It’s worth queuing for Kêu’s banh mi: the bread for these tip-top Vietnamese sandwiches stands comparison with the best in London.
Kêu (which is pronounced ‘that sandwich shop on the corner’) is a new Vietnamese café in Soho that’s a branch of the Cây Tre and Viet Grill restaurant chain. The principal offering here is bánh mì, filled Vietnamese rolls. And the most important element of a great bánh mì is the roll itself. A crackly, thin crust should give way to soft, airy crumb; it’s not a French stick, and shouldn’t feel as heavy. When we took our first bite here, we knew that we were in the presence of roll models: they couldn’t have been better. And later we learned that they’re made for Kêu by the Sally Clarke Bakery, one of London’s best.
This is not to say that the fillings were negligible. The ‘Classic’ combo contains slices of roast pork with cucumber sticks, coriander leaves, red chilli and pickled carrot and daikon. Simple, but good. The vegetarian option combines deep-fried tofu chunks with roasted aubergine and the aforementioned salad. Both cost £7.10 eat-in. Other fillings include pork or mackerel.
Apart from bánh mì there are several rice bowl combos that are more broadly Vietnamese-inspired; if our braised beef brisket was anything to go by, you’re better off sticking to the bánh mì. But the plump, bouncily-textured summer rolls (a side dish, £5 for four pieces) are refreshing and thoroughly enjoyable.
To drink there are huge pots of tea and curvaceously retro Coke bottles. But best of all, in our view, was the off-menu Vietnamese dripped coffee (£3.50 each). A layer of condensed milk is placed in the bottom of a glass and a tiny steel coffee filter placed on top for the Cà Phê VN grind to filter into the glass below. The result of this drug ritual is sweet and addictive.
To read a review of the first branch of Kêu, in Shoreditch, click here.
9 Poland Street
|Transport:||Tube: Oxford Circus|
|Price:||Lunch for two with Vietnamese coffee: around £20.|
|Do you own this business?|
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Banh Mi heaven - http://wp.me/p6r9tz-o
So far I've only had experience with keu's take away service and every time it has done the trick of delivering perfect, comforting asian lunch time food for those "Ugh" days int he office. Both the baguettes and the traditional pho's are tasty, but the few times i went for one of the exotic sounding specials I was usually disappointing. Make sure when visiting Pho you've got some time, because service is really slow.