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All Tomorrow's Parties and Sông Quê (Review)


The other day, my husband and I went to a preview screening of my new film All Tomorrow's Parties. I say "my film", of course what I actually mean is a film to which I've been lucky enough to contribute.

This is how it describes itself:


FEATURING: Belle And Sebastian / Sonic Youth / Battles / Portishead / Daniel Johnston / David Cross / Animal Collective / The Boredoms / Mogwai / Slint / The Dirty Three / The Gossip / GZA / Iggy Pop / A Hawk And A Hacksaw / Saul Williams / Shellac / Patti Smith / John Cooper Clark / The Mars Volta ...

Coming November 2009 from Warp Films [who made This is England], produced by Luke Morris / Warp X

ATP premiere

In an out-of-season holiday camp on the coast of England, alternative music festival All Tomorrow’s Parties serves up a heady combination of alternative music, crazy golf and chalet-living; all curated by a single band or artist. This post-punk DIY bricolage uses material generated by the fans and musicians themselves, on a multitude of formats and over the history of ATP, to capture the uncompromising spirit of a parallel music universe.

All Tomorrow’s Parties was created by All Tomorrow’s People and Jonathan Caouette."

Me, I'm an All Tomorrow's Person. In the words of the mighty REM, that's me in the corner:


The bit I shot was Battles performing Atlas and, rather excitingly, this was used for the opening sequence.

Anyway, the screening was held at the Fleapit pub on Columbia Road, so hubby and I decided to wander down the Phở Mile nearby in search of sustenance.

Now, I'm the type of person who can't go in a restaurant till she's had a good look at what's on offer beforehand. So I drag my husband to read the menu plastered in the window of the first place we come across and say, half to myself, "Interesting". Then I drag him to the next.

It's not till we've got to about the sixth establishment that my poor husband twigs and says weakly, "There are rather a lot of Vietnamese restaurants in this area, aren't there?".

I ignore him as I'm busy trying to remember if the salt and pepper quail was more expensive at the fourth place or the second, and which place it was that offered tendon as well as flank.


I'm almost sold when I see that Miền Tây has been visited by Chow Yun Fat. Chow Yun Fat!

There he beams in the window, one arm around the owner's shoulder, the other hand with thumb aloft. YES!

Underneath is a photo of another Oriental star, one I don't recognise, and I notice she's striking the exact same pose. It's a winner, no mistake (photo evidence courtesy of bellaphon).

But then I see that the menu is written entirely in bland English ("beef noodle soup", "chicken noodle soup") and I see this as a bad sign, so I continue to drag poor husband down the street.

In the end, I settle on Sông Quê because (a) I've been here before and I remember liking it, and (b) there's about 20 combinations of
phở available.


As soon as we enter, a waiter rushes up to us, eye a-twitching, and announces "I'm not sure we can squeeze you in and, even if you eat here, you can only stay till 8". Whatevs man, we need to be somewhere else later anyway.

We sit at a tiny, paper-covered table, dwarfed by a precarious rack of vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce and chilli. Another couple wafts in and gets the same spiel from Twitch-Eye before sitting down at the next table but one.


We order some drinks and then hubby orders bun cha gio thit nuong (noodles with pork and spring rolls), I order phở with the works ie rare steak, well-done flank, tendon and tripe, and we ask for that salt and pepper quail and some gỏi cuốn (summer rolls) to start. Then we wait.

A little later, the couple near us make their order. My eye begins to twitch when their food arrives before we've even had a drop to drink. It twitches again when a waiter swipes the condiment rack off our table and places it on theirs with a flourish. The couple tuck in with gusto whilst I look daggers at them.

Suddenly two Hoxtonites with over-styled hair appear, wedge themselves between us and the other couple and mash their table against theirs. I'm perplexed, but it turns out they're friends and the four have in fact sly-ed their way into a group meal. A waiter rushes over and tells them off for not booking.

I'm silently impressed at how the first couple even began eating before their mates turned up to make it look like it was just the two of them.


Thankfully, at this point both our drinks and starters make an appearance. The quail has been grilled so it's perfectly moist and gnawable (we use our hands, natch) and the zingy salt, pepper and lime dip is a brilliant foil for the sweet meat. The gỏi cuốn are also good - although loaded with too many rice noodles, the prawns are fresh and plump, the mint is zingy and the dip is peanutty heaven.

Sadly our enjoyment is dampened by the braying of the foursome beside us.

