My favorite place to get a bowl of pho in London, mainly due to the lack of good options.
Vietnamese food in general confuses me in London. Since when does pho dac biet mean add shrimp, pork and chicken???? When I want dac biet, I want tendon, tripe, brisket and flank.
Song Que is the only place I've found so far that doesn't add random non-beef animals to their pho dac biet. Order a large bowl and add beef balls for an extra quid. While the soup doesn't match any of the offerings I've had in North America, at least they have Huy Fong sriracha!
People who frequent this place know that it's a bit of a canteen. No frills, hi turnover but solid food.
I love their Bo La Lot (BBQ'd beef wrapped in betel leaf) because it's charcoal grilled (unlike many places that cook it on a flat-top) and has shredded beef (rather than the minced beef- cheaper, no doubt...). Their Pho has a deep, sans-MSG base and I love their Flank, Tendon & tripe (leaf tripe) version; one choice amongst a page-ful. Personally, their pho tops all of the ones I've tried in London, including Mama Pho & Cafe East.
We often order their 'spicy squid' which is the same as Chinese 'salt & pepper' squid. However, it has an amazing crunchy [un-soggy] batter, with chillis, garlic & spring onions. It is so much better than many Chinese restaurants can do.
What else can one say? In the last year, they have jacked up their prices, particularly noticeable in their starters. Many starters are now around the £6-£8 mark and this has turned Song Que's from café-prices to restaurant-prices. I don't begrudge them too much though, as, for me, they are the best Vietnamese place on Kingsland Road. Totally detour-worthy.
Oh, they have also, a couple years ago, re-done their hell-hole toilets to ones that I no longer have to hold my breath from the top of the stairs for...
It's hard to find good Asian food in London, and there's a lot of mediocre and overpriced Vietnamese places here served by non-Asian waiters.
So when I came here with a friend I was happy to see that it was a restaurant with Asian waiters, and full of customers of different ethnicities. It was super packed for a weekday evening, but we got seated pretty quickly and the food was also fast.
I loved how the pho came in a huge bowl (the true way of serving pho) and brimming with soup and spring onions, and my friend who is a vegetarian was really happy with her fried rice and vegetables. Vietnamese anywhere else in the world is known to be inexpensive, so for the price we wish we got more but the food was good enough for us to be happy.
This is my second favourite Vietnamese restaurant on Kingsland Road, only losing to Viet Grill. The food is great, and not too expensive. The one dish it does beat the Viet Grill on is the pho, which I think is the best in the area, with a really meaty stock. My other usual is the BBQ pork and shredded pork vermicelli. The service can be a little erratic at times.
The 4th meal here! We ordered beef stew which is quite different from pho but still get highly compliment ;the well cooked beef brisket n carrot pieces r just so tasty!
The service was fast and friendly, but the food was just average. The bun bo hue was disappointing. It had different noodles than I'm used to and the flavor wasn't quite right (to me).
Meh. That just about sums it up. As some of you may know from my other reviews - I do a different Pho every month with two of my girlfriends here in London. This one I actually did on my own, following a workout @Frame_Shoreditch and on my way home via Kingsland Road. I tend to get easy distracted by stickers touting "Yelp Loves us" "Timeout recommends", etc. you know the drill - and Song Que has these plastered everywhere. Additionally, the restaurant was pretty full so I figured this would be a good sign.
I chose the pork and prawns Pho.
Food: Meh - Lots of brown and noodles stuck together - 3 prawns and 3 things of pork. Not impressed. The food came out pretty quick - probably because they wanted the woman in a track suit eating alone with her International Herald Tribune to get moving! With all the other great choices along Kingsland road my only suggestion: look elsewhere.
Service: Like I said quick, but not friendly. The younger servers were attentive enough, the older ones just grunted at me a bit when I asked which table I should seat myself at. When it came time to pay, I asked for the bill and before I could lift my wallet from the table, they were already cleaning up the table and sending me out. Thanks.
If you are searching for SE Asian cuisine in the neighborhood it's tough to choose from so many.
Song Que's Vietnamese food is excellent. The menu is humongous but the classics will not disappoint. The Pho is a favorite.
While the bright light interior fails to help a faulty complexion, the attentive staff make any desire for food or drink a reality in seconds.
Three different Vietnamese beers to choose from and they are ice cold.
This place fed me through my student years here in the UK, best Vietnamese joint in London, but then again it's the UK, so expectations have to be much lower.
