Visit London Blog » countries beginning with v Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 22 May 2015 17:44:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Vietnam in London: Vietnamese Restaurants Thu, 23 Feb 2012 14:19:20 +0000

Thanks to the influx of Vietnamese migrants towards the end of the Vietnam war in the 1970s, London’s Vietnamese dining is as good as it gets.

A classic bowl of Vietnamese noodle-soup (Pho) is the place to start.  This flavoursome rice-noodle broth is the staple diet for most of the nation. Filled with the fresh aromas of ginger, lemongrass and spice, it’s served with a side plate of garnishes and you add in fresh herbs, bean sprouts and chilli to your liking.

It certainly beats a chicken tikka masala or fish and chips, (both contenders for Britain’s national dish), in my opinion.

To sample great Vietnamese food in London, begin in Shoreditch on Kingsland Road, where you can take your pick from numerous, inexpensive eateries.

Favourites include Song Que (make sure you try their spicy soft shell crab), and Old Street’s trendy Cay Tre around the corner for fabulous grilled fish and peanut-based broths.

Neighbourhood local Namo in Bethnal Green village, offers a lovely environment and top quality food and there’s now a second outlet Hop Namo in Shoreditch’s shipping-container shopping mall – Box Park.

If you’re after a Vietnamese feed in the West End, a second Cay Tre has now opened on Dean Street in Soho and it’s equally as popular as the original so make sure you pre-book. Due to being in the centre of town, prices are slightly higher but the food is just as good and they offer a menu of classic dishes and regional Vietnamese specialities.

For more central Vietnamese dining, look out for the Pho chain with outlets on Great Titchfield Street, Clerkenwell and Soho. No guesses what’s on the menu here!

If you want to sample more upmarket Vietnamese dining, take a trip to Bam Bou, by Charlotte Street. Housed in a beautiful wooden-floored townhouse, the three-floored restaurant offers upmarket Chinese, Thai and French Vietnamese cooking.

Vietnam’s French influences have culminated in national street snack – the Vietnamese baguette (Bánh mì) made up of fresh bread, your choice of marinated meat, pickled carrots, chilli and lashings of coriander. You’ll see many mobile baguette shops being wheeled through the streets of Vietnam.

Recently, Bánh mì shops have been popping up in London. Try Viet Baguette by Goodge Street, or, one of the originals – the Bánh mì 11 baguette stall on Broadway Market open every Saturday.

Read Jo Aspin’s blog for more foodie inspiration

Where else can you find Vietnamese culture in London?

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Venezuela in London: Mi Cocina Es Tuya – Café Latino, Crystal Palace Fri, 10 Dec 2010 11:00:48 +0000

Between the pubs and print shops of Westow Street in Crystal Palace is a fantastic little restaurant serving authentic Venezuelan cuisine. Mi cocina es tuya (My kitchen is yours) bills itself as London’s only Venezuelan restaurant – perfect for our World in London series.. If you know better, let us know in the comments below!

I went to meet husband-and-wife team Alexis and Mary yesterday to sample their coffee, and find out about their unique eatery. What started as an events catering business with a stall in Camden Market now has a more stable base in this Crystal Palace restaurant. During the past three years, Alexis and Mary have served their traditional Venezuelan cuisine all over London, from the Carnaval del Pueblo to the Venezuelan Embassy. For the last seven months, they’ve been concentrating on developing Mi cocina es tuya.

The menu offers delicious-sounding empanadas (patties), asado criollo (grilled beef and rice) and arepas (corn bread with beef, chicken or cheese). The most popular dish, Alexis tells me, is the Pabellón de carne: beef, black beans, rice and fried plantains.

“At first, finding the right ingredients was difficult. For example, this hallaca is a traditional Christmas dish, but it’s wrapped in banana leaves.” He shows me an intricately bound parcel of dark green leaves. “But, you can’t just buy banana leaves in Asda! Now, we’ve found out about the right vendors in Brixton, at the market, and we can make hallaca. Similarly, you can’t get the chilli beef for Pabellon de carne in a normal supermarket. Now, we go to a Columbian butcher in Brixton. It tastes just as good as the meat in Venezuela.”

As well as the traditional food, Mary and Alexis are proud to show me their Venezuelan drinks. Mi cocina es tuya is one of the few places in London you can enjoy typical Latin drinks like Malta, Sugarcane with lemon, and Cocada, which, I’m told, is like coconut milkshake, but much nicer.

“People are often surprised that our food is like food from Trinidad and Tobago, or Caribbean food. But really, we’re from the same part of the world. Chilean, Peruvian, Columbian, all Latin American people that come here will see and recognise the products we sell.”

Indeed, as well as being a lovely place for a traditional Venezuelan breakfast of Perico (scrambled eggs with chopped tomatoes, onions and coriander, black beans, cheese and arepa, or corn bread – much healthier, I’m assured than the Traditional English they also serve), Mi cocina es tuya is also something of a Latin American deli. You can by the white or yellow “PAN” cornflour, as well as Malta drinks and other typical delicacies.

With guitars and maracas hanging from the walls, as well as plenty of gorgeous pictures of Venezuela itself, I think Mi cocina es tuya is a fantastic representation of Venezuelan London. And the wonderful hospitality of Alexis and Mary means I’ll be back for more. That, and the promise of trying some Dulce de tres leche next time!

Visit Mi cocina es tuya – Café Latino at 61 Westow Street Crystal Palace, London, SE19 3RW. If you know any other examples of Venezuelan culture in London, let us know in the comments below.

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