It was a quirky Australian girlfriend that introduced me to Vietnamese food during my intermission in Melbourne. Good old Germany in the 90’s was a bit of a culinary wasteland and having grown up in rather conservative Bavaria my exposure to international cuisine mainly consisted of visits to Döner Kebab stands, eating mountains of Gyros and Souvlaki at various Greek Taverns or ordering “Italian” food at ungodly Pizzerias. But all would change when in 2002 amazing Melbourne became my home for three years.
I lost my vietginity (boom!) at a Yum Cha joint on Victoria Street which probably wasn’t Vietnamese but rather Cantonese, however not knowing Asian food it all intimidated me equally. But to use an absolutely disproportionate quote – the brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but who conquers that fear. Nelson Mandela was right and I became a big fan of Asian cuisine in general and Vietnamese dishes in particular. Thank you Australia!
Cay Tre in Soho is a little pricey and despite what seems like half a battalion of staff their service can be quite inattentive, bordering on infuriating. Over the years my remedy has become to grab a stool directly at the front bar straight after walking in, no hesitations. You will save yourself a valuable amount of (lunch)time and can just leave cash at the counter without having to watch the staff get epically confused with the card machine.
What Cay Tre is lacking in service on the floor it makes up with quality in the kitchen. The Wonton soup is absolutely brilliant. Lots of slow cooked and torn chicken, deliciously marinated Xá Xíu pork and a generous amount of dumplings in a vigorous broth. Despite some of the above nuisances I have never regretted my visits and while it is no Victoria Street experience is is still the best specimem I have found in London so far.