Cây Tre

Critics' choice
© Tom Baker
Old Street

Cây Tre’s longstanding popularity is partly thanks to its location: easier to stumble upon for the non-local than nearby Kingsland Road’s Vietnamese cluster. Its crayon box-like signage catches the eye too, and suits the neighbourhood’s peacockish outlook. Inside, the scars of revelry are plain to see: the wallpaper, busy with swirling Japanese imagery of dragons and warriors, is scuffed, splattered and even burnt.

The menu is brief for a budget Vietnamese, and scattered with the unexpected: ‘anchovied chicken wings’, ‘Indochine lamb’, ‘Cornish’ scallops and ‘Somerset’ pork. But a beef ‘carpaccio’ couldn’t have tasted more Vietnamese: just-so tangy, and alive with diverse herbs and chillies (albeit served tepid). The backbone of a banana leaf-roasted mackerel was flicked out expertly by our server at table. Its flesh was pleasingly robust, contrasting with the soft, granular ‘marinade’ of galangal and lemongrass. A huge side dish of water spinach was excellent – firm stem, sloppy leaf and soft garlic – as was a squid and green mango salad. The view out of the window (a solicitor’s and a stationer’s) will hardly distract from Cây Tre’s enduringly good eating.

Cây Tre's Soho branch is a bit more glamorous: a small fortune has been spent on the interior design, to good effect: it looks modern, spacious, airy.

Venue name: Cây Tre
Address: 301 Old Street
Opening hours: Lunch served noon-3pm Mon-Sat. Dinner served 5.30-11pm Mon-Thur; 5.30-11.30pm Fri, Sat. Meals served noon-10.30pm Sun
Transport: Tube: Old Street tube/rail or bus 55, 243
Price: Main courses £5-£9. Set dinner £20 per person (minimum 2) 2 courses
1 person listening

The food was really plain and the service was really poor. We booked a table but had to wait half an hour to get the table. The staff didn't really care about it. Once we finished they immediately brought us our bill. We didn't feel welcome at all.


Food is nothing special. And service is very poor. They just want to kick you out to make space for other poor (and not well-informed) people queuing outside to get a table. Awful experience.


We had our table booked for 8 people, however 2 of them were late and we were constantly rushed and reminded that those two places will be taken away if they don't show up now. Eventually we had to leave due to the staff being incredibly rude and impatient. I understand it was busy evening but this is unacceptable. Can not rate food as we did not even get to try..So if you want a relaxed environment for your diner this would be the last place to go..

Jean Perrochon

Enjoyed my take away of Pho and deep fried tofu with chili and lemongrass, although the latter could have done with a little more lemongrass. Portions were generous, service was efficient and prices about right.


Excellent variety of food. The scallops and monkfish with dill were fantastic. On the negative side, the wine is overpriced, the place is very noisy, and the waiters are keen to move you on.