Tasty but inauthentic Vietnamese in East London


Rating: 8/10

Address: 134 Kingsland Road, Shoreditch, London, E2 8DY

Tube: Hoxton (Overground)

Hours: Mon–Fri 12:00-15:00, 17:30–23:00;
Sat& Sun: 12:30-23:00

average price per person: £10-15

Official Website

By Lei He

Song Que is a restaurant on the Kingsland Road in East London. Londoners enjoy tasting the ‘authentic’ Vietnamese cuisine, despite the majority being slightly awkward using chopsticks.

“It’s a local hang-out for the London posse, with nice food and low prices: it’s very complete,” says Henry Grant, a frequent eater in Song Que.

Variety is the spice of life

With an average price of £10-15 per person, there are a huge variety of dishes available – 150 of them in fact. Hot and spicy flank beef and lean pork paste noodle soup will cost you £7.80, or Spring rolls and grilled pork with rice vermicelli will set you back £7.20 – the prices are fairly typical for this part of East London.

The food featured in Song Que is quite spicy, its taste similar to that of Thai food.

‘Authentic’ Londoners may complain that the portions are too big and perhaps “a little bit greasy,” as suggested by frequent diner Andrew Mckengie, “But I guess it’s fairly authentic, because there are so many restaurants around here, and this is considered the best.”

But is it authentic?

The food and tools are so different from Western dishes that customers may be led to believe that this is authentic Vietnamese cuisine. It is opened by Vietnamese owners, located in an area with many other Vietnamese restaurants and you are served by Vietnamese guys… there seems to be no reason to question its authenticity.

However, a waiter of the restaurant secretly informed us that the same

thing would taste much better in Vietnam, since the ingredients would be fresher. “Only half of the dishes can be considered as ‘authentic’ Vietnamese,” they said, and the rest have been modified to cater to the British palate.

The owner of the restaurant, Anh Pham, is also the head chef of the restaurant. But she had never been a professional cook before she opened Song Que 11 years ago. This is what many oriental restaurants do.

“How are you finding the British food?” asked Andrew’s wife, Rachel. On hearing our negative answers, she laughed: “That’s why we have to turn to other countries’ food.” Authentic or not, Song Que is tasty enough to keep more adventurous British tastes satisfied.