Song Que

  • Restaurants
  • Vietnamese
Critics' choice
7 Love It
Rob Greig / Time Out
Rob Greig / Time Out
Rob Greig / Time Out
Rob Greig / Time Out
Rob Greig / Time Out
Rob Greig / Time Out
Rob Greig / Time Out

Friends of pho make a beeline for the excellent Vietnamese noodle soups here – always on song at Song Que.

This is still the 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. Flavours are full and true, and textures perfect, bringing the best out of each dish.

Acolytes state that the kitchen makes the best pho in London, which is quite a claim, but the version served here is certainly excellent. Our assorted starters were excellent too, including a skilfully executed cross between a prawn toast and a banh mi: what seemed like a butterflied whole king prawn on a baguette slice beneath the minced prawn mixture – a real texture treat.

We experienced just two minor negatives: not automatically getting a change of paper table covering, and having to troop across the room to the cash desk to pay by card. Still, it will be the excellent food that lingers in the memory.


Venue name: Song Que
Address: 134 Kingsland Road
E2 8DY
Opening hours: Lunch served noon-3pm, dinner served 5.30-11pm Mon-Fri. Meals served noon-11pm Sat; noon-10.30pm Sun
Transport: Tube: Hoxton rail
Price: Main courses £4.80-£11.80

Average User Rating

2 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:6
  • 4 star:7
  • 3 star:3
  • 2 star:12
  • 1 star:34
1 person listening
2 of 2 found helpful

Was there last Friday and cannot understand why TimeOut gave this black hole of Hanoi a 5 star review. The waiters were rude, completely oblivious to what was happening around them and one served us dishes of which he didn't know what they were. During the whole time we were there we were treated with the lovely sewage smell of east london. The staff then decided to gas their customers with cheap air refreshener. If you wish to visit this restaurant, I suggest you watch a prison movie first. The way prisoners are served their food and made to eat it resembles the atmosphere of this restaurant. The guy who was in charge of the floor could have easily gotten a role as a sadistic prison guard in a movie. He didn't take any orders but was happy to remind you (in an unpleasant way) of how many minutes you had left to eat whatever grub they served you (and the food was dull grub) Also it would help if they mopped the floor before they opened. We were one of the first diners that evening and the floor was already sticky and dirty. Imagine how their kitchen will be. All in all, an abandoned McDonald's infested with rats has more atmosphere, better food and better staff than this "restaurant".

Nina C
1 of 1 found helpful

I really don't understand how this restaurant is considered "one of the best". The food is consisently terrible, some of the worst vietnamese you can have on Kingsland, it smells like toilets and trash and the service is poor. Just opt for ANY of its neighbours, my favourite being Mien Tay right next door.

Luisa G

I've been here a few times, and the food is always delicious. There's a reason that it's the busiest Vietnamese out of a street of Vietnamese restaurants, and it is often full of people from Vietnam. The waiters, overall, are absolutely awful, slow, and often don't understand simple requests. The Vietnamese spring rolls are delicious. 


Has this place fallen under new ownership? I simply don't understand how Timeout could be so off the mark with this one. Those are lovely pictures above and I'd love to know where they were taken but certainly not recently at Song Que. The food was truly awful. I would like to be more specific about which dishes were passable and which to avoid but it was very difficult to distinguish between them as all were rather bland and thus tasted alike. Was a real shame to see such a beautiful cuisine destroyed in this fashion. I can only commend them for creating a hype when none should exist. Bravo. 

Mike H

It is pretty hard to comprehend how this restaurant managed to get to the top list of cheap eats in London. Leaving aside any competition elsewhere, there are several other Vietnamese restaurants along Kingsland road that are within the same price range and deliver twice the quality...

The food is neither authentic nor delicious, and I don't directly know anyone who ever rates this place highly.

Lee S


Average at best. There are much better options along Kingsland Road that I'd rather go to.

Nick W

Why this place is so highly rated is beyond me. Normally I would only give a restaurant one chance. Something as simple as brisket soup was full of chewy fat and gristle. Almost inedible. I thought that they were having an off day. They weren't. I tried it a second time and my soup was the same. The Vietnamese 'Mecca' is moving to Mare Street. I suggest you move with it.

