Hoa Phuong – London Hampton Street (off Walworth Road)

I had a spontaneous moment where I wanted to try out a newish place which I had seen whilst on the bus heading towards Elephant and Castle many months back (can’t remember how long it’s been open now). This Vietnamese takeaway called Hoa Phuong (which I think is a type of red flower found in Vietnam) is hard to spot if you don’t look out the window on the left hand side whilst going pass Dragon Castle. This takeaway shop used to be a Chinese takeaway which unfortunately I didn’t try out in the past.

Had a quick look at the menu online but that needs updating because when I looked on the blackboard inside the shop they had some extras. 

They even have some seating! 

I was greeted by an old Vietnamese lady whose English is not the greatest but I could understand. I made my order and then sat there for a while (about 15 to 20 minutes because I ordered a bit) for my food to be made. I don’t think everything is pre-made… Took a few pictures in the meantime.

Finally my food was ready. I was very hungry and wanted to get home before everything got cold. Thankfully I know the backstreets and took the shortcut home.
This is the food I ordered.

The noodles (not pho, they’re called bun) were not in the soup… I was thinking where are those white noodles… they were hidden underneath the fishcake! ^_^ This is actually the second time I’ve seen a restaurant / takeaway separate the noodles from the rest of the ingredients. Cool!

I asked for spicy beef noodles which is why my soup looks dark as some chilli oil was added. This is a different version of Vietnamese noodles as I read on Wiki. It comes from Central Vietnam. The one we’re used to seeing is pho which has a sweeter broth and flatter, thinner noodles. Inside the soup there’s a lot of sliced beef. You will need to dig in to see it. Quite amazed at how much beef was given. 

I added the bun, fishcakes and lettuce and started eating. The soup is good stuff, a little spicy, not too sweet and is full of flavour. It’s not too beefy but it had a lot of herbs. The greatest thing about this is that I was never given any coriander and no coriander (I believe) was added to the soup or box of ingredients. So cool!! I love this place already. ^_^ Instead there was some lemongrass and a lot of chopped up lettuce.

The bun was brilliant too. It was no flat rice noodles, it was thin round noodles which I haven’t seen before. Thick and filling.

Next I started on the grilled pork rolls (goi cuon). A tub of sweet chilli runny sauce is given.

These were amazing. The grilled pork reminded me of Chinese bbq pork without the sweet taste. This type of summer roll is brilliant. I need to know how to make these. ¬,¬””

Finally I had a dessert. Che Mixed Bean. There were chick peas, red beans, clear noodles and green noodles. There was a separate bag of sweet white coconut milk. Be warned: these desserts are very sweet, I think my teeth wanted a clean brushover afterwards as it was too much for my them. >_<"

Total cost came to £11.50 although I calculated it to be £11.70 as the blackboard stated the dessert was an extra 20 pence from its original price. Nevermind, didn’t want to argue. It’s cheap, and I enjoyed the food. 
My geeky rating: 5/5
Good points:
– Cheap food!
– Ingredients separated from the soup and there’s lots of ingredients included!
– Love the rolls
– Polite service
– There are small seating areas in case you have nowhere else to eat
Bad points:
– Had to wait a while for the food as there’s only one person serving and cooking (at that time)
Address: 4 Hampton Street, London SE1 6SN
Tel: 07832 999573 or 07776 508 125
Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday 12pm to 2pm and 5pm to 9pm