They would not be high on the list here in SoCal or the U.S. for that matter, but they are the spot for Vietnamese food in London. Solid food, decent service, tables are too close together but they're always pack so can you blame them?
I went to Song Que last week for dinner and was very impressed. Their pork vermicelli is hands down the best I've tried in London. The soft shell crab was very good, we had a pork main that came with mushrooms and spring onions that wasn't so good unfortunately. I'll definitely be going back to try their pho.
The first time I came here there were people waiting to be seated, so I decided to come back before the dinner rush another day.
The layout is more communal than I am used to; most of the tables are side by side, so you sit pretty close to strangers. I was also placed at a table with most of the seats already taken rather than an empty.
I ordered spring rolls for appetizer, and duck with mushrooms and bamboo stouts for dinner. The spring rolls were crisper than most that I've had. I also think the oil or the batter used was atypical as they had a peculiar flavor that I could not decipher. The duck was perfect. It was in a light colored sauce with scallions which was complemented by the mushrooms and bamboo stouts.
No problems with service. The food was prepared extremely quickly. My appetizer came out in about three minutes, and my entree came out three or four minutes after the appetizer.
On a cold, blustery evening in...May...my sister (visiting from the US) and I were craving a hot, flavourful bowl of pho. I live quite close to the Dalston/Kingsland Road neighbourhood, yet hadn't ever been in any of the Vietnamese restaurants on that strip of the road, so we decided to give it a try tonight. Being from the Los Angeles area, where quality (and vegetarian!) Vietnamese food is pretty ubiquitous, we've been accustomed to a certain standard of this cuisine (ie, a restaurant that carries mushroom/vegetable broth at all times, and is frequented by a certain Brad Pitt, like my favourite pho joint in LA....) that I unfortunately hadn't yet found in London (maybe my standards are a bit unrealistic at this point). As a result, we were a bit dubious when entering Song Que, but our worries were soon allayed.
The foodie lowdown:
-There was no tofu/veggie summer roll on the menu, but we asked if the chef could make us some and it was done. The peanut/sriracha/hoisin/garlic dipping sauce that was served with the rolls was absolutely delicious, as well.
-I had checked out the menu beforehand, and there seemed to be no vegetarian pho...only a 'tofu' one. When ordering it, I asked if the broth was veggie, too; it was a good thing I did, as the standard broth for that dish was chicken, and it had to be swapped out for a vegetable one. Pretty good, overall, but (as was somewhat expected), lacking in the flavour department -- as my sister correctly pointed out, our soup ended up being a shocking bright red colour, due to all of the sriracha and chili oil that we added to it. Still, the portions were generous, the tofu and noodles cooked well, and the garnishes fresh and plentiful.
-Being big aubergine lovers (and only having discovered this love in the last 5 years of life), we ordered a side of pan-fried aubergine with garlic and spring onions. We opted not to get rice, because there were already a lot of noodles/carbs in the pho, but I kind of wish we had...there was quite a lot of stir-fry sauce that went to waste, because we didn't have anything to soak it up with. Had we gotten rice, though, I might have exploded...and not been able to write this review. Be thankful.
-Though we didn't have dessert or drinks, the table next to us ordered coconut water/meat that they had to return two separate times because it seemed to taste funny/potentially have gone off. The waiter helping them was getting really defensive about it, too, insisting over and over again that nothing was wrong. Eh. Regardless of who was in the right this time around, be careful with that one...
In the end, we left more than justifiably full for having spent just £18.80 -- what a deal. Not Brad Pitt, LA, good, but solid.
Why yes, I do say that this was some divinely slurptastic pho. But the real reason that Song Que blew me away and will keep me coming back for more was the feisty and quick witted service.
Let me jump back: For years I planned to be a teacher. And wouldn't you know it, my dream was to teach middle-schoolers. (To translate, those are the painfully snotty children ages 11-14.) There's something about their innocent assholishness that I adore. Sarcastic as all get out, if you are able to gain their fleeting respect, you can probably rule the world. So long story short, I really enjoy spunk, mouthiness, and yes, a bit of a challenge from those around me. It keeps me on my game!
So when our server threw back some playful attitude when I kept changing my mind on my appetizer, I knew we'd chosen the right place.
When he teased us for "living large" and ordering an £11 bottle of wine, I knew that I was already a devoted fan.
