Monday, 5 July 2010
Tay Do, 60 Kingsland Road London E2 8DP
We used to go to Viet Grill all the time, which is right next door to Tay Do. Then, one day, our friends took us to Tay Do, the place with lots of tables, lots of chairs, and not enough space – and we absolutely loved the food there. Not that we don’t like the food at Viet Grill, but they are good at different things, so where we go depends on what we want to eat.
Viet Grill is great for its grilled meat – the Feudal Beef and Beef Vinh is so very absolutely tender and lip-smackingly delicious. Even talking about it is making me want to eat it. However, Viet Grill is more about one-dish meals, ie dishes on rice or noodles (aside from the grilled meats).
Tay Do, on the another hand, according to me anyway, is more about mixing dishes, for sharing, almost like a big meal where everyone eats a little bit of everything. This may not be true, especially for those really large groups that seem to come here all the time, as I usually find them ordering one-dish meals. Thing is, whenever we go there, we order dishes to share, so that’s how I tend to perceive this place.
The menu here is a multi-page, laminated affair. Page after page of Vietnamese goodies, maybe a few too many dishes for my liking as I find myself sitting there for a good half an hour contemplating what I want to whittle down the list to. Thing is, when we go with said friends, they make it easy for us by ordering what they know is good.
Every single time we’ve been here, this long table has been filled with a large group. I’m not really sure how they get that many large groups dining here all the time, and in fact, the whole restaurant is usually filled to the point that walking through the tables becomes a sort of art-form – tray balancing, it could be called.
So our favourite here is the King Prawn Fresh Summer Rolls (£4). More generous in portions than their Viet Grill neighbour, these little parcels of translucent, fresh-tasting delights are my absolute favourites. There’s something about eating something which tastes almost of nothing, and the strength of the dish lies only in the freshness of the ingredients, and the mixture of textures coming from the fresh green vegetables, the stringy noodles, and the crunchy fresh king prawn.
Each bite is a pleasure, made even more so by the peanut, sweet, soy-based dipping sauce.
Another one of our favourite starters is the Beef Salad (£7.50). Not exactly sure how they cook the beef, but from the taste, it is first marinated in the usual Vietnamese marinade (usual, I say, because I reckon it includes some form of fish sauce), and then possible seared ever so quickly before it is sliced finely and mixed in with the salad. The whole dish then becomes a lovely (small-ish) explosion of sweet, sour, fresh, tangy, oniony, meaty mixture.
This is a must-try. The Beef Wrapped In Betel Leaf with Rice Paper and Salad (£8.50) is listed on the starter section, but I would happily have this all to myself as a main meal. In fact, I would happily have it all to myself as a starter. Little pieces of beef which cannot possibly be more flavourful than it is (really, it can’t be any more flavourful, just no way). Each one is so perfectly charred, salty, sweet, very meaty, and the betel leaf is amazing (not had betel leaf anywhere else so it might be unfair to compare, but this is the best). The vermicelli is then added in with the little beefy mouth-watering parcels of joy, all wrapped in round, translucent, chewy, rice paper. I am forever-more intrigued by Vietnamese rice paper. Some of you might know that I have this thing about chewy food, anything that is chewy is most probably something that I will like. Which is why sometimes, in dim sum, I eat the Har Gau wrapper first before the prawn.
Then, we get to the main meal dishes. This is the Chargrilled Pork with Rice Vermicelli (£7). Remember those flavourful beef pieces above? Uh huh, these pieces of pork could not be more flavourful than they are. Imagine all that flavour and meaty texture accompanied by fresh, bouncy, chewy, strings of vermicelli, acting like a tasteless palate for all that meaty goodness.
Here’s something we’ve not ordered before, but as I felt like having some seafood that day, I thought, why not. The Chilli and Lemongrass with Mixed Seafood on Steamed Rice (£8.50). Though we could have had a bit more seafood in the dish, the dish was certainly full of wok-hei (meaning, wok fire – which is used to describe a dish which has been cooked well, in a wok which has plenty of heat so that the food is cooked just right). Each piece of seafood (and even the onions) tasted so good – slightly nutty, sweet, salty, almost like it had black bean in it. Absolutely loved the dish.
And how can we have Vietnamese without the pho. My friends ordered the Chicken, Shredded Egg and Vietnamese Pork Salami in Rice Vermicelli Soup (£7) which looked like pho, and from what they said, tasted really good too.
Would I recommend this place? We’ve been here countless times and will hopefully continue to keep discovering more dishes here, so most definitely I would recommend this.
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