Alexandra V

Having recently returned from living in Australia with an appreciation for good pho I was keen to try out song que cafe to see if london's Vietnamese food could live up to what I had been eating in Sydney. I never go to most types of Asian restaurants expecting good service, bad service is normally part of the overall experience however I do need something to drink and not only did our tea not arrive but two requests for water ignored with desperation forcing my friend to go to the bar herself and practically poor her own drink. The rice paper rolls were quite standard to good, I then had the beef pho as this is what I had been craving all day. Unfortunately there was very little depth to the broth and the noodles were not as tasty as other pho's I have tried, it was not a terrible dish but I definitely would not be returning for more. I am disappointed in Time Out for giving this place such a high review, clearly users think otherwise and there are more deserving restaurants in the area worthy of the praise.

terry f

Slight smell of sewage on entering. Bad food and bad service. Sub standard food thrown to whom was nearest to the waiter. On exiting the restaurant found a dead rest in rear alley/driveway.


Hmmm Food is okay. Staff well so so. But I have got a friend who used to work in Song Que and from wat he told me they don't get any tips. The owner gets everything. They have fixed pay per evenings like about 25-30£. And the way they treat customers is how the owner tell them to do to get more customers in per evening. So I am not blaming the staffs and I don't ever tips them since waiters don't get a penny from the tips.


Extremely rude staff. Food was horrible. Two of my friends have pains and upset stomach since they ate the duck there last night. It is not BYO. Basically safe yourself the disappointment and do not eat at this restaurant.


The food was decent but absolutely terrible service. Food was just put in front of anyone without even trying to get it right. Told how many minutes left till we had to leave our seat constantly and payment demanded before we had even finished eating. Horrendous.


The food was really great but service leaves a lot to be desired! Occasional waves of sewage smell didn't help either.

sabrina tucci

Lovekly food but horrible service starting from a disgusting smell of sewage coming from the toilet and reaching our table. Not to mention the fact that they told us abrutly 5 minutes after our arrival that we have to leave by a specific time which did not ake us feel very welcome and relaxed...and again we were supposed to order quickly but they did not bother giving us a menue. Finally I asked water for everybody and got it for myself only.


If you fancy the smell of a broken sewage mixed with air fresheners, while your eating, then this is your place.


Booked a table for tonight for 10 people for a friends birthday. We showed up to find that they had lost our reservation. Instead of apologizing and offering to seat us as soon as possible, the man ignored me and walked away when he could find the booking. I asked him again what was going on, he told me in a very rude voice that again they could not find the booking. I assured him I had booked, and he muttered something that suggested I was lying about making the booking just to get a table. An apology rather than an accusation would have been nice. Will never try to go here gain


The average of 2 stars review by users and 5 stars by Timeout says it all: Timeout has been historically biased towards Song Que for reasons unknown to me. My personal favourite being Mien Tay - but make sure you don't go on a weekend without reservation to any of them. It is true that Song Que is an exciting and very reasonably priced option in the area, but the service is appalling (no excuses after so many years in town) and the food is not worth writing home about. Overall a decent option for informal and enjoyable dining in London, especially in this area, but nothing to do with what Timeout insists on raving about year after year (they proudly display the sign of 'Best cheap eats 2012' by the door, which is not very promising in my opinion)


As per the majority of other reviews, the food is decent, but not noticeably so from the some of great variety of other places on the road or round the corner. Kay Tre on Old St for example being as good if not better (their Crab Cake Pho is special). HOWEVER. The attitude of staff and rudeness was quite shocking, even when I was expecting it having read the reviews. Timeout should really take another look at the 5* review, because the food isn't worthy and the service deserves a mark down too.. Making this place 3*'s at best.


Very poor service, extremely rude staff. I was told" if you don like this seat, you can go, I have others to serve". Because they are popular and long queue outside the door, does not give them the right to be rude!!!!!!!!!!! Amazed anyone can be treated like that in any restaurant! Do Not Go There!


Seriously Time out critics! User rating 2 stars, timeout 5 stars from so called critics.... Have you actually had authentic Vietnamese? Go back to culinary school!!!!


Frentic, loud and casual; I'm immediately transported to Hanoi. The only difference? Proper chairs are a luxury compared to the wooden stools. The food? As beautiful. This restaurant is run by Vietnamese and have the same 'chop chop' approach to business - eat, pay, leave. So do come in with different expectations about service which is balanced by the price. The usuals on my order are usually the Pho (noodle soup), Bun (noodle salad) and Betel leaf beef started. Portions are huge, I recommend sharing and having your own delicious and silky Vietnamese iced coffee. What a way to enjoy your weekend!


