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122 Kingsland Road
Since opening in 2008, this original branch of Mien Tay (with a younger sibling in Battersea) has moved a notch upmarket and expanded into premises next door, yet it still draws crowds of diners on Kingsland Road’s Pho Mile with its first-rate south-western Vietnamese food. The interior design of white walls and kitsch Vietnamese artwork may not inspire, but it’s what comes on the plate that counts. Must-tries include the peppy starter of salt, pepper and garlic squid, and the flavour-packed honey and spices char-grilled chicken. Adventurous diners will have a field day, leaping from the brace of frog’s leg dishes to the likes of stewed Mekong catfish, or stir-fried goat with galangal. Prices, though still inexpensive, are no longer ridiculously cheap, and the former BYOB policy has given way to a wine list chosen by Willie Lebus of Bibendum. Try some Chilean Valdivieso Maipo Merlot with that goat.
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Cheap eats in London
122 Kingsland Road
020 7729 3074
Old Street Station 850m
Shoreditch Tube Station 945m
Rosemary Branch Theatre & Public House 1km
Brick Lane 1km
Mon-Sun 12N-11pm (Sun -10pm)
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 4
Another favourite of mine. Mien Tay is one of the best Vietnamese places i've been to so far. really lovely food – the clay pot curry is great, especially with tofu and I love the chicken with lemon grass and chilli. Service can be a bit brusk sometimes, but that's probably because there is normally a huge queue of people waiting to take your table.
I have been to this restaurant very often over the last year to the point that most of the staff recognise me even though its very busy.
My reviews try to be helpful and give a true vision of what the restaurant and diners are like. For a start, this is a casual place with no suits or ties. Most people are 20s and 30s and friends rather than partners. There is virtually no grey hair to be seen! But anyone would be welcomed. Be aware that everyone eating there seems comfortable using chopsticks so buy some and practice before you go, its all part of the fun!
Next, it is very busy! You may well have to wait to be seated and they dont seem to have an operating booking system! I have waited for an hour on a Saturday evening!
Now the food! The menue is long and although numbered, the numbers are different in different versions of the menu. You cannot order by number either! You can order in Vietnamese or as most do in English which is written down on the order pad in Vietnamese. Its pretty chaotic and starters dont always come before main dishes! As soon as its cooked it is brought to the table, you soon get used to this and begin to like it as it ensures its fresh. Much of the fun is to pick at each dish in turn rather than have them all together.
Most starters are £4-£6 each and main courses £5-£9 each. There is little difference between starter and mains in terms of size so a tip is to choose what you want for each regardless of where its placed in the menu.
The decor and tables are rather cheap and tatty, its not why you are there. You go for freshly cooked food with a wide variety of dishes amid a very noisy and lively crowd of people. You could imagine that many are students although I doubt many actually are!
The staff are young, Vietnamese and mostly speak little English but are friendly and that makes up for everything. Seriously thin girls but thats good as there is little space to move around! The Owner lady will chat in French. The service is usually quick but rushed so be aware of that. You accept that the place is not the Ritz and the service seems more personal and friendly with genuine smiles!
I hope this review will be useful and give you a good idea of what its like. If you have any comments or questions search on Google for my name and “reviews”!
PS The final word and this may not be good news! During March 2011 they put their alcohol Licence application Notice on the door. When thats granted shortly we wil have to see what their policy is but normally thats an end to their BYOB policy. If thats the case then I have to say I will be visiting less often, sorry!
Food + drink: 3
I regularly visit the Lavender Hill branch so when I found myself nearby the Kingsland road branch, I decided to pop in and see if they were as good as my local. This is the branch that was a contender of ‘Best local restaurant’ for Gordon Ramsay's F-Word back in Dec '09 / Jan '10.
The menu is exactly the same as the other branch, so its quite easy to navigate your way around it. I still CANNOT live without the wonderfully, crispy, nutty, meaty ‘Mien Tay’ spring rolls that really are my absolute favourite thing on the menu, they are delicious. The dried spicy beef and green papaya was also great but we ordered the Claypot prawn curry dish and also the lemongrass and chilli beef and although they were delicious and the abundant with beef and giant prawns, there was just too much turmeric in both dishes. If you are heavy handed with turmeric, it can be a tad harsh but both dishes were still packed with flavour and very satisfying.
The restaurant itself is a bit tacky… Odd clear table tops that house a small square of plastic grass (I kid you not) could do with proper wipe or even better, be disposed of completely. The staircase leading to the loos is a bit unsavoury with plastic matting stapled to the stairs and not in the best condition, but the loos are perfectly nice.
I would have to say, i still prefer my local branch of Mien Tay, where In my opinion, you can have some of the best Vietnamese food outside of Vietnam.
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