And when he told us with a straight face that a to-go box would be an additional £10 each, I knew I'd be back again and again.
I came here expecting good Vietnamese cuisine following positive reviews. I have to say this was my most disappointing meal of the year considering the recommendations.
I'm a fan of Mien Tay and am shocked that it is not frequented to the same level. The food is considerably better. Song Que left me with bland flavours, poor service and a feeling of hunger despite the several courses four of us devoured. That all preceded a bill of magnitude which I've never seen at a place in 'Little Hanoi'.
Perhaps it was poor ordering, but I don't think I can recommend this at all. The daylight style evening lighting was shocking too. Thoroughly disappointed.
Despite Mien Tay removing their BYOB policy, I would go there over Song Que. eurgh
I don't often venture unto east London but Song Que's reputation drew me here out of curiosity as I had developed a real taste for pho on US trips.
It must be good to stand out in an area with so many other Vietnamese restaurants. However, the tag of cafe is accurate and expect the bustly street food type atmosphere you would find in other 'oriental long table' experiences. However, service was efficient, necessary to turn the tables over with the speed that they do.
OF course I had to try the famous pho and connoisseurs recommend the rare sliced steak with soup noodles. The portion was certainly generous. The steak was tender and the soup suitably meaty with depth of flavour, balanced out with basil and lime juice.
The rice paper roll was suitably fresh with flavours bursting out in my mouth with the first bite.
It was worth a foray into east London
Don't confuse Song Que with all the other Vietnamese eateries on this stretch of Kingsland... sure, you can sit down in a convivial setting, peruse a long menu of wonderful dishes and eat like King for just a few quid, but don't think you can just whip out your own bottle of wine and corkscrew and get chugging the booze back... Song Que is NOT a BYOB!
Imagine our embarrassed faces when our poor little waiter ran over to wag his finger at us for getting started on our Chenin Blanc without first checking it was ok. Ooops... CRUSHING SHAME.... he big he big, we small.
To be honest he was very nice about it and let us finish what we'd poured, which was the obvious lovely person thing to do. Lovely food, lovely people. It's no wonder Song Que is Vietnamese London's top dog.
Where has the... crispy fried egg pancake stuffed with sprouts, chicken, and prawn, served with fresh mint and basil and fish sauce... been all my life?! Thanks to the magic of wikipedia, I believe the proper Vietnamese name for it is bánh xèo.
Although I recall it being listed under the starters, it might as well have been a meal for two. P.S. If anyone has found a way to consume this dish gracefully, without dripping things all over your arms and onto the tablecloths, do let me know.
Plus, for the decision-challenged yelpers of the world, you're in luck when it comes to the angelhair-esque bún. You needn't have to choose between spring rolls, grilled pork, or shredded pork with your noodles... you can have all of the above in one bowl! Sheer brilliance (where 'brilliance' is read 'gluttony').
And bonus points for staying open late. Though their hours officially close at 2300 on a Monday night, we definitely witnessed a gent walk in and get seated around 2215. -That's- a promising situation, if I've ever seen one in this city.
I've come to the conclusion that Vietnamese food is just not for me. There's always something disappointing about it, the food just doesn't live up to what I think it's going to be when I read that menu.
Song Que serves up good Pho though I'll give it that, but I'm just not feeling how a big bowl of water (with a handful of solids), that goes through me minutes and leaves me hungry, can be classed as dinner .
The place has a canteen feel about it and don't be surprised if you're sitting 10cm away from other diners.
I've had my fair share of Pho, and I must commend Song Que on ranking top five pho experiences in my life.
At the end of pho mile, Song Que is a large, unpretentious space filled with hot soup and loud chatter. The word has gotten out, so make a reservation to avoid the line.
Coming from a Vietnamese background and having been to Vietnam and growing up on Vietnamese food, I thought Song Que ranks as one of the better restaurants in London. I tried the following dishes and thought I'd give a review about them first.
Vietnamese food should be simple and Song Que keeps it just that. I am a big fan of cold rolls (summer rolls) and am not really a big pho eater. I thought the cold rolls were very authentic (contained prawn, pork belly, vermicelli and lettuce). The dipping sauce was very nice and authentic too. I've tried cold rolls in most restaurants in London and I think this one comes closest to what my mum would make at home!
The Vietnamese pancake was average. It was a medium portion but they forgot to bring out the lettuce that is used to wrap the pancake. I think they need to show people how to eat the pancake, otherwise no one would know what to do unless your someone who has had it before. It was tasty but they need to bring more lettuce on the side!
