to understand what I was saying so I pointed to the menu. My mum always makes me repeat after her pronunciation of my favourite dishes, so that was a bit irksome that this waiter had no idea what I was talking about. He also repeated avocado back to me in a puzzled tone. So I opted for the coconut juice instead. He returned not long after to tell me that there wasn’t any coconut juice left. Brilliant. It was as if fate was annoyingly trying to remind me that I was a student. Frustrated, I just asked for tap water instead.
The food arrived, I was impressed with the portion sizes. I had a massive bowl of noodles. Usually in noodle places, I always find myself with a few strands of noodles floating around in a massive bowl of soup. However I found that the ratios were definitely pleasing. I remember coming across the few pieces of pork belly and just thinking that there wasn’t really a place for it, it was plain and boiled and didn’t add any flavour to the dish really. I never understand how people can eat bun/pho without any greens. The coriander, the mint, spring onion and bean sprouts (yes, I’m aware they aren’t green) all have a place in those dishes, whether it’s the textures, the crunch, the freshness or flavours! The actual broth and crab mixture were really flavourful, it wasn’t spicy, but that’s what that trusty bottle of sriracha sauce is for, am I right? I liked the amount of salad they provided, the pieces of lettuce softened in the broth, I know some people like crunchy salad but I actually really like it when it’s softened in hot dishes. Though I wished they did something more interesting with the pork belly, I feel like they just added it right at the end before serving. The dish could genuinely still equally deliver without the pork belly but nonetheless I left this restaurant with a happy and full belly.