Yes. Cay Tre, THE Cay Tre, has come to Soho.
You need to understand. Cay Tre is my favourite Vietnamese restaurant in London (the original is near Kingsland Road in Shoreditch). I live in Soho. Now Cay Tre is in Soho. I can officially start using my oven for storage.
Ok, so I was there on opening night, at the 50% soft opening. Service is still being polished (although they're sweet). But the food, oh the food. The food is superb.
A starter of Chef's Vinh Beef (skewered five spice rib beef, moist and succulent, charcoaled and served with soy dipping sauce) was perfection. PERFECTION, I tell you. And it's opening night! Silky grilled octopus with lemongrass, coriander and chilli oil is slightly chewy (I'd give it a miss next time), but the Cha La Lot is gorgeous - spicy ground pork wrapped in wild betel leaves, served with roast peanuts and nuoc cham.
|Cured beef and papaya salad|
Thinly sliced sesame cured beef and papaya salad with Thai basil and mint is one of the favourites, and the asparagus in the asparagus and black mushroom salad is packed with seasonal flavour and maintaining just that right amount of firm bite.
Slow cooked mekong catfish is caramelised in fish sauce and almost as good as at the original Shoreditch branch, lacking only in the theatre of having it cooked at the table like it is at the original.
Roast baby chicken royale is crunchy and spicy on the outside and moist within - although it's a lean chicken, the honey, five spice and herby marinade give the meat some punch. Cognac Luc Luc Shaking beef is another hit - sliced rib eye beef is wok seared with whole garlic cloves (mmm...) and black pepper. It's lusciously rich but light at the same time.
|Cognac Luc Luc Shaking Beef|
The Dong Du Lamb Chop Curry served with vermicilli dumplings certainly has the anticipated flavour but is too fatty (yes, even for me). The okra and aubergine curry is a satisfyingly gooey mix of coconut and cardamom.
|Okra and auberine curry|
There's also rice, noodle and pho dishes which I will be back for, oh, probably 3 times a week. The menu has some surprises and is different to that at the original Shoreditch branch.
With 3 bottles of wine and a huge array of dishes between 5, our bill came to £40 per head (or £20 per head during the 50% off soft opening period). Starters cost between £4 - £9.50 and mains between £7 - £10, so obviously you could feast for a lot less without so much alcohol (ahem).
My only complaint? There's no dessert menu! (But Princi is around the corner).
Great value, fresh flavours, easy going service and all in Zone 1 - don't even try to wipe the smile from my face.
Cay Tre, 44 Dean Street, Soho, London W1D 4 QD (Tel: 020 7317 9118)
The 50% off soft opening continues for Wednesday 11 and Thursday 12 May 2011.