Salt and pepper squid - very nicely deep fried, but not oily. It was very tasty and definitely looked authentic. Must try i say.
Lemongrass beef vermicelli - I had this as my main and i think this dish was delicious! Good ratio of meat, salad and noodles. Some Vietnamese restaurants get this ratio incorrect, but Song Que got it right! So 5/5 for this dish!
3 coloured bean drink - yum!
Aside from the decor not being very nice, the food is worth it and service is quick. But i think that's what you should expect from a Vietnamese restaurant. Well for me, it's all about the food!
This is the spot in all the guide books. The one filled with white people and American tourists. Usually that means it isn't as good. Not true with Song Que. Their Pho is quite tasty. Get the Rare Steak Pho (It is fully cooked by time it sits in the hot broth).
Now... my big issue with this place is that it isn't the BEST on the street. It is on par with the other places on the road, particularly Hung Viet next door. If Song Que is too busy (as it frequently is), just go to Hung Viet next door. Just as good, and a smige more affordable.
Oh god oh god oh god I came here last night and I've finally realised/remembered how mediocre all other pho is in London.
This is the only place in London I've found where you can get tripe and other cuts of beef in the soup rather than just the usual steak. The service was fine, the waiters are quite jokey with the customers and very giggly! All I can comment about food wise is the pho, which was amazing, and huge! As far as pho goes, it's expensive... But it's worth it. I feel like I never want to try anywhere else ever again.
Not much more than has already been said is really needed. Couldn't agree with the below reviews more; fun atmosphere, great reasonable food, speedy but efficient service. The chicken pancake is one of my favorites, along with summer rolls that were so fresh I felt like I had turned left on Kingsland Road into the Cotswolds.
It puts most other Vietnamese restaurants in London to shame on the quality/price scale
Often cited as one of the best Vietnamese restaurants of the many on Kingsland Road, but, as another reviewer mentioned, I think it really just looks the most inviting; the vibrant green sign with its gold lettering loudly announces Song Que's existence and looks professionally done - unlike some of the more homemade-looking banners hanging above some of the other surrounding establishments. Song Que's glass doors are inviting: they've been plastered with reviews from Timeout and other respectable publications, plus give you a glimpse at its clean and spacious-looking interior, which is likely buzzing with people dining under economical fluorescent lighting.
The visual appeal on offer here is all relative to the surroundings - so certainly don't think you're in for a polished dining experience. It actually could be compared to a coarser version of Wagamama - the tables are long and communal, the service is snappity snap, and you've got to chase down your individual condiment cruets of soy and Sriracha sauce.
I came here with my sister and we ordered spring rolls to share and I had both stir fried tofu and some garlicky vegetables. I wasn't in love with what I had - it seemed just a touch greasier than then authentic Vietnamese food I've had elsewhere (both on Kingsland Road and, in ahem, Viet Nam), which leaves me with the impression that this isn't the best place to get Vietnamese veggie fare in the area.
However, my sister really enjoyed her pho, which is pronounced FUH (if you didn't already know) and is considered one of the highlights of Vietnamese cuisine - I can't personally savor this dish since they're all made with meat stock, but wish I could, since it's supposed to be divine and is just so FUHn to say...
The best part of the meal, however, was the fact that our waiter was convinced that my sister (who is a rather statuesque blonde) was a movie star - which meant he treated us with the utmost consideration - and also insisted that I take his picture with her before we left.
Yet another stop on my friend quest for good Pho in London. This place is amazing. Very flavorful Pho and their other dishes are just as delicious!
It's about the same price as Pho at any other place in London, around 7, which for anyone from America - this is very expensive for Pho. Since you are going to pay this price anywhere in London - you might as well have good food!
I would highly recommend this place!
hmm, pho wasn't great. Coming from LA, where pho is super good and half the price, CMON 7 quid for mediocre pho, it was not nice.
Although I think the other stuff was pretty good, my friend ordered the vermicelli with meat assortments and it was aiite. The plus thing is the prawn crackers FOR FREE, I think I just filled up on that. All in all it was ok .. meh.
At less than 8 pounds for a bowl of pho, i'm down! While visiting the Geffyre Museum, i saw this street of pho restaurants... came home, and Yelped some pho places to see which is good and this came up so here I went with my friend on Thursday.
