Wednesday, 26 October 2011
City Caphe, Bank
I've just been in Japan for a fortnight and I really didn't want to leave.
But when I was on the plane back to Blighty, I decided to count my blessings, one of which is a little Vietnamese cafe near my office called City Caphe.
Open only at lunchtimes, I've got through many a long morning at my desk by day-dreaming about City Caphe's food.
The day-dreaming continues as I wait in their queue which stretches out the door - it's a dratted constant, but it's worth standing there, even in the rain.
Sometimes I press my nose against the window, Charlie Bucket-like, to stare at the gorgeous steaming dishes that others are already enjoying.
The queue continues to wind inside, but rather charmingly, they have a selection of books for the hungry punters to pass the time.
I'm not a bread person, but even I adore City Caphe's banh mi, and their summer rolls are the best I've had (apart from my own) - packed with prawns and herbs, though there's a tofu version for the vegetarians.
They have tubs of fabulously zingy papaya and mango salad which cost about £3 - I always pick one up from the shelves as I wait to be served.
Their pho is wonderful too - delicious broth which is somehow delicate yet punchy at the same time.
My only quibble is I want more greenery, more bumf to scatter on top - you get a little plastic bag containing a lime wedge, some chilli rings and a a few choice leaves, but this isn't enough to satisfy my lust for foliage.
By far my favourite dish is their bun bo hue - a vibrant, spicy, meaty beef and pork lemongrass broth with fat, round rice noodles.
I invariably order this, with extra napkins as I almost always manage to splatter myself.
However, it was City Caphe's first birthday recently, and they celebrated by having a week of specials - one of which comfortably toppled bun bo hue as my beloved.
Pleasingly, it was a dish which I asked them to make as I'd never had it before (the lovely lady in charge is Julie Vu and she's on twitter as @CityCaphe and asked for suggestions) - bun rieu cua - crab noodle heaven.
If I wish very hard, they might make it again, but alas it won't become a regular item on their menu (I am wishing very hard right now).
I've been comforted and excited though to find out that City Caphe have decided to do a couple of special one-off nights to show off their repertoire.
A collaboration with L'Amant Dining, the people behind Banh Mi 11, on Thursday 3rd and Saturday 5th November, they will be feeding some lucky people a frankly fantastic-sounding menu.
I've booked to go on the 3rd - hopefully I'll see some of you there.
17 Ironmonger Lane
Open weekdays 11.30am to 4.00pm
Book their 3rd and 5th November supperclub here