Bun Hue, Bahn Mi and Rolls – City Caphe, Cheapside

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I know this looks like a big lunch but I had a partner in crime for lunch today. Though I could happily finish everything if I wanted to!

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Was reading another food blog and there was a post about City Caphe which I realised is pretty close to where the Boom works while only a 15 mins walk across the bridge from me. When it comes to Asian food, Korean, Japanese, Chinese and Thai food are pretty well represented in the City but not Vietnamese. So City Caphe is a much needed find.

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When the Boom and I got to the place, the queue was about 15 deep but it moved pretty quickly and we both got our orders after 5 minutes. Not such a bad thing to be in the queue as it gives you time to decide what to order. In general, the choices includes soupy noodles like pho or bun hue, vermicelli salad or rice with a choice of grilled meats, bahn mi filled with grill meat options and either fried spring rolls or summer rolls.

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The Boom went with a bahn mi with chargrilled pork (£3.50) and the fried spring rolls (£3.75) while I went for Beef Bun Hue (£6.50) and the summer roll (£3.75).

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The problem with eating lunch in the city is finding a place to sit. There are limited seats in City Caphe but as food were made to order, it was pretty stuffy in the shop. Most people bring their food back to the office but sometimes taking a break from the office setting relaxes the mind. Thanks to the Boom who found this peaceful and tranquil setting near the Guildhall.

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The Boom enjoyed his bahn mi. His one minor gripe is the bread could be lighter in texture.  Get the lady to go easy on the sriracha as Boom was scorched by the sauce half way through his sandwich.

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We shared both the rolls and Boom preferred my summer roll while I have yet to have mine as my Bun Hue was very generous portion wise, especially the thinly sliced beef. The fried spring rolls was served with a portion of nuoc cham while the summer roll was served with a different sauce.

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Once again, I’m always impressed when the herbs are provided in a separate container. In this instance, there was sliced chilies, basil and some beansprouts. I would have loved more beansprouts. Word of caution, for those of you who can’t take the heat, suggest you go for the pho rather then the bun hue.

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Cute pictorial to link Vietnamese words to the food it represents. Will definitely go back to City Caphe when I’m craving for soupy noodles.

City Caphe
17 Ironmonger Lane
London EC2V 8EY

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Meatball Rice Box – Leon, Bankside

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Got off my lazy butt and took a walk to continue my forage for lunch. Headed out to the Bankside development again to give Leon a try.

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I have came across Leon quite a few times during my other gigs in Canary Wharf as well as in the Fleet Street area. Never thought to give it a try though they have quite an interesting breakfast menu. Was told by others that the food is good but portions are a bit small for the money.

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The format is basically a few savoury options where you can have with rice, as part of a salad or in a wrap. There is also a fridge area where you can pick up drinks and pre made salad if you are in a rush. The decor and seating looks pretty cosy I have to say.

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Been awhile since I had rice and I have always favoured brown rice. So it’s the Meatball Rice Box for me today. At £6.30, it’s slightly on the steep side.

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In all, I counted 6 meatballs and I really enjoyed them. Slightly on the lean side but they are nice and moist. The rich, tart and tangy tomato sauce goes very well with the brown rice and the yoghurt dressing gives a nice creamy touch. The coleslaw combined very well with the meatball, sauce and brown rice. It’s crunchy, slightly sweet and the ample mint and parsley was very refreshing. Perfect companion to the rich tomato sauce.

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Enjoyed this lunch, the portion was just right but could be slightly cheaper.

Leon
7 Canvey Street
The Blue Fin Building
London SE1 9AN

Pho Chin Bo Vien – Pho, Spitalfields

Pho in containers

Clockwise from left: Fried Pork Spring Rolls, Bean Sprouts/Sliced Onions/Spring Onions, Slice Beef Brisket and Beef Balls on top of rice noodles, Soup, Bag of Herbage

So today is part two of the Pho Off! Apologies to everyone who was looking forward to this. The weather was nice and warm recently and not conducive for soupy and hot lunches. But I decided to pull my finger out today.

So Mr CSS and I decided to get lunch together today. It’s nice to have a buddy walk with you and a good opportunity to talk about other stuff apart from work. Appreciate the fact that though he decided to satisfy his addiction for the Chicken Katsu Curry Rice at Japanika, he still walked with me to Pho. Thank you!

Pho Shop Front

I have eaten at other branches of Pho before, the Oxford Circus and Westfield Shepherd’s Bush branches so I know the quality of the food. This branch at Spitalfield is brand spanking new. At most a month old? It has a cut down takeway menu and the takeaway counter is upstairs up a flight of wooden stairs. According to the takeaway menu, you can call and order in advance and just turn up to collect. I did not know about that so ordered on site. It did not take that long which was great! Apart from pho, they have other interesting choices so definitely worth a revisit in future. Since this is part of the Pho Off! installment, I had to order a pho. I went with the Pho Chin Bo Vien and a side of Fried Pork Spring Rolls. Chin = Beef Brisket, Bo Vien = Beef Balls. Total bill came to £10.90. Yikes! Perhaps I can do without the Fried Pork Spring Rolls….

Pho Herbage

The small budge on the top right hand side contains sliced red bird eye chilies

I know that when you eat in, you will get a tray of herbage for you to customise your pho the way you want it. I was not expecting this with a takeaway so was pleasantly surprised. The small bag contains sprigs of mint, basil, coriander and a lime wedge. Yes! Lime wedge, not lemon. They even bothered to separate the evil sliced red bird eye chilies! That’s the way to go!

Pho with torn herbage

If you refer to the first pic, I really appreciate that almost all the components of the pho is packed separately. This prevents the bean sprouts and rice noodles from getting soggy if they were soaked in the soup. But it does take some effort to assemble all the components and tear up the herbage.

Pho stirred but not shaken

This is what I expect a pho to taste like. Though not as good as what I have tasted in Vietnam, I think it’s not a bad attempt, for a chain store at that! The broth could do with a stronger star anise taste but has a deep but not coying beefiness. The herbage and squeeze of lime juice really helps to life the flavour. The beef brisket was slice evenly and of the right thickness and the beef ball taste as they should. All in all, I was satiated.

I really did not need the Fried Pork Spring Rolls. I was stuffed after I finished the pho (well, I drank all the broth).They were filled with minced pork, granted carrot, rice vermicelli and wood ear mushroom. It was nice and crispy when hot and is served with a side of nuoc chiam. Maybe a tad oily. I only had 1 roll and kept the rest as a snack for later.

I don’t think it takes a genius to know which of the 2 pho I prefer. But I will still bored you folks with a PROPER summary post in the next couple of days.

Pho
48 Brushfield Street
London E1 6AG
0207 377 6436
Mon-Wed 1130 – 2200
Thus – Sat 1130 – 2300
Sun 1130 – 2200

p/s: Mr CSS and I got caught up in a celebrity filming session on the way… guess who?

It's Robbie!

Who is the gentleman in pink? It’s Robbie Williams!