I ordered the #140 which is like flank and rare meat or something pho and it was fine. They bring you these crisps at the beginning...I also got a coke and they give you a lime and a glass and then the can. My pho was good, it doens't beat boston, oh no..but it definitely better than places I've been. I guess i'm used to specific noodles and soup so I'm a bit biased..and a pho snob. But this is fine to grab a bite and I don't mind coming again. It's a bit out of the way because you need to take the OG..but whatever...it's SO close to the tube station! High ceilings, and lots of caucasians so i guess they know wassup in london lol. There were some asians so I was like "okay, this should be okay..as it's the most famous"
*service is quick and they always clear away your plates! NICE!!! London needs more of these places
To be honest I went there just to try the pho, as it seemed to be one of the best of London here.
I took the pho with tripes, it wasn't bad but not great. For me the key to pho is the broth, it was here light colored, not perfumed enough.Tripes that lacked of taste.
I didn't even finish it when i arrived starving...
Anyone who can tell me where to find great tasty pho, let me know!!
I'd always wanted to try one of the Vietnamese restaurants on Kingsland Road but had never been sure which one to go for. However, after asking around a little and getting advice from friends and family Song Que Cafe came out as a clear favourite.
We knew that this was a popular place but trying to book a table turned out to be very difficult and our 8.30 preferred time slot was almost laughed at. In the end we arrived at 7 and were quickly shown to our table. I say quickly because the staff in here are almost obsessive about table turning and will rush you at every opportunity. Once you get used to this though the atmosphere in the place is actually friendly and although tables are squashed together and you may be sitting next to people you've never met before there is a general feeling of fun and excitement.
Noodle soup is Song Que's delicious speciality and comes two sizes- a regular bowl for those who want to order a few things from across the menu and what can only be described as a troth for those who just can't get enough of that soupy goodness. There was something weirdly impressive watching people tackle this mammoth portion as the soup itself is incredibly filling. Though I would recommend it, I think it would be a shame to only try the soup and not get a taste for the rest of the menu. The soft shell crab and prawn rolls are other great dishes not to be missed out on. Great food and fun times that everyone can enjoy!
Kingsland Road is known for the copious amounts of Vietnamese restaurants! They are all delicious; it is so hard to choose which one to go to! Some are Bring Your Own which is just perfect when in a big group no need to worry about who consumed what, you can just split the food bill! Talking about the bill, Vietnamese is extremely good quality for money. If you have a budget you can easily stick to it.
Son Que is my favourite at the moment (it changes regularly) for starter's seaweed is a must and rice prawn rolls with chilli sauce! The main is always a little difficult, but the vermicelli prawn noodles and mango fish are the best. My other favourite is noodle soup - extremely tasty and filling due to the rice noodles. Great for couples, friends and parties! Just be aware food comes out randomly and they can rush you if you don't set a slow pace. Enjoy!
Kingsland Rd is full of Vietnamese restaurants but Song Que is among the better ones. We tried the BBQ vermicelli rice bowl, bun bo hue, and some spring rolls. The BBQ pork was lean and tender and did not have as much grisly stuff as other places. The bun bo hue noodles were a bit peculiar compare to the noodles I normally have with this dish. They were not uniform and a bit challenging to eat.
Out of a whole street of Vietnamese restaurants, Song Que appears to be the most inviting and serves extremely good authentic Vietnamese food. Its layout is simple, nothing special about it, and if it gets packed the tables become communal.
We shared a portion of their Vietnamese spring rolls, a plate of fried noodles and a bowl of soup noodles. The beef soup noodles was excellent, and came in a large bowl filled with steaming hot broth and filled with a complimentary melange of spices. Such flavours as ginger, basil, mint are fused together to produce the most salivating flavours.
Service is quick, and you don't have to wait long until the food arrives ready to be gobbled up. The complete unpretentiousness of the restaurant allows you to just get on with your food and enjoy it as messily as you want. The prices are extremely reasonable as well.
This locality has pho places a dime a dozen and most of them have quite the following, but I should be the president of the Song que fan club, as I belive it has the best vietnamese food on Kingsland Road.
Now Song que is quite the institution, as it has been around for a while and I belive shall stick around because it is not only serves scrumptious food, but in these times of austerity is good value for money !!!
The place has minimal decour as is what i would imagine a big canteen in a communist part of south east asia would look like !
Ther service is good and quick and the waiters tend to remember you !
