Cay Tre Soho and flatmate dates.

On Tuesday evening my flatmates and I had a date. It’s easy when you live with people to just assume that you are seeing them and not make an effort to spend actual time with them. On nights when I am home I’m often knackered, and now writing, so they tend to get grumpy uncommunicative me, rather than the sparkly (metaphorical, never physical) me that frequents restaurants. So we made a date and went out. After re-reading our Cambodia and Laos diaries the other night we decided on Vietnamese food (near as damn it) and I suggested Cay Tre in Soho.

Cay Tre Soho

The restaurant is long and narrow, with windows only at the front, making it a bit of a gloomy place to spend a sunny evening. This isn’t helped by the dark ceiling, which flatmate 1 said made her feel claustrophobic. Also, for the first 20 minutes or so they kept playing with the lighting, changing it from a soft romantic glow to a bright neon light, and back again. It was rather distracting. Otherwise the service was very good, if a little unhelpful. I asked one waiter what he would recommend and he said everything. Helpful.

I arrived before my flatmates and, after, studying the cocktail list for far too long, asked Twitter for help in choosing. They suggested every cocktail apart from the one I eventually ordered, a Hanoi Bling (£6.50, lychees, lemon, gin, Cointreau, delicious). I am nothing if not contrary. When the other two arrived we worked through the menu. I as per usual wanted everything. Luckily our choices were narrowed down somewhat by flatmate 2’s nut allergy, and disgust of fruit and mushrooms. We chose 6 dishes, and asked the waiter if this was enough. He said it depended on how much we eat. Like I said, helpful.

The dishes arrived as and when they were ready. First up was shrimp summer rolls (£5). The prawns were juicy, the salad crisp and fresh, and the dipping sauce, plum with a swirl of chili, a perfect blend of sweet and spicy. Next was my meal highlight, a Vietnamese beef salad (£8.50), made with lemongrass rubbed, lightly cooked, meat, sweet fried onions and peppers and lots of coriander. The duck stuffed Brixham squid was tasty (£6.50), although perhaps not particularly Vietnamese (but let’s be honest, I’ve never even been to the country so who am I am to judge?) as were the very crispy meat-filled wantons (£5.75). Less successful were the greasy soft shell crab (£8.50) and sweet potato and shrimp fritters (£6.50). The batter on both overwhelmed the flavour of the seafood which was a shame, as from what I could tell, both were very fresh.

Summer rolls at Cay Tre SohoVietnamese beef salad at Cay Tre SohoSoft shell crab at Cay Tre Soho

The portions were all medium sized, as popularized by Polpo, and I personally thought they were all pretty good value. Flatmate 2 thought they made it awkward for sharing though – too big to just order everything you fancy as you would with tapas. Some of the food was really delicious, and I think we perhaps just ordered too much of fried stuff, which is not what you really want from Vietnamese. We all agreed we would come back, just perhaps not in a rush.

Cay Tre Soho on Urbanspoon

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