Kêu the restaurant has followed its East London sibling’s template to a tee
You know what you get when you head to East London nowadays. Long gone are the abandoned printing shops and hard to find but very cool pubs. Now you get fantasy inspired cocktail bars, IT guys pretending they’re in the Silicon Valley, and people with bikes and / or beards.
Just as Notting Hill went from hipsterville to be became the playground for the rich who weren’t conservative enough for Chiswick. Shoreditch has gone from hipsterville to a playground for the rich who aren’t cool enough for Dalston , Haggerston or Kings Cross.
Fortunately the monied crowd haven’t priced out the original street food vendors. In fact one cuisine that’s thrived on the new influx has been Vietnamese. Originally a stalwart of the Kingsland Road (in the same way that Jewish and then Bengali food was to Brick Lane), the French-Asian fusion has come from nowhere to be nearly as familiar and definitely as popular for local palates as Thai or Korean.
One of the original Vietnamese haunts, Banh Mi deli Kêu from Hieu Bui, now has a second place in the heart of Soho. Casual in a sandwich bar way, and with a no-booking policy, Kêu Soho offers the same simple and cheap, highly fragrant, with good ingredients that have made the Shoreditch place so successful
We loved the freshness of the summer rolls (Goi Cuon / green papaya, sweet prawns, peanut hoisin sauce) although it was served cold bordering on chilled. The Banh Mi Kêu classic of mortadella, pork floss (whatever that is), chicken liver pâté, spiced and pork belly ham terrine was quite punchy. The beef dumplings were very moreish and the rice bowls were pleasingly light and flavoursome. The beef noodle bowl was delicious. We didn’t try the buns as it didn’t feel like a dinner dish. We did have dessert – the Bean Trio ch, which was mung beans, white black-eyed pease, red azuki beans with coconut milk. I have often struggled with South East Asian desserts and this wasn’t going to change my mind. It would have been better to have a bowl of fresh fruit.
One thing to add about the service. I’d read terrible reviews about the surliness of the waiting staff, which was completely different to my experience. Our waiter couldn’t have been more charming. Even if he did compare my newish beard to Paul Hollywood’s.
But I’m not an East London hipster and for that matter, neither is Kêu. But Kêu the restaurant has followed its East London sibling’s template to a tee, by serving very good food for a very good price. You know what you get when you go to Kêu.
On a scale of * to *****
Wining and dining ***
Serving and pouring **1/2
Boozing and schmoozing **1/2
Address: 9 Poland Street, London W1F 8PY