The best Vietnamese on Kingsland Road?
Sadly, as any long-suffering allergy sufferer's friend will tell you, life just isn't that simple. Especially when your waiter's poor grasp of English means he can't work out whether you're saying you WANT fish in your vegetarian meal, or it will kill you. As a result, despite him eventually checking with the kitchen, my friend ate her meal holding the chopsticks in one hand and her epi pen in the other.
Surviving a meal is one of the main signs that a meal was a success. Kudos Mien Tay. But there were lots of other signs. My incredible quail, for example, bought on the advice of a Metro review that said that "If you only eat one dish this year, make it the starter of grilled quail at Mien Tay". Now, I don't much fancy only eating one meal for a whole year, especially a meal with as little meat on it as quail, but goodness me it was tasty. Hotter than the fires of hell, I barely blinked as my fingers blistered - all I wanted to do was get my teeth into every tiny fold of skin for the gorgeous marinade of chilli, honey, garlic and spices, which I'd coated in the lime and salt that the quail came with. Almost like a quail slammer. it was the tidiest, most delicious plate I've had in a while.
At £6 I could have drained my Saigon beer and left happy then. Perhaps I should have, because comparatively my duck in ginger and spring onions was a disappointment. It had about as much gingery tang as glass of milk, amd the egg fried rice had a more addictive flavour. But my friend's deep-fried tofu with chilli and lemongrass was delicious - crispy, slightly sweet, slightly salty and probably distressingly good for you. And all this came to a measly £33, with no deaths.
Pick the right things, and you might survive. Also, you may find this is the best Vietnamese restaurant you've ever been to.