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