I'm a London-dwelling northern lass who swapped the East End for Far East on the trip of a lifetime. I blog about food, travel, yoga and spirituality. www.sophiesnotinkansas.com
Published January 26th 2013
The Best Vietnamese in Hackers
East London's Hackney is home to approximately 5,000 Vietnamese residents due to the arrival of migrants in the 70s. There are a number of shops, nails bars, supermarkets and hairdressers owned by local Vietnamese business people.
Although not as densely populated as Hoxton's Kingsland Road area, Hackney's Mare Street is home to a fair few Vietnamese restaurants which are cheap and sell incredibly tasty, authentic Vietnamese cuisine.
I've only just got back to the UK after a year away and I wanted to take my boyfriend to Tre Viet, my favourite Hackney Vietnamese, for his first visit. The restaurant used to be a bit grimier but it looks like it has been under new management and they have cleaned it up a bit since I was last there. On the one hand this was good because it meant better, more professional service. On the down side, prices had gone up and the menu was less extensive than it used to be, having progressed from offering practically every Vietnamese dish under the sun to a more refined selection. But the portions were still generously sized and it appeared to me that more care than usual had been taken with presentation.
Tre Viet also used to operate a BYOB (bring your own bottle) policy but when we enquired about this it was going to cost a whacking £2.50 per person. Not worth it, we concluded, and opted for a bottle of Saigon beer each instead.
We started with a fresh and delicious (if not a little sweet) mango salad and some divine fresh spring rolls. We then moved onto one of Tre Viet's specials and an old favourite of mine - chill squid, which is served with a delicious garnish of fresh chill and spring onion. The waiters were happy to oblige me when I asked for a fish sauce dipping accompaniment.
By the time the main course of monkfish in chilli and lemongrass arrived I was nearly so full I couldn't eat it. But the fish was cooked to perfection - tender and succulent. I couldn't resist and dived in. Ian - a food blogger and writer - was also impressed, so it must have been good!