I came here about 2 months ago with a friend who was moving abroad. I've been to Song Que on several occasions with friends to have fresh, tasty, cheap food. The service is usually poor and I accepted that but on this occasion as I was catching up with my friend, we had finished our meal and were in that stage where we were wondering about whether or not to order dessert. We couldn't get the waiter's attention, so we kept chatting for a bit and then suddenly the bill turn's up. We both looked at the waiter blankly and so he said "You finished, people waiting" as he pointed to people waiting at the door. We were both gobsmacked! We felt it was very rude and decided that we should pay and leave immediately and get dessert elsewhere. I was very disappointed and it was a terrible end to the meal. I will not be coming back here.


I have been to this place. The food is quite good, but the service is terrible and the waiters are rude. One even asked me to leave when I sat in a table for 2 since that was located in a rather quiet area, but they wanted me to move to somewhere else.


I've been coming here for years now and I only recently I stopped. The food quality I believe is gone down drastically, maybe the fame got to their heads! I'm now going next door...opened only last winter and food is really good and the service is fantastic. I wouldn't recommend Song Que anymore... :-(


Well what can I say. I'm Vietnamese, a friend of the family and a local to the restaurant. I was surprised to see the new sign with "Time Out Best Cheap Eats" significantly displayed. I wanted to find out the reason and couldn't believe the number of negative comments I found here. Sadly, I agreed with all of it. The food has always been amazing hence the number of customers and I always recommend it to anyone who ask me for the best Vietnamese place to eat. An incident occurred with me recently which I feel compelled to write, this happened well before they put up the new sign. I asked a friend to meet me there for lunch. When I arrived she was sitting at a table for two. I asked her to move to a table for four as we had so many bags with us. The place was 3/4 empty but this stupid fat little waiter, a nephew of the owner told us we must remain at the table for two. I said no we need more space so we can be more comfortable when we eat. He still insisted that we must sit where we were shown to and that's the law he said. I said "Law? What law? What are you talking about? I'm here to eat, not attend court." We moved to a different table anyway. He couldn't do anything about it and went off to tell the other waiting staffs, the floor manager, the kitchen staffs and everybody came out to have a good look at me. That angered me so I called the manager to come over but she was afraid to. I complained to another waiter but he was petrified to do anything about it. Once the meal was over I went to see a girl at the nails bar a few doors down who's a friend of mine and the owner's sister. She couldn't apologise enough and said she will speak to her sister about it. Come to this place for the food if you must and leave early. The waiting staffs here are mainly overseas students on £4 an hour so don't expect a proper service if any at all. And avoid that stupid fat little waiter if you can.

Aussie Viet

DON'T GO HERE. When I went, as the waiter's were clearing the table one said to the other to keep the rice that we hadn't eaten. They didn't realise I understand Vietnamese. When we confronted the maitre d, she had nothing to say. No wonder so many people have commented that they have been sick.


Ate here since the place had amazing reviews, and felt very unwell afterwards. I do not understand why this restaurant is so highly rated. Plus the staff were very unfriendly.


The place gave me food poisoning, bad rice I think. I do not really need to add anything more.


Non-existent service and rude staff. My companion and I were very disappointed.


I live down the road so ordered a takeaway for 2 people. This was easily the worst food I've eaten in a long time. The soft shell crab was inspid , the vietnamese spring rolls mediocre and the beef with crispy noodles slimy and tasteless. The pho was the most disappointing and went directly in the bin. A waste of £28 and I'm still hungry.


Very rude staff, appalling service, average food. Look elsewhere. The staff almost depise customers here (if they can be bothered to serve you - and, when they do, they want you out in 5 mins). DREADFUL!!!

mark ratcliff

Song Que's popularity is beyond me..the food is full of MSG, the chicken looks and tastes reconstituted, quality is akin to a bog standard high street Chinese...


The waiters were rude and unfriendly, I ordered a pho which tasted bland and my girlfriend one of their pancakes which was very greasy and bland. It's completely overrated and shouldn't be recommended to anyone who likes authentic asian food.


I googled cheap eats in kingsland road and this came up. I had been to a two other Vietnamese restaurants in that area and was tempted to go to the trusted viet grill - but then changed our mind. The décor does not look like a typical restaurant and as there were not many people there - we were not sure. We ordered 3 starters to share and as the pancake was so large - we could not fit in a main. 1. spicy deep fried prawns - awesome and tasty. 2. chicken and prawn pancake - stuffed with tons of beans sprouts; sounds bland and boring and looks strange - but drizzled with sweet chilli - awesome!!!! Maybe a little large for a starter - but I never really understood people who complained about being served too much food - if you feel yourself getting full - stop eating 3. Lamb chops; oh sweet manna!! Marinated in sweet and sticky sauce of - oh so goodness. Yes, the waiters weren't that polite - although one told me i was beautiful when reapplying my lipstick - but I it makes up for in the quality of food. My food experience; a whole of load awesomeness!!!!!


