What's the best Vietnamese on Kingsland Road?
Some say Viet Grill, other favour Viet Hoa, so contrarily we tried Tay Do, located bang between the other two.
It's a casual place, with long, shared tables down the middle, and little in the way of decoration if you don't count the gold coloured cats holding up their paws on the back-wall counter. Turns out these are called "money cats", and a raised right paw is attracts money, while a raised left paw brings in customers. I didn't know this at the time, so didn't pay attention, but judging by how full the place was and how cheap the prices were, I suspect theirs was a left-handed pussy.
The menu is bewilderingly long, so we skipped straight to the noodles and soup section (although with hindsight I am rather sorry to have missed out on the soft-shelled crabs concealed in the starters section).
The chicken pho (£5) -- a traditional white noodle soup -- was very flavoursome, and served with a bowl of bean sprouts and fresh herbs to chuck in. To my disappointment, the friend who'd ordered it declined the addition of the cracked in egg on being told it was semi raw.
We also tried the stir-fried u-don noodles (fat white worms) with mixed meat (£6), and crispy fried noodles with seafood (£5.50). Both came with lots of vegetables, though the crispiness of the latter noodles was sadly erroded by a gloupy, unpleasant sauce.
Still, it was all filling, tasty, cheap food.
There's a quid a head corckage charge, or a choice of two decidely unremarkable Vietnamese bears for £2.20 each. The place clearly fails the tap water test by stating in the menu that they charge 30 pence per glass of London's finest. But then with all that yummy broth, you don't really need water.
The only real complaint was the service -- it was very hard to get anyone's attention (to sit down, to order, to ask for the bill, etc) and the food arrived one-at-a-time, with significant intervals.
Conclusion: not bad for the price, but probably not the best on the road? (Though it's been a while since I last visited any of the others.)
Tay Do Cafe, 65 Kingsland Road, E2 8AG; Tel. 0207 729 7223; Tube: Old Street