Saturday 24 September 2011

Green Papaya- A Taste of Vietnam?

I have never really taken to Vietnamese food- it has always seemed to me to be the blander less interesting version of Thai/Cambodian food.  In fairness though, credit where credit is due, the Vietnamese baguettes and the pho at Banh Mi 11 at Broadway Market are incredible.

However given that my recent experiences have limited to Banh Mi 11, as I am now living between those two heartlands of Vietnamese cuisine in London, Kingsland Road and Mare Street, I decided that I really needed to give Vietnamese another shot.  While I am sure that Kingsland Road does have restaurants of merit I have heard that it can be a little hit and miss/Brick Lane-esq and therefore decided to look further east on this occasion.  Having scoured a few blogs I settled on the Green Papaya on Mare Street.

Mare Street (as well as being the site of most of the troubles in Hackney of late) has a plethora of Vietnamese supermarkets and its fair share of Vietnamese Restaurants.  Green Papaya is at the top of Mare Street and is made up of two rooms separated by a rather strange glass box in which there is a a small fish pond and a plastic replica pig (no really!).  There also appeared to be an outside area which would no doubt be nice on a summer evening.

Now as I have already said, my knowledge of Vietnamese is a little on the light side, but thankfully the Fashionista and another guest from Scotland were on hand to guide me through.

For starters we had summer spring rolls (a favorite of the Fashionista), banana flowers with shredded chicken and spicy beef salad.  The spring rolls had juicy prawns and were nice and light.  The banana flowers had been fried and served with a small amount of chicken- although tasty this was a little salty.  The beef salad had juicy slices of rare beef, fresh red onion and crispy  fried onion- it was delicious.
Summer Vietnamese Spring Rolls.

Spicy Beef Salad.

Banana Flowers and Shredded Chicken.
For mains we went for slow cooked pork with winter vegetables and mushrooms- the pork was sticky and melted in your mouth, the mushrooms full of flavour, but the winter vegetables (whatever they were) were not apparent and it tasted a little too strongly of cinnamon- while nice I have the sneaky suspicion that this dish was more Chinese than Vietnamese.
Grilled Tilapia with Lime

Beef with Vietnamese basil and peanuts.

We also had morning glory with garlic (delicious), grilled tialpia with lime (fresh flaky fish simply done) and a shredded beef dish with Vietnamese basil and peanuts- very good.

For the three of us, the dinner with a few beers came to a very reasonable 60 quid.  I am not sure whether the meal was a true flavour of Vietnam but nevertheless it was a very tasty dinner at a reasonable price and you can't ask for much more than that.

Slow cooked pork belly with mushrooms and winter vegetables.
Green Papaya on Urbanspoon

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