Friday, 4 September 2009
Tay Do (third review), 60 Kingsland Road, London, E2 8DP
Choosing a Vietnamese restaurant from the Old Street / Kingsland Road area is pretty much like trying to find something cheap in Harrods. Impossible (though not technically true, as the Krispy Kremes in Harrods are still within affordable limits).
Which is why there has to be a certain technique applied in choosing the location for dinner (always something that inspires hours of pondering and contemplating time). My method is this; when I’m with my friends who’re in the know (CV and JC), we go to Tay Do. When it’s me and the bf, we go to Viet Grill.
Why, you must be wondering (or not). This is because Tay Do’s menu is what I’d consider to be a proper local Vietnamese person’s menu, ie authentic. Which also means that I don’t have much clue about what is what, what is not what, and will most probably end up ordering 10 of the same noodles in different serving sizes.
So, when I have a person in the know with me, we immediately let them do the ordering, and sit back to enjoy the rewards.
The menu here is a shiny, hard-papered type book with dishes in local names as well as English descriptions (not that it’s any good when you don’t know what roasted rice powder is, anyone?).
Lotus roorlet salad with prawns (Goi Ngo Sen Tom Thit) £5.50
(I might have spelled roorlet incorrectly, as I don’t know what a roorlet is, don’t know what the alternative spelling of it could be, and this is what the menu said so here it is.)
Taste-wise, wonderful. Slightly sweet, slightly sour, and so refreshing; perfect as a starter to the meal to jazz those tastebuds up for what wonders are to come. Each bite of the vegetable was crunchy, slightly chewy, and the prawns were fresh and crunchy.
Beef salad (Bo Tai Chanh) £7
Another wonderful, refreshing little zing of a dish, with rare beef slices marinated in a combination of fish sauce, lime and something else (don’t know what but it was delicious). With each bite of beef balanced by a zesty bite of minty coriander, and then quickly washed down with a bite of the roorlets (refer above), pure enjoyment of the buds (taste).
Vegetable sour soup with seafood (Canh Chua Do Bien) £7.50
The better version of a tom yum soup, I’d say. Where tom yum soup is pretty much just sour and spicy (of course more than that, but you know how I am), the Vietnamese version has a combination of sweet, spicy, fishy and sour. With lots and lots of seafood, ladies fingers, and some other unidentified vegetable in the soup, this could be a dish in itself, eaten with steaming hot rice.
Chargrilled pork chop (Heo Cot Let Nuong Than) £5
Of all the dishes ordered, this was my least favourite, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as all the dishes we ordered were delicious. The reason I didn’t like this very much is because the meat was quite chewy and hard, perhaps it was the cut of meat? The marinade was tasty enough, it was the texture which ruined it for me.
Chicken with chilli and lemongrass (Ga Xao X a ot) £5.40
The ingredients used in this dish made it really tasty, really fragrant, and the best bits in the dish were the things left at the bottom, ie the crunchy, chewy bits which were slightly burnt. The chicken itself was only OK, though tender enough for chicken breast, but not surprisingly tasty or anything.
Aubergine with pork (Ca Tim Xao Voi Heo) £5.40
Comparing the Chinese (fish-fragrant style) version to this Vietnamese one, I prefer the Chinese version, simply because the Chinese version has more depth and flavour to the taste. This one tasted quite bland, like a plain stir fry with not much more to it, though the ingredients were fresh, well cooked and tender. Just slightly bland unfortunately.
Would I recommend this place? We usually come here when we have someone who knows what to order, as there is just too much to choose from. Saying that, yes, I would recommend you to come here, the atmosphere is good, the service is efficient, and most of the food is very tasty.
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