It may have a reputation for being cooler-than-thou, but Shoreditch is home to food options to suit all walks of life with all sizes of wallet. Pick up a gourmet hot dog from Big Apple's street cart, gorge on Vietnamese along Kingsland Road or try an Antipodean-inspired café such as Ozone; they'll all leave you with pennies to spare. Got a favourite spot that's not on the list? Let us know in the comments box below or tweet your suggestions.
This is still the undoubted star of the Kingsland Road Vietnamese scene. Big, light, airy, buzzy (if slightly resembling a school canteen), Song Que is constantly packed with happy customers including many families and a good showing of Vietnamese locals. There’s usually a warm welcome from one of the many staff, who deliver prompt, efficient and friendly service. Food is almost always first class and highly authentic – and good value.
Bánh mì believers and voracious enthusiasts of Vietnamese food have been delighted by the opening of this small and pretty deli and café, operated by the team behind Cay Tre (across the road) and Viet Grill (on nearby Kingsland Road). We were excited too, being fans of the two earlier restaurants; we keep returning to them for their good, modern interpretations of Vietnamese classics and manage to ignore the indifferent service in both branches.
Much derided for its rather unimpressive, run-down façade and pretty shabby, paint-peeling decor (which could all be remedied fairly quickly and cheaply), Mien Tay is nevertheless a great place to get authentic, top-notch food. The two-roomed interior is cramped, and filled with staff who seem to do lots of unnecessary wandering up and down. As for the food, stir-fried green mussels with ginger and spring onion was a delight: plump and tasty mussels, perfectly cooked à point, with a sauce that was spot-on. Scallops with black bean sauce were equally brilliant; the chef here obviously has a way with seafood.
Given that Open Kitchen is the restaurant where students from the London City Hospitality Centre (part of Hackney Community College) practise their skills on paying punters, you’d be forgiven for allowing it a bit of leeway with standards. However, our recent meal here was very good, and the prices are irresistable – starters £3.50, mains £6, desserts £3. We enjoyed crisp fishcakes with a chilli-laced chutney-style dip and then roast beef with trimmings. Service was personable and willing, there’s a good wine list and the space itself, which benefited from a recent refurbishment, is bright, airy and contemporary.
This tiny takeaway kitchen (just a couple of counter seats) serves pizza plus a few Sardinian specialities – spaghetti bottarga (mullet roe), crespelle Due Sardi (ricotta and spinach pancakes) – to the barflies of the cool, dressed-down bar next door, Dreambagsjaguarshoes, between noon and 10pm. Slightly sour, chewy dough provides great contrast to intensely tomatoey passata in the margherita, and we were pleased to taste the finely chopped basil before we saw it– a scatter of whole leaves on top may look fresh and fancy, but they don’t always combine properly with the flavours beneath.