Terrible service! Rude and abrupt staff. Had much better experiences at the other Vietnamese restaurants nearby.

Johnny C

excellent food quality highly recommended for authentic style of food service was quick and needed

Ms Wong

Went here yesterday on a whim. We were in the area and asked in a local cafe which was the best Vietnamese restaurant on the street. It was 5pm and the waiters were actually all eating dinner but we needed something to eat. I had the wonton pho, it was a thing of wonder... beautifully balanced fragrant broth, homemade wontons, perfectly cooked noodles. My friend had the grilled catfish soup which was also delicious. In response to the negative comments below, yes, if you go to an authentically Asian restaurant, you're probably going to get authentically Asian service. And when it's busy, standards are much more likely to slip. But this was the best Pho I've had outside Vietnam and I'll be going back.


Very rude waitress! Just passed the door and they asked you need to have eaten in 1hour and half! No hello or whatever... Then they seat you on a table just next to someone while the restaurant is half empty!!!! Don't go if you are a couple and have a child, cause they will seat you on a table for two! Will never go again! There are so manu nicer restaurants around where the food and service are amazing.


Is time out getting money from the restaurant? It is ugly, bad service and the food is comparable to the dodgiest take away around the corner of my house.


The food is incredibly nice, price is also good. The service is not amazing, the place is crazy busy......because the food is good.


How comes Time Out gives good ratings ? This restaurant used to be a little gem - now the owners are focussed on $$$ - very rude service, go spend your money elsewhere...


The food here used to be very good... however, the owners are focussed on $$$ and certainly not customer care. However, none if this seems to stop people coming for a cheap-eat. Be warned though... The staff are very rude and abrupt, telling you to hurry up and wont hesitate to argue with you if they gave you something you didn't order! Yes, the age old "customer is always right" does not apply at Song Que. My verdict: Song Que is "past it" - there are lots of other nice local restaurants which fit budget so go find them!


Our experience at this restaurant was one of the worst ever. Our starters (spring rolls and pork wrapped in betel leaves) were decent, even good, but the service was brusque from the very start. Our mains, (vermicelli noodles with stir fried pork and beef) were awful and completely indelible. I signalled our waiter and told him that I could not eat my meal. Glaring down at me he demanded "Why?" I responded the meat seemed old and had a strange taste. "We are busy!" he said. "Meat is fresh!" "Well, I cannot eat it." I said, pushing my untouched bowl in his direction. "You must pay!" he growled. So we paid for the full meal and left, swearing never to return.


Total disappointment! In fact, one of biggest culinary letdowns in my memory. Overpriced, fatty and lacking in substance food. My husband will eat almost anything, but he couldn't even finish his spring rolls. Five stars?!!


Spring rolls were dripping in fat. Main courses (morning glory in garlic and then tofu) were in some sugary gloop. The rice had no fragrance. Just really bad food and £35 with two beers (no vietnamese beer either). Go to Tre Viet on Mare Street. The food is ten times better. Recommend you avoid this place unless you are extremely hungry / drunk (delete as appropriate).


Despite the negative comments, the fact this restaurant is always busy is because the food is tasty. The soups are fragrant and bun noodle dishes flavoursome.


This is the closest you will get to authentic pho from Vietnam, however, Song Que is inconsistent. The pho on a Sunday is rubbish. On a Wednesday, its ok. The noodles come raw. Twice in a row, we had to send the noodles back and the staff think you dont know anything about food. The noodles ARE meant to be cooked before they put the stock in. Plus they want to charge you if you ask for herbs when pho is meant to come with herbs. Its a shame that they dont care about loosing returning customers because they are always full and if we stop going, they really couldnt care less. Unfortunately, if you want the real deal, you need to travel to Vietnam.


Food was completely tasteless. 'spicy' squid was boring, flavoured with a bit of pepper. Salad inside the summer rolls was brown and slimy. However, anything was better than the noodle soup that had been so highly recommended. It simply tasted like salty dishwater which they had tried to conceal with an overwhelming amount of coriander. Worst meal I have ever had the misfortune of paying for.


A most rude girl was serving tonight, definitely will not revisit again despite relatively alright food wise.


Dined here in late September. The food was great (spicy squid, summer rolls). The service, while perhaps not exactly the warmest and most welcoming, was perfectly fine. Recommended for its food quality and value for money. A great deal all in all.

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