Ok, the decor is beyond cheesy and the music is very '70's American supermarket'… But this place is the daddy of all Vietnamese restaurants. The menu is pretty large with lots of different choices, with a huge selection of starters and mains. Mien Tay is a family run establishment. Their first branch is located on Kingsland Road in Shoreditch and chosen as one Gordon Ramsay's 'Best Local Restaurants' in the January aired episode of F-Word, they deserve every ounce of press they get as the food is still good old fashioned home cooking, that is clean, authentic, cheap and 100% delicious.
We begin with the Mien Tay spring rolls that are simply put, incredible with a crispy, crunchy white rice wafer thing wrapping (not like your average spring roll) with a filling of crunchy vegetables, peanuts, ground pork and prawns served with a gently spiced and sweet Nuoc Cham sauce. The papaya salad with spicy dried beef is also absolutely superb along with salt and pepper garlic squid.
We ordered several mains (way too many, as it turns out) including beef with paper thin (and slightly tricky) rice paper wraps, which are a spicy, lemongrass infused mixture of minced beef with thin sticky rice paper sheets and assorted herbs and vegetables so you can make your own rolls. A whole seabass deep fried topped with chilli, garlic and coriander is moist and delicate in flavour. Some Chinese-style crispy fried seafood noodles follow, which were nice but couldnt remotely touch the fabulousness authentic Vietnamese dishes on offer, so my bad for choosing them!
The two of us scanned the room and discreetly looked at all the other diners in the restaurant, mulling over single bowls of food which made us laugh. With so much top-notch food on offer at such incredibly low prices, how on earth do you just order a single dish each? Maybe they are those "Eat to live" types I've heard about but didn't ever think actually existed. Strange breed of people, I think. Ok, you don't have to go into overkill mode either but life is for living, flavours and cultures are for exploring. Every time I go to a new restaurant, I want to enter as a student and leave as a master; having experienced new flavours, new dishes and unfamiliar and exciting textures and tastes.
After all we ate, I thought the bill would probably come to around 70 quid, but no… I gasped to see it came to just 40! What a total bargain. If anything, it gives you EVEN more reason to eat here. The staff are lovely, the service is great… I don't live near Battersea, but nothing will stop me from coming back to this fabulous little gem of a Vietnamese restaurant… It beats all the Kingsland Road Vietnamese eateries, 100 times over. It is absolutely the best Vietnamese food I have ever had in my life and I urge you to try it for yourself!
180 Lavender Hill, London SW11 5TQ
Tel: 020 7350 0721