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Khoai Cafe

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by Alan Perkins (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer, editor and teacher based in north London.
Published August 26th 2012
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As more and more people are waking up to the delights of Vietnamese cooking, the popularity of this wonderful café increases. It is fairly small, limiting space and creating a buzz on pretty much any night of the week. The staff are overtly friendly, in a softly spoken, charming kind of way. The food is always fresh and is frequently, happily delicious.

By focusing on ingredients and just the right amount of seasoning, Khoai's creates dishes that are both aromatic and satisfying. I particularly enjoy the crab soup, which is thick and wholesome, tasting meaty, yet distinctly of the sea. However, if this is your first visit, maybe you should try the traditional spring rolls, a dish synonymous with the region.

For mains, you are spoiled for choice, with the menu focusing on beef, minced pork and seafood, bringing an authentic slice of the Land of the Blue Dragon to north London. By this stage of the evening I had sampled all the Vietnamese beers and rate them in the following order; Saigon, Hanoi, Hue. Each to their own, though. Feel free to disagree.

If you are lucky enough to visit in the summer months, I can also confirm that the salads are to die for. They are spiced and fruity in a way that puts European salads to shame. There's no limp lettuce in warm mayonnaise here.

The traditional Goi salad is hearty, with the additional peanuts proving a substantial crunch. In short, the food here is nourishing, soulful and packed full of flavour. This place would be perfect for anyone looking for a reasonably priced meal out and a change from Chinese or Thai restaurants. I've had many quiet nights out here and thoroughly recommend it to anyone.
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Why? Khoai's creates dishes that are both aromatic and satisfying.
Phone: 020 8341 2120
Where: 8 Topsfield Parade N8 8PR
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