Now my dear friends when you go to a restaurant that specializes in a certian type of food/cuisine I would advise you to stick to it !!!
really guys when you go to a chinese restaurant you won't ask for a burger now will you !!
So when you will go to Song que (and I know) you will go I advise you to order the vietnamese food !!
The menu is quite dauting with its variety, but for starters stick to the spicy squid or the soft shell crab, the summer rolls are lovely and fresh, but a real Viet classic is pancake !! Get it all and share the love
For the main course order the pho, which is a gorgeous soup (with an arromatic broth ) and hand made noodles and beef cuts of your choice(offal is part of that shoice)
be adventerous and ask the waiter for viet specials and stay clear of their chinese dishes, its not their food and they are not good at it !
Now I must explain myself, the reason why I am harping on asking for advice and sticking to the viet dishes is because I visited a few days ago and four people sat on the table close to us and explained to their waiter that they had never had viet food and did not know anything, the waiter they got recomended afew viet specialities, but was running around. Being the good freindly samaritan that I am I gave them some recomendations and got some strange not very freindly looks, My dinner partner told me to leave them be (but i love talking and helping people, i would like others to do do that to me guys )
alas that table order the chinese dishes which where oily and not nice and left miserable!!!
So my dear friends what is the moral of the story ..... when in rome do as the romans and listen to kindly, freindly advise from smiling strangers !!
My husband and I are recent transplants from Arlington, VA, where we were lucky enough to live just a few blocks from Pho 75. The restaurant is a stark white affair with cafeteria tables and you doctor and slurp your soup shoulder to shoulder with strangers. As the name implies, it does one thing - pho - and does it well. The only thing you have to decide is what meat to put in the bowl.
We had been missing our pho fix and Pho on St. John Street only scratched the itch, so we made the trek to Song Que and were greatly rewarded.
We started with the summer rolls and they were a light, delicious mouthful of prawns and mint. The accompanying sauce already had a dollop of sriracha and we added a little more.
I had a glass of iced coffee with condensed milk and it was a little off the mark. The coffee was pre-made and poured cold out of a plastic jug. It just didn't have the same jolt as the thick Vietnamese coffee straight from the filter that melts the ice as it goes into the glass. Plus, I think part of what makes Vietnamese coffee so good is that you have to wait for it to brew in the little metal contraption that sits on top of your glass. Needing that bit of patience makes it that much sweeter.
Next up - the Pho. It was done the right way with rare meat left to cook in the piping hot broth. I had a bowl with eye of round and flank steak and my husband had the same with the addition of tripe. I don't think any food begs to be customized more than pho and after we worked out magic our soups were completely different.
Mine made my nose run with copious amounts of sriracha, chili paste and raw chillies and was mellowed with some Thai basil, lime juice, bean sprouts and fish sauce. My husband's had a little sriracha and a lot of lime juice. He prefers to keep the bean sprouts and munch them cold after finishing his soup.
The bowls were enormous and I only made it through half of the soup. We left and braved the rainy walk home with our bellies full of hot, spicy soup. I can't wait to return.
On a cool night after getting a headache from staring at spreadsheets for too long at the office, a great remedy is a noodle soup at a Vietnamese restaurant. We have been to a nice Vietnamese in the Hoxton area before and we noticed a lot of other options - so we decided to try another one this time.
This was the first one we saw after the short walk from the Hoxton overground. It looked busy (which is a good sign) so we went inside and got a table for two close to the bar. This place specialises in beef noodle soup (pho) so I got one with beef flank and tendon. It was tasty and filling. The beef was really tender and seemed to melt in my mouth.
The staff were friendly and accommodating and they weren't phased by the busy-ness of the restaurant. I would definitely come back here, but may try other Vietnamese restaurants in the area to build up my list. If you are hungry for Vietnamese, this is definitely the area to go!
I was hit by a gnawing pho craving this afternoon, so I did some research into the Vietnamese restaurants in London. Perhaps it's because I've been spoiled rotten by the abundance of good pho restaurants in Los Angeles, but I was seriously shocked by the lack of options. In the end, I chose Song Que after reading various gushing reviews.
I made the long trek over from the Old Town tube station in the pouring rain, and the first thing the waiter did when I entered was toss my umbrella into a bin and steer me into a seat at the same table as a lovey dovey couple. That kind of threw me off -- I understand conserving space in a restaurant with the kind of layout they had, but it was 5:30 on a Monday afternoon and the place was only 1/4 full. I ordered the pho with steak, flank, and tripe. The good: decent-sized portion, well-cooked noodles. The bad: bland broth, very little meat. I'd say not bad for the price, but considering I can get outstanding pho in LA for $5, £6.30 for mediocre pho just doesn't cut it.
