180 Lavender Hill, Battersea, London SW11 5TQ
122 Kingsland Road, Shoreditch, E2 8DP
Price: £20 per person
The thing I like most about Vietnamese cuisine is its freshness. Within my limited non-first hand London experience of South-East Asian food, I believe I might prefer it to Thai or Malaysian – which, although delicious and full of flavours, I find slightly heavier.
Mien Tay is a wonderful embodiment of traditional, down-to-earth Vietnamese cuisine. The menu encompasses a lot of dishes you would probably not find in the more Westernised places – such as frog legs, eels, goat and quails. Bring it on!
We tried both restaurants in Clapham and Shoreditch – what? no! we were not attempting to overstuff our stomaches with delicious Vietnamese food! It was purely done to give you readers a full and detailed account of the experience!
Most of the dishes we ordered are an absolute must try: chargrilled quail, galangal goat, Vietnamese curry and the traditional Pho – noodles soup.
On the other hand, the ginger and spring onion scallops were not exciting, a bit of a sloppy work, with the poor scallops drawing in a brownish, ginger-flavoured sauce. The chow mien were also not the best dish we had, although the prawns were very nice, as they were in other dished we tried.
The honey based glaze of the chargrilled quail was extremely nice, the meat itself was fresh and juicy – we thoroughly enjoyed it. Another exquisiteness was the salt, pepper and garlic squid – a common dish in Asian cuisine that hardly keeps up to expectations though. Fully met in this case! Big, fresh chunks of squid battered in a light paste. Guilty, I had it twice in a meal!
The mains were equally delicious…and colourful. In Shoreditch I had a bright, varied and filling plate of rice noodles with stir-fried prawns, chilli and lemongrass. It was a delight to both the eyes and the palate. Full of vegetables and light spices, it was a superfood meal and did not make me fill overfull.
The traditional Pho – or noodle soup – was also a joy, made with a very light, clear but tasty broth of beef, almost resembling an European consommé. Another point of note was the Vietnamese chicken curry, and the galangal goat which in my opinion both beat KaoSarn’s Thai green curry.
Do not expect a great service, I doubt this is the element the owners are betting on. But at Mien Tay you do get very good, generous food for cheap prices. After a nice Vietnamese meal, you can join the young crowd in Shoreditch or Clapham and immerse yourself in London’s nightlife, experiencing the city at its fullest potential.