Despite a recent increase in affordable restaurants in the British/European sector, finding a good one still requires careful research if one is to avoid microwaved hunter’s chicken and char-burnt steaks. Fortunately, the opposite has always been true with Asian restaurants. Whether it’s Indian, Thai or otherwise the best Asian food is consistently being served in the plethora of unassuming joints in the back streets of London for prices that would embarrass Pizza Express on a ‘50% off’ day.
Mien Tay is the latest to no-frills restaurant to join the list. Just 18 months after the immensely successful launch of their first restaurant in Shoreditch, Mien Tay has brought their Southern Vietnamese style of cooking to Lavender Hill. We visited the latter recently. The restaurant is simple and comfortable, but you don’t come here to admire the view. The informal family-run restaurant prides itself on delicious food and keen prices and it certainly doesn’t disappoint.
Looking through the dizzying large menu, it’s clear that finding a reasonable number of dishes you want to eat is going to prove impossible, so we pretty much left it to the friendly staff to pick our meal.
An ordinary sounding Papaya salad was a combination of dried strips of beef, crushed fried peanuts and papaya which merged to provide an immensely moreish combination of flavours. Even better was to come with a genuinely finger-licking good grilled spatchcocked quail marinated in a stunning honey, garlic and lightly spiced blend; at just £4.50, this is one of London’s most affordable luxuries. Similar well executed was the Salt, pepper & garlic squid coated in the lightest batter.
Not so successful was greasy Soft shell crab and Minced beef wrapped in overwhelming betal leaves. Then again, at these prices one can afford to experiment, so no loss. The meal came back on track with our mains. Stir-fried goat with galangal was a big, flavoursome dish which, at the risk of sounding clichéd, really did transport us to the street markets of Asia. Chargrilled chicken with lemon leaf was a far more delicate dish, but no less delicious for it, whilst the Special fried rice was beautifully spiced, full of quality pieces of meat and almost worthy of being a dish on its own.
Cuisine type: Vietnamese
Dinner for two (excluding drinks): £28
Drinks: Bring your own (although they also have a limited selection of booze available)
180 Lavender Hill
Battersea, SW11 5TQ
Tel: 0207 350 0721
122 Kingsland Road
Shoreditch, E2 8DP
Tel: 0207 729 3074