Cây Tre

Restaurants, Vietnamese Shoreditch
38 Love It
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Cây Tre
© Tom Baker

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
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Average User Rating

3.1 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:3
  • 3 star:5
  • 2 star:2
  • 1 star:2
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This place popped up on a google search for restaurants in shoreditch and I'm so happy we found it. When we arrived, there was a small queue but we only had to wait 5 minutes for a table (as a table of two we were fine but I imagine the wait would be longer for a group any bigger). The atmosphere was lively and the food was quick, just what we needed.

The food was really great! I had a prawn vermicelli which was amazing and the portion was absolutely huge for the price. Normally you only get a couple of king prawns however there were a good 6 or 7 in the noodles.

I would definitely go back, however next time I would order a takeaway, here's why. 1- the restaurant is so crowded that you are basically sitting on top of each other. 2 - you can reserve tables but that leaves people who haven't waiting. Although we only had a 5 min wait, this was whilst we were standing looking at the empty table which was apparently reserved but they later gave us and 3- the service isn't great. When we ordered, I asked how spicy the food was and the waiter said barely at all, I therefore had to pick out about 10 chillies (I do like spice, but not when you aren't expecting something spicy). We also ended up sitting with empty plates for 15 minutes whilst every waiter walked past us and carried on even after looking at the table.

Definitely a place for a takeaway next time!


Usually crowded little place, not without reason: the food is beautiful and delicious, and it is fairly priced (mainly taking the area to account). The pho is especially great! The small area feels cosy, but the big glass window alloew for light, so you don’t feel so confined. Super recommended; be prepared for queuing after 7pm, though...

The Soho branch is better in atmosphere and service, but it was overpriced too, like this branch. To start with, the atmosphere is very run down. The toilet was not clean enough. 

Especially in terms of decoration and atmosphere, this Old Street branch is in a bad condition. If I would pay 30 pounds per person for a mediocre food, at least I would expect a much better service and ambience! But alas, none of this was there to be found! Still you have to pay service charge. This is not fair. 

The service was friendly, but not attentive. The waiters just didn't care about you. They cared more about chatting in a corner with each other. 

Also, the plates that placed on our table were dirty. The waiters were not aware of that. When I told them to change them, they didn't say sorry. The spaces we sat were dirty too, there were lots of crumbles! The table was wiped, but there were some oil stains nevertheless. When we used our first napkins because the food was really messy, they were not replaced because the waiters are not attentive to care about that! 

The portions are big, but the food is really average, so I think Cay Tre is very overpriced, especially if you add bad service and atmosphere. I can find great dishes from the same region's cuisine (Korean, Chinese, Japanese etc) for much more affordable prices and a better service, in a cleaner venue. I don't recommend here! I won't go back!


Apparently, Cay Tre is a part of the chain of Vietnamese restaurants that also includes a long standing favourite of mine Viet Grill in Kingsland Road. Cay Tre is the more democratic sibling. The interior is basic, the tables are cramped together, the basement where we sat was overly lit and so noisy there were times we choked from laughing as it was impossible to make out anything we were saying. My martini arrived after my food and the stressed out waiters serving the floor kept delivering wrong dishes to the wrong tables. Most likely you will be in and out quickly, as there’s nothing here to make you linger. But the food is good and deeply flavoursome and satisfying, so I most certainly will be back time and again. We got a cucumber water carafe when asked for some tap water. The flat noodles in our phos were a step up from the store bought variety and from what you get in other Vietnamese joints (I read on their web-site they deliver them from Hanoi twice a week!) and the broth was flavoursome. I couldn’t finish my bowl of mushroom pho, as the portions are generous. I’m not sure, though, how traditional it is for a pho to be served with a slice of lemon, rather than lime, but that didn’t seem to diminish the flavour.  


Okay so food wise this place is great. The pho is probably the best I've had outside of Vietnam (although it could've done with some fresh chilli). The summer rolls were also dead authentic, as was the mango lassi. My main gripe with this place is how compact and busy it is. 

We booked a table for three on Friday evening, and it was SO busy we were glad we did. There was a queue out the door! So I would definitely recommend booking in advance. They do cram you in though - it's pretty claustrophobic downstairs where a majority of the tables are. They also hover over you when you finish your meal basically waiting for you to ask for the bill.

Oh and when you do ask for the bill, they add a 'discretionary' 12.5% charge and then quibble over you not paying 1p of it when the bill doesn't evenly split into three! So yeah, food good, service not so good!

Great pho. While I love pho I often find they can be disappointing. I got a takeaway pho from Cay Tre when I had a cold, and it was just what i needed .Very fresh came with loads of mint lime and chili. Recently I went back to eat in. I had the hanger steak which came in a bowl that was on fire. Fun, not what I was expecting and above all very tasty. Nice light decor. service is so, so but that is kind of what you expect.Still, keen to go back! 

Smashing, been loads of times and yet sadly do not live in the area anymore. 

Great service. Great food.
If you ask nicely they with cook off menu !
Cant say better than that !

Staff Writer

Really surprised some people have given this venue a low rating. I don't think they understand the concept of good vietnamese. The decor is very plain but its all about the food. I discovered this place when i first moved to London in 2007 and became addicted. It was near my work and i had to control myself from having it more than once a week at lunch times. Authentic food and friendly staff. My hot tip is GET THE SALT & PEPPERED SQUID. It is so good you will not share any. I know one friend who ordered the squid for starter and main in the one sitting. She is a genius. :-)

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..

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.