I’ve never had any other Vietnamese food in London, so I suppose this counts as the best I’ve had. It is certainly an oasis of pleasure in a run-down location, even if it looks like a squalid take-away.
Cafe East is not terribly large so if you want a table you have to turn up reasonably promptly after they open otherwise you’ll have to queue. When we were there it was heaving with Vietnamese people after a taste of home; I don’t think they were disappointed.
The menu is short and packed with noodle dishes. They some rice-noodle offerings, which helps those of us with wheat problems. There are a token few non-noodle dishes, like the sliced Vietnamese sausage we ordered, but it is clear these are not the main focus of the cuisine. The sliced sausage was meaty and quite satisfying.
Daniel’s noodles with raw beef certainly put a smile on his face, as did my rice noodles with chicken slices on mine. The broth they were served in had clearly seen plenty of bones to make a tasty stock; very powerfully flavoured. The noodles were quite delicious as were the bits of meat; Daniel was enthusiastic about the raw beef. Next time I will wimp out and ask for a fork, eating noodles with chopsticks is a bit of a drag.
Cafe East does not have an alcohol license and we failed to ask about the possibility of BYO for our next visit.
It may look a bit of a dump and be located in a serious dump, but the quality of the food cannot be denied. It is also a bargain noshing experience; it cost us £11 per person.
Contact details: Cafe East, 24 Evelyn Street, London SE8 5DG. 020 8691 7777
Photo by Kake Pugh.