When, like me, you have been going to the same Vietnamese restaurant for years and years, the idea of considering an alternative in another part of the city it is, some how, a much easier task than doing so next door to your favourite eatery.
However, this time, I was persuaded by my husband to try Loong Kee, a low key restaurant even nearer to the wonderful Geffrye Museum that a good friend had explained could be a worthy challenger to the Kingsland road Vietnamese kings. It was because of it that we locked our bikes and walked pass Song Que cafe to venture through the yellow door.
We were , one may say, lucky to have chosen a late lunch because the restaurant was not busy and the service did not feel pressured to shift tables. They were in fact very relaxed and left us to it; which is great when you have ordered dishes that don’t fit on your table if delivered at once…
The first impression of the menu was great! The menu looked authentic and different to the one next door; therefore, although our initial intention was to carry out a “like for like” comparison with our favourites, we decided to simply go for what ever caught our attention.
The duck salad was fantastic. Fresh, crunchy and with slices of a subtle duck , worked deliciously with the peanut sprinkle.
The prawn pancakes, which in China Town are served with fresh prawns, here had dried prawns and a crispy onion topping that made them delicious.
The pancake we usually order at Song Que has stir-fried chicken and prawns with onions and bean sprouts ; and it is served with a selection of mixed leafs. At Loong Kee it had one type of meat (we chose pork) smoky and grilled and delicious, with equally delicious onions. Although the pancake was not as crispy, the salad on the side offered as much crunch as you needed.
An then we went for grilled beef with noodles… Ok, so here I became confused. One of my favourite Thai dishes is called weeping (crying) tiger . It is a steak with delicious garlic and chillies grilled and served on a hot plate… the best one in London can be found at Addie’s (Earl’s court) , and i have not had it for years because i am never that side of town when it is time to eat… to be fair, i am rarely that side of town!
When we ordered Grilled Beef with noodles, the last thing i expected was a weeping tiger but i have to say that the surprise made my day. Salty (fish sauce) , sweet (basil), garlicky … it was a delicious end of lunch, and a good reason to return.
Photographs by Cristina Lanz-Azcarate
Text by Cristina Lanz-Azcarate
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