"Have you seen you know, that TV programme with the woman with the teeth? And there's a guy with the hair too."

"Oh yeah, that one, that's brilliant, that is."

"And what about the one with the guy who's a doctor but he's a writer? You know, and there's that guy with the hair. And there's that other guy who's great and he's the boss in a different programme with the guy with the hair, but in this one he's also a doctor. And there's the woman with the hair too. That's amazing, that is. It's called, what, Dark Matter? Dark Night?"

"Darkplace", I cough into my napkin but they remain oblivious.


Our mains arrive then: the bun cha is enormous, with a clump of thin rice noodles covered in barbecue pork and cucumber slivers and a generous wodge of spring roll, plus crispy fried onions and a not entirely pleasant scattering of sugared shrimp floss.

The nước chấm dipping sauce is lovely though, a fine balance of sweet and salty, and hubby liberally douses everything with it.

My phở is equally huge and comes steaming hot with garnishes of sliced chillis and onions, beansprouts, Thai basil, saw-leaf, coriander and lime wedge.

There's lots of tender beef, unctuous tendon and tripe, and the broth is so deep, rich and fragrant that there's no need for me to add sriracha or hoisin (although a waiter does grab the condiment rack back for us).


Despite its size, I soon find myself staring at the bottom of the bowl. Hubby fails to finish though; the claggy shrimp sprinkle is getting him down.

Sated, I wander off downstairs to find the ladies, only to be confronted by a dark, desolate basement with shelves solely stacked with row after row of unidentifiable bottles. I try not to ponder their contents and get on with business.

When I return, the deploresome foursome have vanished and I do a little fist-pump in the air. Hubby is happily slurping down a sugar-laden iced Vietnamese coffee. All is right with the world.


Sông Quê, eh?

While the atmosphere is harried, the company decidely lacking and the decor not much to speak of (except for some massive plastic lobsters), the food is good enough and cheap enough that I'll surely be back.

As for the film? It was awesome, of course ...

Sông Quê
134 Kingsland Rd
Shoreditch E2 8DY
020 7613 3222

Song Que on Urbanspoon


Food Urchin said…
Hmm Sông Quê, lousy decor and service with suspected toxic waste stored in the basement (let's not go into the state of the toilets) but the food IS good. I've been there loads of time now.
chumbles said…
Wow, your posts are so good, they bring me alive even at 7.30 in the morning. One thing I find odd is the "Hoxtonites" bit - my family are five generations at least (to back before 1830) from Shoreditch, St Pauls and Hoxton and only moved away in the 1950s - you'll be glad to know that real Eastenders don't talk such rubbish. My Mum would be spitting blood at the thought!
meemalee said…
@Food Urchin - Yeah, sometimes good grub is worth putting up with a whole lot of other hassle :)

@chumbles - Thank you! As for Hoxtonite - I sincerely apologise - I am not referring to genuine locals such as your family, but rather the modern breed epitomized by Nathan Barley. I've added a link above to clarify :)
Graham said…
wow, big food...

Actually, that all looks pretty good and better than most vinanosh in the Uk that I've come across.

I seem to remember Mr. Chopstix recommended me Song Que too, along with a small place, less frequented further up the road. However, when i went I insisted on trying some other overpriced place which was a bit less than impressive. So much so I just could not be arsed to blog about it.

I did take some snaps though:
Kavey said…
Yum! Fun post, loving the reports on service and other guests.

Congrats on the film, btw!
gastrogeek said…
WOW - what a mighty post, Meemalee! Incorporating many, indeed if not all of my favourite things, ATP, Vietnamese food, Battles, Garth M and your scathing wit! I had a minor row with a waiter in Song Que about a year ago over the pace of service and haven't been back since,best if I don't go into it here -but anyway, your food looked great. Dark matter??? Who are these bloody jokers.

P.S. I've just noticed a Google ad on your page for "an extensive range of resin figures, inc. cowboys, pirate and animals". M Sweet Jesus woman what on earth are you writing about to merit such things???!
Mr Noodles said…
I must try the quail next time ! If you can, go for lunch as its a lot less stressful i.e. you won't have to share your table with the Hoxton hairbunch !
meemalee said…
@Graham - Yay, a visit from the Pieman himself! Qui est Mr Chopstix?

@Kavey - Thank you :)

@Gastrogeek - You love it. Also, I saw that Google ad and it scared me.

@Mr Noodles - It added an element of adventure to the whole experience.