Mien Tay – cheap n cheerful

*Update 2013* (pending)
This restaurant is hit and miss but worth a try. I ate here in August 2013 (2.5 years since the last time) and it was nowhere near as good as on previous occasions in 2011. Squid was disgustingly chewy and rubbery (so badly over cooked), service was terrible (some people walked out in the queue in front of us – though everyone in queue had booked a table), and sitting downstairs was totally unappealing on this hot summer’s eve….basement toilet problems? (full update pending. LardButty review is 3 / 5 in 2013). It’s no longer BYOB but the wine selection is good and very reasonably priced. Good but not that good.



Lardbutty Vietnamese restaurant of the decade
IMG00779-20110216-2029b_mien_tay
Crispy sea bream with lemongrass and chilli @ £9.50

Ok, it’s the first Vietnamese restaurant I’ve been to, and I do intend to go to Vietnam so this may be a little hasty and subject to change (given it’s the start of the decade) but Mien Tay in Battersea is seriously good.

My Wednesday evening pilates class isn’t on this week due to the half-term holiday, so a couple of us decided to stretch our stomachs in a different way… by visiting a local Vietnamese restaurant instead.

We turned up to a packed restaurant at 7:30pm having booked a table for two well in advance. We were tagged on to the end of a table for four (proximity of Wagamama’s benches) but it wasn’t uncomfortable. Despite being busy and with a good buzz of noise, there was still a good level of privacy (good accoustics – I didn’t hear a word of our neighbours’ conversation).

But less of the buzz and more of the food.

It’s unbelievably cheap: £8-odd for a bottle of pinot grigio or £2-odd for a glass was the first thing that jumped out at me from the menu. While they do have a license to serve alcohol, you can – at the moment – bring your own bottle (surprisingly no corkage fee either, although they say this bonus will be discontinued at some point).

This is not an expensive restaurant, so I was prepared for it to be cheap, cheerful and perhaps slightly sub-standard. Not so.

For starters we shared:
~ chicken satay @ £6 (intensely nutty sauce, excellent)
~ salt and peppered squid @ £6.00 (in a light, crispy batter – no grease in sight)
~ chargrilled prawn wrapped around sugar-cane @ £6.00 (fabulous – the sugar-cane wasn’t sweet as you might expect, I’ll home in on this next time)

IMG00777-20110216-1948b_prawn_on_cane
Chargrilled prawn wrapped around sugarcane, starter @ £6.00

IMG00778-20110216-1948b_chickensatay
chicken satay starter @ £6.00

IMG00780-20110216-2029b_MienTay_currypot
Vietnamese prawn curry served in a clay pot @ £8.00 – who knew curry could have such depth of flavour?

IMG00822-20110305-2047b_sideveggies
side vegetables

For our main courses we had prawn curry in a clay pot and sea bream, both with steamed rice and a side of mixed vegetables (including bok choy, mushrooms, etc) which were exceptional.

As for the sea bream @ £9.50, I was probably expecting a filleted portion not the entire fish at that price (see top). I’ve had something similar at one of Rick Stein’s restaurants in Padstow at more than double the price and it was in no way better than this.

Mien Tay is one of the best restaurants in the Lavender Hill area (along with Nancy Lam’s Enak Enak and Santa Maria del Sur, if somewhat more down-to-earth in style). We ate leisurely noticing that the turnover of other tables was fairly speedy. It’s cash only and you do need to book in advance. Go on – call 020 7350 0721.


**UPDATE**

I visited Mien Tay Battersea again, Saturday night, 5th March 2011. Again, it was very busy with a swift turnover of tables, good service and food was simply brilliant.

IMG00819-20110305-2033b_duck
1/4 crispy aromatic duck with hoi sin sauce and pancakes @ £7.00

IMG00820-20110305-2033b_tofu
tofu starter – too much garlic and coriander

IMG00821-20110305-2047b_goat
goat with galangal

This was my first time eating goat. I expected it to be similar to sheep (lamb/ mutton) but it was more like beef and absolutely gorgeous too in a slightly creamy, nutty, curry sauce.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5 (2011); 3 / 5 (2013)
~ Type: Vietnamese
~ Address: 180 Lavender Hill, Battersea, London
~ Postcode: SW11 5TQ
~ Tel: 020 7350 0721
~ Nearest train station: Clapham Junction
~ Website + menus: Mien Tay Battersea website
~ Location: Mien Tay Battersea map

Mien Tay on Urbanspoon

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3 Responses

  1. […] said, the last time I had sea bream was at Mien Tay and it was spicy and… just supreme, which probably set a high […]

  2. […] But it’s nothing amazing and is not in the same league as Mien Tay. […]

  3. […] Hill is fierce: there are many popular, established restaurants like Nancy Lam’s Enak Enak, Mien Tay, Donna Margherita, Ukai and Amazing Thai and all too many that open and then close within a couple […]

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