Food, Life, Photography

Healthy and affordable Vietnamese: Cafe Coco

So, I never got the opportunity to return to Taste of India this last Friday (I definitely thought about it plenty). Instead I got to try the lovely Cafe Coco, a Vietnamese restaurant based in Hackney.

Let me preface: I was meeting a friend for dinner whom I hadn’t seen for a little while. Wanting to avoid the abundance of Italian or British restaurants that populated the surrounding area of her work place, we decided to go for Vietnamese food. My friend had yet to try it, and I always love Asian food – especially Vietnamese, I find it’s flavours can be so much lighter in comparison to its neighbouring countries – makes me feel healthy!

Why Cafe Coco? There are plenty of Vietnamese restaurants nestled together a little deeper into Hackney, but I wanted to make use of my Tastecard trial! Ergo, Cafe Coco.

It’s a small, glass-faced restaurant located down a fairly quiet street – more residential than commercial, but close to Bethnal Green tube station, as well as several bus routes. Once inside you are met with a couple rows of booth-type tables, the restaurant itself was reasonably quite (only half full), and we were quickly seated.

Like most cuisines, I can be a bit of creature of habit when it comes to ordering. I tend to stay loyal to a dish if I really enjoy it, and unfortunately don’t possess a large enough stomach to be able to order my favourites and try something new.

For our warm-up, we ordered a couple starters – papaya salad and summer rolls. I know, papaya salad is perhaps more Thai than it is Vietnamese, but it’s a great light and healthy starter, and it goes really well with summer rolls (also being of a light and healthy nature). We opted for Prawn and Pork summer rolls, rather than Tofu, as hey, they’re much more flavourful.

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Both starters were delicious and light, although I can’t say much for the Prawn crackers. I know, I feel offended seeing them on the plate too.

For mains, I chose Pho. I always choose Pho, with rare beef is a must! It’s my go to Vietnamese dish, it leaves me satisfied every time. Especially as the weather is turning colder, it feels like the perfect dish to scare away those winter (okay, autumn) chills.

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Really tender beef, but the soup was a little oily. I’m super pleased that they remembered the garnishes!

My friend however, was a little apprehensive about tackling a noodle soup, and sought familiarity ordering a curry. A lemongrass and coconut affair, I firmly approved of her Beef curry!

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Somehow, miraculously, we both managed to fit in dessert (I think by chatting away the evening we managed to build up an appetite for something sweet, or at least found our second ‘dessert’ bellies!)

The Chinese in me longed for a Mango Sago pudding, which they had added both mango, and lychee jelly pieces.

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My friend chose the stodgier Banana fritters with Ice cream.

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All in all, the service was friendly, and the meal was definitely satisfying! However, not being within walking distance of much really lets this restaurant down. If you can be bothered, we did bus towards Shoreditch for drinks, but otherwise there’s little in the surrounding area (Childhood museum anyone?).The Tastecard brought our bill down to a measly £20, certainly making Cafe Coco a healthy and affordable dinner choice!

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