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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Pho – Hop-Namo, Shoreditch Boxpark

Pho off! No, I have no issues using the f word in my blog but if you think that is what I mean but is too bashful to spell it properly, you need to give your brains a good soaping! What I meant is the next 2 blogs will be about Pho, the Vietnamese noodle dish. Then I will follow up with a blog comparing the two based on a set of made up criteria to see which fare better. I’m going to try out the lesser known new kid in town (or so I think they are) and the high street chain which you will read about tommorrow.

2 container exterior

Hop-Namo, the Vietnamese eatery is the spinoff of Namo at Victoria Park Road which itself is the sister restaurant of Huong Viet. Don’t know about you, but it is beginning to feel lika an episode of Who Do You Think You Are! Both Namo and Hop-Namo style themselves as traditional vietnamese with a modern twist so I will mentally prepare myself for it to not be the real thing. Hop-Namo is located in Shoreditch Boxpark and there seems to be loads of bad vibe about this place. Yes, I know it’s meant to showcase individual, edgy outlets but instead it’s filled with pretty well-known brand names. C’mon, anything is better than wasteland no?

Wood panel interior

The decor of Hop-Namo is quite rustic and manages to disguise the fact that you are in a container. There are several recycled wooded crates on caster wheels under the wall seats. Not too sure what’s in them, extra cutlery perhaps? The menu is a good representation of basic Vietnamese street food and ranges from Banh Mi, Goi (Salad), Pho (choice of meat or tofu) and a few curries. A daily specials board is also available and the 2 dishes that caught my eye today was a Special Beef Curry and Grilled Pork Balls with Lemongrass.

Pho and summer rolls

Yikes! Bright yellow lemon wedge!

Seeing this review is about Pho, I ordered the Pho with rump steak (Pho Bo) and 2 summer rolls, 1 with shreadded five spice duck the other with prawns. The Pho is £6.50 while the summer rolls are £1.50 each. At a total of £9.50, not breaking the bank but not cheap either.

Close upThe summer rolls are what they are so I will not write much about them except they are a tad small for £1.50. I do like the small container they come in though, cute. So how is the Pho? I hate to say this but I don’t like it. Seeing a thick wedge of lemon in the broth when I first open the container is a bad omen, it should be lime, never lemon! The most important thing about Pho is the broth. It should be a nice balance of anisey and beefiness yet have a fresh and clean after taste. The version at Hop-Namo is too overpowering with a strong aftertaste of black pepper and definitely way too salty. Coming from me aka Ms Salty Queen, that’s bad. I’m quite surprised that the thicker version of rice noodles is used. They are not bad, just not typical in Pho. I was only expecting sliced beef rump but was surprised to also find 2 minced beef balls with grilled marks. The beef rump was sliced unevenly, most of them too thick making them rather chewy. They also have a strange lemongrass taste. I think they have been marinated. The beef balls are a disappointment. Once again, too much pepper!. Other condiments include bean sprouts, coriander, julienne carrots and daikon.

Will I go back to Hop-Namo again, perhaps to try the other dishes, but definitely not the Pho. Too much of a modern twist for me.

Hôp Namô
Units 48 & 49
Boxpark
Bethnal Green Road
London E1 6GY
0207 729 9723