Overall, Song Que was a bit of a let down. Next time I'll try another one of the restaurants on Kingsland, or maybe a different dish off the Song Que menu.
Featured on Time Out London's top 50 restaurants, reviewed by Fodor's - a top travel guide, and obtaining an overall user rating of 9.3 on London-Eating. Need I say more?
Frankly, I'm embarrassed to say that this is the first time I have come across this place in my four years in London. This will be the one place that rolls off the tip of my tongue from now on if I'm asked for my recommendation of a good Vietnamese restaurant. And among other Asian restaurants that I frequent, this ranks near the top for its quality and value for money.
After a nice lengthy stroll from Old Street Station to get the appetite up, the place initially disappoints on decor. Walking in there is certainly a homely feel, although the warmth doesn't seem to be there. The walls are plain, and the lighting is somewhat dim, giving off a very sterile impression. However, overall it is a clean place with ample space and fast service.
The menu consists of mostly Vietnamese and some Chinese and other Asian food. Pho, the noodle broth dish, is clearly their speciality with over 20 different kinds. For the adventurous, there are the traditional ones with beef, tripe, and other cow parts. For the less adventurous, there is the standard rare steak (just thin strips of beef that are just cooked) or strips of chicken.
As you can see in the picture above (credit to Tasty Treats @ Wordpress), the noodles come in massive bowls, with ample portions of rice noodles, beef, and beansprouts. And for £6ish you can't go wrong either! We ordered the fried spring rolls (£4) for the starter, which were very tasty. What impressed us most was that they also served homemade soya bean milk, which is the first time I've seen it in London. It is well worth the £1.30, as making fresh soya bean milk involves alot of energy and time, and even in South East Asian countries many restaurants have stopped making it as it is just not worth the effort. Extra kudos to Song Que!
Although our experience was nice while we were at the restaurant, half an hour later after leaving both my friend and I started getting dry mouths, a symptom of MSG and other flavoring ingredients. To be honest if was one of the worst dry mouths I've had after a meal in London, with most restaurants very ethical about not using too much of it.
My London friends had tried multiple Vietnamese restaurants and claimed that this is one of the better Vietnamese restaurants. Thus, I had to try it.
Upon walking into the restaurant, I knew that this place might be great for me. The place was not pretentious looking at all and looked quite homey (similar to what I would see Vietnamese restaurants in Chinatown, New York City). It was busy on a Saturday night, but we didn't wait long for a table. The staff there was pretty efficient.
Had the beef pho with different types of beef (beef balls, raw beef, etc). It was nice comfort food for me. Warm and tasty. I had a great portion for the price I paid. Truly enjoyed my meal there!
I'll admit it... I've only been there once! It is quite a walk from my house, but I'm willing to try it again.
I almost got Song Que mixed up with the other surrounding cafes since I was coming down the street from the other side. It's the largest restaurant on the block. Btw, prepare to get cozy with your neighbors when it's really busy. You'll be sitting semi-elbow to elbow with others. Luckily, my husband and I had the pleasure of sitting next to some lovely people. We had met new friends!
Other than the company, the food wasn't bad, but I wasn't impressed. We shared the sampler and I had a simple bowl of pho. I was surprised it wasn't offered with two sizes, like at most places, but it wasn't hard to finish. The sampler was okay. And the pho was okay. Nothing to rave about. But of course I'm willing to come back and try lots of other menu options! We had lots of recommendations from our neighbors and their food did look tasty!
I've been to a couple of the other places on Kingsland Road (and my apologies--I have just discovered that I didn't review one of the places I tried over the summer--the greatest of Yelp sins--please forgive me!).
Song Que seemed to be all the rage at some point and thus it was high on my list and I thought it would be the shining star on the Little Saigon strip.
It was definitely tasty--had summer rolls, a nice lotus salad and some noodles....no complaints at all. The vibe was good too--definitely lots of people late at night enjoying good food.
I felt that the menu lacked the creativity of Thang Loi (that's the one I forgot to review, dang it!) and some of the care in the cooking of Mien Tay. But have no doubt about it--still all and all a very good Vietnamese restaurant.
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