Song Que 1

134 Kingsland Road , London, E2 8DY

SquareMeal Review of Song Que

Song Que is one of the busiest Vietnamese canteens in the ’Ditch. Families & fashionistas overlook the dated decor & harsh lighting, concentrating instead on the house special pho packed with beef in various permutations – rare-sliced steak & well-done flank, or flank & tendon, for example. The menu is long (amounting to more than 170 dishes), yet low on thrills that can’t be found elsewhere on Kingsland Road. Give a wide berth to the dull-seeming Chinese dishes in favour of more vibrant green papaya salad, shredded pork & herbs in rice-paper wrappers, beef in betel leaf, or the noodle soups. As for the tipple of choice, a chilled Halida or Hue beer beats the flasks of Mateus Rosé any day. What Song Que lacks in finesse, it at least compensates for with the bill. A filling bowlful of pho will only set you back £7.70.

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6.7

Food & Drink: 7.3

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 6.4

Value: 7.3

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 3.0

Madison C. bronze reviewer 19 August 2014

Real authentic Vietnamese food in the heart of East London. Kingsland road is flooded with Vietnamese restaurants, however there is one that stands out…literally people are standing outside the door waiting to get in. The menu is like a bible so make sure to order wisely. I would highly recommend the Pho Ga ( Ga meaning chicken) as this is my absolute favourite. The soup is fragrantly perfect, with the right noodle to chicken to broth ratio. Song Que Cafe is a must for any food lover. Word of warning you can't book it so be prepared to wait (the queue goes fast though so don't be put off).

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Jocelyn C. 05 November 2012

Great place for family out dinner with no outrageous bill ahead. Decor, food and service fits the bill. I love their lamb chops and beef soup noodle. The soup broth is one of the best in town!

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 5.0

Vicky O. 26 January 2012

We are local and go regularly to Song Que – it is unbelievably good value for delicious, authenic Vietnamese food. Service can be brusque, but go expecting quick, no nonsense service and deicious food as it is ready you won't be disappointed…

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Grumbling Gourmet platinum reviewer 29 August 2011

A unique skill is needed to be a silver service waiter. The finesse comes with the ability to get plates of elegantly presented food to, and finished plates from, a customer in as organised a fashion as possible. The reveal adds to the art, plates delivered and removed with the bare minimum of fuss and if you ever watch an exponent of the art, he or she can clear your table effortlessly, any detritus at the end of the meal less than a hiccup in their perfect plan for your dining. The team at Song Que would, I suspect, laugh at this description of the role of a waiter. Here there really is only one aim, to get you through as quick as possible to make room for the next party already huddled round the entrance. No reservations taken and no quarter given. Get in, order, eat and get out… A large, high ceilinged space, clean, perfunctory and sparsely decorated with the sort of geometric, clashing, faux leather backed chairs you'd find in an Essex boys dining room in the 80's. There's a large painting on one wall, it might be of a village in Vietnam, local to the owner, it might equally be from nearby Broadway market, the design isn't the point here. There are nods to the ‘proper’ way to do a restaurant, an attempt at an unused back bar for example. A random bottle of Baileys sits on the shelf, disconsolately explaining to a neighbouring dusty Malibu that the vast majority of the punters will be going straight for one of the many different fresh juices, or the imported delights of Hue or Saigon, crisp Vietnamese lagers that cut through the spice to follow. With the service being so speedy, you'll be pleased to know the preparation is very much planned in advance. Of all the dishes Vietnamese cuisine is known for my favourite is the humblest, a bowl of Pho done well has few equals. Light beef stock simmered for hours with a blend of spices including fennel, coriander and star anise before the meats are dumped in at the last minute, bean sprouts and aromatics left to be added tableside. It's the speciality at Song Que, with nearly 30 variants, and after a selection of starters, a keenly priced bowl filled with noodles, that broth, melting thin sliced steak and a scattering of tripe and tendon (worth it, and so soft here) is enough for most people. There's such a depth of flavour in the stock that you're not going to want to season with the obligatory Sriracha hot sauce, but I tend to dip the strips of beef and tripe in to a side pot, but then I'm a chilli hound. Coming back to the starters, a few are worthwhile and interesting, though the Pho really is the thing. (If you want a selection of authentic and delicious Vietnamese starters to build a meal around then nearby Viet Grill is possibly a better option.) We went for their standout grilled beef in betel leaves, the soft and juicy little packages sweetly moreish, fried spring rolls, softshell crab and squid (the latter a little too batter coated for me, though it went swiftly enough). While it's not somewhere for a date, the sight of you licking Pho from your chin is enough to put off all but the most ardent admirers, it's one of the better places for a ribsticking pre or post session bite or a swift lunch along the Kingsland Road.

Food & Drink: 1.0

Service: 0.0

Atmosphere: 1.0

Value: 1.0

Tess G. 08 July 2009

I really did not enjoy dinner here. The service was awful, the food greasy and fatty, and the place needed a good scrub. People talk about this place as if it's the Mecca of Vietnamese, but I completely disagree. I won't be back…

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 5.0

HP gold reviewer 17 December 2008

Contrary to the other review, we had a very good meal at Song Que last night. Having checked out the various Vietnamese options in the Kingsland Road area, we decided to try this on the strength of the reviews and the fact that it was full of diners. We did have to wait 20 minutes for table (overtaken by several bookings) but our order was taken quickly and the assorted starter dish arrived shortly after. This included spring rolls, spare ribs, prawn toasts, crispy seaweed and kept our hunger at bay until the main courses. Rare Steak Pho came steaming and pink, the broth delicately flavoured and a generous bowl of rice vermicelli with bbq pork was incredibly tasty. This certainly rates as one of the best Vietnamese meals we have ever had and at the prices we paid, makes it an incredibly good destination for a delicious budget meal.

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 1.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 2.0

Mr Creosote bronze reviewer 29 November 2008

Another mediocre meal at Song Que, which somehow gets the best reviews of any of the Vietnamese restaurants on Kingsland Road. Starters were very good – including excellent salt and pepper squid – but served in portions so large we were full before our main courses arrived. Just as well, as these were the sort of clumsily thrown-together stir-fries students learn to make as their first attempt to cook for themselves. Brusque staff were keen to take our order as quickly as possible, then the usual problem: when you want to pay the bill and leave quickly, there's no one around to help. Toilets reached via what looks like a disused party space in the basement add to the dispiriting feel of it all.

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Song Que is included in the following SquareMeal lists