Restaurants & Bars 12

The Viet Ho Cafe ( quite long )

Simon Majumdar | Oct 6, 2001 03:06 PM

When an area is described as "up & coming" by estate agents, it usually really means "carry a gun"

In the case of Kingsland High Road that always used to be true. It is the sort of area you would only ever go to to visit your hub caps. However in the last few years the whole area around Kingsland, Hoxton and Shoreditch has become hipper that Madonna's knickers.

In terms of eating out this usually means lots of bars and restaurants that serve food so bad it defies description and is aimed at prising money out of the pockets of 20-somethings with low slung jeans and lower slung morals. There are a few exceptions; Cantaloupe, a great restaurant in the back of a truly awful pub, The Great Eastern Dining Room and the surprisingly OK restaurant in HOME.

The real pleasure of this area however is the stretch on Kingsland High road just above Shoreditch which houses about 20 Vietnamese cafes and supermarkets. A legacy of the Boat people influx of the 70's this area is now one of the best options for eating cheaply ( as opposed to "cheap eats" a horrible term which evokes the vision of reclaimed meat burgers being proffered to would be Jarvis Cockers )

The best of these cafes is The Viet Ho. I have mentioned this before en passant, but I went there again last night on an impulse and was squeezed in downstairs. The whole place was packed with such a diverse crowd, from pashimina wearing Islingtonites- is that the word or do I mean tossers? to pre- club kiddies all extra ordinarily proud of the fact they had been given a "pay as you go" phone before they set off for college.

The wonder of this place is that within a menu of faux chinese which they told me they serve because " we would go bust other wise" they serve up some of the most delicious Vietnamese food at the most reasonable prices you can imagine.

Starters of deep fried tofu and prawn paste around sugar canes were fresh, hot and far from the bland stuff I have had elsewhere. We followed with a Talapia deep fried and served with mango. It was quite frankly superb and overshadowed a perfectly good roast duck Goi.

With a couple of beers each, this came to a measly £30 and given that up the road, David Eyre is selling pub food at about £60 per head, it puts it into true perspective.

There are other great Vietnamese places along the same road ( Ha Long, and The Hanoi Cafe to name but two ) this area deserves to become a destination.

I can really give it a hearty recommendation.

Nearest tube: Liverpool St



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