Café East is a little diamond in the rough amidst the kind of typical outer London complex which always contains a cinema, a Frankie and Benny’s and a Pizza Hut with not much else around the outside. Simple blue neon signs indicate you are in the right place, otherwise it’s just bolted doors behind which you can hear sizzling and shouting as you catch mouthwatering wafts that drive you round the bend (literally) as you try to find the door. Once inside, the café (it really is a cafe, not a restaurant), is very simple, yet bright, airy and full of Oriental customers. Happy days.
We ordered two starters to share, a dish very much like the Chinese cheung fun (with a very similar spelling on the menu), rice wrappers with a deeply savoury filling of minced meat and topped with slices of mystery meat (to which I’m not averse in the right places – this is one of them) and crispy, sweet fried onions. It came with a dip which I see from Lizzie is called nuoc cham – fish sauce, garlic, chilli and lime juice.
We’d been talking about craving summer rolls for weeks and these didn’t disappoint, soft vermicelli, sweet prawns, crunchy lettuce and strands of herbs including Thai basil and mint. They were duly dunked in the accompanying spicy peanut dipping sauce and lasted all of a few minutes.
For the main event we both ordered the Bun Bo Hue – a hot, steaming bowl of noodly broth containing prawns, chicken and yummy rare beef. The waitress asked us if we wanted spicy, we both nodded enthusiastically and it turned out to be just the right kind of heat – building nicely and giving you a bit of a sweat towards the end but no steam coming out of your ears.
The staff at Café East are attentive and friendly and the whole meal came to £30.10 (without service) for the food and two drinks – mine an iced herbal tea and my mates an iced coffee (there’s no alcohol license at Café East by the way).
Fortunately for me, the place is also but a mere twenty minute bus ride away, a fact I shall be appreciating as often as possible. Although, next time, I’ll make sure not to wear a white t-shirt.
100 Redriff Road
(The restaurant only accepts cash)