The original branch on Kingsland Road sent the food community into a lather when it first opened; Mien Tay’s fresh approach to Vietnamese cooking clearly struck a chord among those jaded by the near-identical menus along ‘pho mile’, offering as it did the sweeter, more delicate flavours of south-western Vietnam.
Chargrilled quail lightly brushed with honey is a signature dish: all smokiness and spice and deep, gamey flavours. Another highlight is deep-fried sea bream, free of oiliness and served whole under tart slivers of mango and splashes of sour-salty-sweet nuoc cham. These classics are executed with equal aplomb at this newer Lavender Hill outpost. We’d also say that the pho here is marginally better, with an astounding balance of complexity and clarity in the beef broth; bouncy beef balls are a recommended addition.
The restaurant is never going to win accolades for outstanding decor – it’s the usual plain furniture and paper tablecloths, with colour added by way of cheesy plastic vines and flowers curled around the edge of the ceiling. Service is as hospitable as you might expect in a family-run joint.