Reviewed by The Wild Boar
After watching Alice in Wonderland, we decided to make the short trip to Café East. Located next to Odeon cinemas in Surrey Quays, this was a nearby convenient choice, helped in no small part by various friends and family who commented this restaurant was as good as any on Kingsland Road.
Our party of six had to wait near half an hour before we had a table as despite the high turnover rate, there is no booking system; you come in, take a ticket, and wait till you’re called.
For drinks the PigPig had a fresh soya bean whilst I had a something-whose-name-I-forgot-but-resembled-lo-hon-kor (traditional Chinese herbal drink). I quite liked this sweet drink especially as it reminded me of my childhood. A friend also ordered a coconut drink which we spent a good 10 minutes debating its origin; we think it was canned.
1) Banh Cuon – Vietnamese style rolls filled with mushrooms and minced pork with a mild fish sauce. A favourite of one of our party, this was decent but nothing fantastic for me.
2) Cha Hue – labelled “deep fried Viet meat loaf” on the menu, I thought this was just like a fish cake albeit it had a slightly meatier texture and taste to it.
3) Goi Cuon – a typical “Summer Roll” containing the standard assortment of prawn, salad and vermicelli noodles. More than decent, but nothing special.
7) Pho Tai – half the table chose this typical favourite of rare beef strips with flat rice noodles (hor fun). As it was a bitingly cold evening, everyone chose the spicy soup so unfortunately I can only comment on this soup base, which both me and the PigPig found quite hearty and tasty but slightly lighter in spice aroma.
19) Bun Cha Nem Thit Nuong – essentially a bowl of vermicelli noodles topped with lots of fresh cucumbers and lettuce, julienned pickled carrots and turnip, fried spring rolls and a really awesome fried lemongrass pork doused with as much sauce (a mild fish sauce) as you want. This is my first time eating this (I normally order pho) so I can’t compare, but I liked the mix between the tangy pickled vege with the salty aromatic pork.
*the numbers in front of the names represent the dish number on the menu.
Altogether, the bill came up to £12 each and we were all stuffed to the brim (didn’t stop me from desiring some Hummingbird red velvet cake after a while for dessert though).
Overall the food was pretty good, although perhaps not quite as tasty as Song Que. Also the menu is quite limited, having just a few choices for starters and some pho, bun and rice dishes only (maybe I’m just moaning because I was hankering for some Viet pancake). It all felt a bit fast-food as well and this is probably reflected in its very affordable pricing.
Best bit: my lo hon kor drink.
Worst bit: waiting 30 minutes in a cramped waiting area.
100 Redriff Road
Rotherhithe, SE16 7LH
Tel: +44(020) 8691 7777