Cây Tre, a Vietnamese café on Dean Street, Soho, is a weird and wonderful experience.
The decor is somewhat reminiscent of a classy eel and pie shop with its white tiled walls and fairly basic chairs and tables. It’s a long, narrow restaurant so even when it’s not packed it feels busy, as customers and waiters have to shuffle past you in the narrow gangway between tables.
It’s just the kind of place to go for a quick meal during a mid-afternoon shopping spree but probably not somewhere to go for a long, cosy, get-settled-in type of evening meal.
We popped in while Christmas shopping recently. Our waitress helped us with the menu and we chose a few dishes to share.
My favourite was the Chaû caù Laõ Voïng or La Vong grilled monkfish marinated with galangal and turmeric, cooked at the table, and served with a Vietnamese dipping sauce (nuoc cham). K wasn’t a fan of all the feathery green vegetation swamping the monkfish but I really enjoyed it, with its refreshing, crisp and cleansing (something Alpine-like?) taste.
There’s a surprisingly impressive selection of drinks too: I had a glass of prosecco @ £6 while K had a St Mungo beer @ £4.50 (really lovely, malty beer brewed in Glasgow by independent brewery, WEST, the first UK brewery to produce its beers in accordance with the Reinheitsgebot, or the ‘German Purity Law’ using four core ingredients only: water, malt, hops and yeast, and no artificial additives, colouring or preservatives).
I’m not sure which part of ‘simmered fish caramelised in anchovy fish sauce’ initially appealed to us but the Mekong Catfish was fishy fish overdose. Squared.
Vietnamese dishes, l to r:
~ Caù kho toä – Claypot simmered Mekong Catfish caramelised in anchovy fish sauce @ £10
~ Kim chi – with pickled ginger, side veg dish @ £4.50
~ Toâm xaøo su su – Red Sea Prawns with Choucho stir-fried with oyster sauce, black pepper + Vietnamese herbs @ £11
All in all, an interesting and different experience – I particularly enjoyed having the monkfish cooked right in front of us on our table and served straight from the pan. And trying new vegetables – flavours that I couldn’t previously have dreamed up (like the cucumbery ‘choucho’ served with prawns).
But it’s nothing amazing and it’s not in the same league as Mien Tay.
~ Lardbutty rating: 3 / 5
~ Type: Vietnamese
~ Address: 43 Dean Street, Soho, London
~ Postcode: W1D 4QD
~ Tel: 020 7317 9118
~ Nearest tube station: Oxford Circus, Leicester Square, Piccadilly
~ Website: Cây Tre Soho website
Menu: Cây Tre menu
~ Location: Cây Tre Soho map
Filed under: LardButty food / restaurant reviews, Vietnamese Tagged: | 3 / 5, 3/5, Cây Tre, Cây Tre Soho, Dean Street, German Purity Law, Lardbutty, Leicester Square, London, Oxford Circus, Reinheitsgebot, Soho, St Mungo, Vietnamese, W1, W1D, W1D 4QD, West brewery