Please note, Khoai Café is now closed. Time Out Food & Drink editors, Jan 2016.
In an area lacking culinary excitement, Khoai Café is a reliable and useful local. Behind its strident green frontage is a spacious, modern and spotless restaurant with shiny tiled floor, blond wood furniture and soothing pale walls in buttermilk and toffee tones. Over several years, we’ve enjoyed decent meals and takeaways here – and at the Crouch End original – but the kitchen wasn’t firing on all wok burners during our latest visit. A few things we ordered (bo la lot, Saigon beer) were unavailable, and greasy prawn toast arrived at the table instead of prawn satay. Cooking lacked verve too: morning glory was stir-fried with garlic and oyster sauce to an unappealing grey-green colour; chewy white fish arrived in a gloopy caramel sauce; and Vietnamese cuisine’s enticing array of sparky herbs seemed limited to coriander and mint. Still, service was courteous and accommodating as usual, and we revelled in a turmeric-yellow crispy golden crêpe generously studded with large prawns and slices of delicious barbecue pork. Hue and Hanoi lagers are perfectly acceptable alternatives to Saigon; there’s also a reasonable choice of inexpensive wines, plus intensely sweet own-made lemonade for those wanting to skip the booze.