Remember when I said I have the memory of a goldfish when it comes to recalling what stood in the place of a newly opened restaurant? Oh right yeah, that was just two days ago. Anyway, Monday night I’m at Cay Tre’s new Soho restaurant happily eating away when somebody says, “hey, what used to be here?”


Like seriously, blank. And aside from the street I live on, Dean Street is probably my most frequented street not in the least because that’s where my groceries come from but also because it is the holy gateway between me and Chinatown. And that’s my second home. Not only did I not notice that Cay Tre was opening right up until the day it actually opened, I have no idea – not one, zero, zilch – what was there before.

Mustn’t have been very good then, huh? Anyway as Pumbaa wisely said, “you got to put your behind in your past” … genius.

So, Cay Tre. Already riding high on the reputation of their Old St branch, their Soho branch was much anticipated and in its opening week, it’s been bustling. Probably because addicts like myself have already been twice and someone else I know has been three times. We can’t help ourselves.

The food is good, the atmosphere buzzing, the space is large (apparently much larger than the other branch) and there’s a bar. What else do you need? My favourite dishes so far have been the grilled aubergine, crispy frogs legs (fleshy things!), mekong catfish and ‘luc lac’ shaking beef.

crispy salt & pepper frogs legs

cured beef summer rolls

These were meant to come with a chicken liver sauce as per the menu but instead came with regular summer roll sauce. Hm.

grilled aubergine topped with ground pork & nuoc cham

If I had to pick one top dish I would probably pick the grilled aubergine. It’s salty, it’s tangy, it’s fragrant, it’s… seriously amazing.

pho bo with cornfed chicken

beef & green papaya salad with Thai basil & mint

slow cooked mekong catfish caramelised in fish sauce

The sauce. On plain rice. YUM.

honey & lemon roasted lang son spinning roast Tamworth pork belly

cognac ‘luc lac’ shaking beef wok seared with whole garlic cloves & black pepper

soft shelled crab curry with dried tamarind & curry leaves

As eclectic as Soho is, there’s not really any other restaurant like it. I mean, there’s Pho and there’s Viet Noodle Bar on Greek St, but they’re more casual and focused on the noodly side of things. Cay Tre has somehow found a niche where it didn’t seem possible to find a niche, and though it’s been said that the food at this branch isn’t as good as the original, I thought it was pretty good and I’d definitely go back. Maybe like, this weekend.

ps. I’m starting to eat fairly normally again. Soon the issue of my behind will very much be in my present.

Cay Tre
42-43 Dean Street
Soho, W1D 4QD
0207 317 9118

Cay Tre Soho on Urbanspoon

10 Thoughts on “Cay Tre, Soho: putting my behind in my present

  1. Hmmm… I’m heading there for a lunch in a couple of days & after seeing all these pictures I can’t wait! Without looking at the menu I already know what I’m going to order… 😉
    And considering that my only other Vietnamese food experience so far has been Pho, I can surely class this as “research” & stuff my face with far too much food?

  2. They have frog legs on the menu?? I definitely have to try that!

  3. Oh when you said you were going I didn’t know you meant to a new branch, awesome! Double the fun.

  4. Does this mean you’ve now converted to pho? I seem to remember that when it comes to noodles, you’re more a ‘bun’ kinda girl!

    As good as it looks, I’m still put off from my bad experience at sister resto, Viet Grill. That said, I did enjoy Cay Tre (Old St branch) when I went there a while back.

  5. Hehe I have the same moments too! I don’t know why I can’t remember what used to be at places either! And I’m glad to hear that you’re almost back to eating as normal too 😀

  6. Kay: totally! It’s all in the name of research! 🙂

    Kay: YES! I looove frogs legs but often I find they are too skinny. the ones we had were so big and meaty, delicious!!

    Sasa: Yeah, as if I’d wander to east London…

    Mr Noodles: Haha, sorry to say I’m still a bun fan. The pho was ordered by Euwen who was feeling sick and needed some hot soup! I haven’t been to Viet Grill or the other Cay Tre so can’t comment, but this one has nice food.. service is soso though.

    Lorraine: I know – what’s in the past is in the past.. more important is what yummy new thing just opened!

  7. Linh on May 19, 2011 at 8:10 am said:

    Hoooray! It’s now in a much more sociable location (for those who live in west London). Is it still a no booking policy like the one in old street? Did you spy any of the same sort of queues?

  8. I’ve seen some mixed reviews during opening week, but the dishes I had there were absolutely gorgeous, even during soft opening. Although (as you know!) I’ve been back a few times since and I have to say the chicken pho is better than the beef pho and I’ve had a couple of misses (the mackerel summer rolls – what was I thinking?). It’s an interesting menu (quite original) and I’m excited to have an outlet in Soho – I’m sure consistency will continue to improve given how good the mothership is!

  9. Linh: Yes you can make reservations online… and yes there are some queues later in the evening, but the venue is apparently much larger than the Old St branch.

    Greedy Diva: I was a bit meh about the cured beef summer rolls too. Maybe everyone should avoid the summer rolls. Everything else was good though 🙂

  10. So great to hear that the appetite is properly back. Meanwhile I’ll be priming mine for the catfish and aubergine, as per your sage advice….

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