Café VN isn’t a groundbreaking Vietnamese café, but then it doesn’t pretend to be. A small menu of Vietnamese noodles (both pho, the national dish of soup noodles, and bun, ‘dry’ rice noodles served with a piquant nuoc cham dressing), side dishes and salads offers nothing out of the ordinary. The space is small but well lit; despite overlooking nothing but the dreary Clerkenwell Road, lime-green café furniture and kind, on-the-ball staff gives the place a cheerful feel.
The bun noodles with sliced marinated pork is the best of the lot; unlike in most restaurants, proper chewy, thick noodles are used instead of thin rice vermicelli. Pickled carrots and daikon, lettuce, cucumbers and crisp fried shallots complete the dish with contrasting textures and refreshing flavours. The ‘VN special’ pho (beef brisket, chicken breast, king prawn) pales in comparison, with slightly undercooked noodles and one-dimensional salty broth. The green papaya and mango salad was bulked out by shredded lettuce, but had a clean flavour, although it was a bit on the sweet side.
It’s a good enough option for lunch, especially if you order a chilled, creamy ca phe sua da (iced Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk) alongside. Unfortunately we spotted too late that sinh to bo (avocado smoothie) was on the menu. It’s a drink big in Vietnam, and in Vietnamese institutions around Australia and in the US, but not at all common around these parts. One for next time, then.
|Venue name:||Café VN||Contact:|
144 Clerkenwell Road
|Opening hours:||Open 8am-11pm Mon-Fri; noon-10pm Sat, Sun|
|Transport:||Tube: Farringdon tube/rail or bus 55, 243|
|Price:||Meal for two with drinks and service: around £30|
|Do you own this business?|
Average User Rating
5 / 5
- 5 star:3
- 4 star:0
- 3 star:0
- 2 star:0
- 1 star:0
We ate there last night using the groupon voucher, fabulous service, and the food was divine, cannot wait to go again.
I adore this place for what it is. I used to work close to Cafe VN and frequently went there for lunch. Staff made me feel welcome every time and after a couple of visits they knew exactly what I was going to order. The food is beautiful in its simplicity and portions are generous. Their whole menu comfortably sits on two A5 pages, yet offers something for everyone. No agonising over 10 kinds of rice there. I no longer work or live in the area, but my husband and I will still be getting our treat takeaways from this place. It is worth a drive for us. By the way, never mind 3 stars rating. Today I had one of the worst meals ever from a 'restaurant' on Kingsland Road that is currently boasting 5 stars in spite of some terrible customer reviews. Fair? I struggle to see how it can be.
great pho. yes, the pho will not taste exactly like the one you might get in asia, mainly because they use much better meat at VN (nothint to complain about really), but it's a great way of tucking in when the weather is miserable, as it is in London...