Viet Eat – London Holborn

I’ve started eating in the Holborn area. Reason: I’m taking Japanese classes in the area, and after class I become very hungry!! So the only option is to eat. ^_^ Heheheh.
I’ve been pass Viet Eat for a bit now. Not sure how long it’s been there but I do like a good pho if I can find a place that sells it. 😀
Outside Viet Eat
So obviously I ordered a Vietnamese cold coffee. This was really sweet. Wish I had a bigger glass too. I’ve had better Vietnamese coffee though.
Cold Vietnamese coffee
And it was obvious that I would go for the beef pho right. I always pronounce pho as “fo” that rhymes with “ho”, but I hear people say “fa” or “for” with a silent r. Vietnamese pronunciation is hard.
Beef pho
Well there was a lot of flat rice noodles (but I like the thinner flat noodles!). The soup base was kind of salty, not like the sweet taste I had in Camberwell or the one I had in Paris. There was a lot of coriander but it didn’t taste much of it which was a relief. The main disappointment was the tender beef. They used the slightly harder beef which is not the bit I like in beef pho. I like the really, really chewy tender beef.
Beef pho with a plate of garnish
I did eat the lot but felt slightly disappointed. Looks like I’ll be going back to the South of London for more pho. XD
Total cost came to £12.43 including a 12.5% service charge. I feel like I’ve been cheated in eating a very expensive bowl of pho.
My geeky rating: 3.5/5
Good points:
– Friendly service
– Like the seating arrangements – feels like a proper noodle bar, and they have seating outside too!
Bad points:
– A bit expensive for some one bowl of noodles!
– The soup base and beef was so-so
– I hate service charge
Address: 48 Kingsway, London WC2B 6EP
Telephone: 020 7404 4138

Van Hing – London Camberwell

I’ve been pass this restaurant for so many years whilst on my way to Peckham, Catford or elsewhere, and this is the first time I have dined in this place. It’s just one of those places that gets missed out because of again bad reputation or just not in plane sight from the public (well it’s pretty much on the main road, so you can’t miss it really!).
At the point I went in, I think they had just opened, there were no customers at all. Is Vietnamese food dying out in the South East of London? I don’t think it is. I looked at people on the bus, and hardly anyone was looking in… Too bad, they’re missing out! I was the only customer guys until I left!
Van Hing 文興 in Cantonese is called Man Hing. There is no actual meaning to it, so I guess it’s probably a person’s name. It literally means “culture interest”.
Outside Van Hing
Inside an empty restaurant at lunch time 😦
From the Internet, I had already viewed the menu, and I already knew what I wanted to eat…
I asked for a Cold Vietnamese Coffee, it is one of my favourite types of coffees in the world because it’s sweet from the condensed milk they use and the coffee is blended and filtered nicely. I really enjoyed this one.
Cold Vietnamese coffee
The next thing I ordered was this Vegetarian pancake. I was thinking it was going to be small, but no it was quite massive! It was broken at the back though, which I was being polite and not taking a picture of that part. Apart from the pancake, I was also given a lot of salad! Woah. I did not expect that.
Banh Xeo Chay (Vegetarian Crispy Pancakes)
Next I had a beef pho. Thankfully I had no breakfast otherwise I don’t think I would’ve finished the whole lot…
Spices, beansprouts and coriander to add to the pho
The soup was nice and light but there wasn’t enough beefiness in it. I’m actually quite happy with this as well as the chef (the owner plus waiter) didn’t add too much coriander into it. Phew. I really don’t like coriander.
I think I had two different cuts of beef. One lot was soft and chewy, and the other lot was soft and tough. Not sure which parts I had…
Pho Bo Tai Chin
Thick pho
Total cost came to £13.50. Not bad!
It wasn’t a bad experience. The owner who is Vietnamese got to chat with me for a little in Cantonese asking about my background, and I just said I was born in London and I have passed your restaurant for many years and wanted to try it out… He looks a bit rough, but I think he’s a nice person… Kept sneezing a lot whilst making my food (he had the back door open!), heheh, just like my dad when he’s cooking!! It was definitely cold that day!
My geeky rating: 4.5/5
Good points: 
– Cheap Vietnamese food, quite a big portion too
– Quiet place to eat lunch!
– Nice Vietnamese coffee… ^_^
Bad points
– A bit of a slow business since there were no customers around until after I left
Address: 42 Camberwell Church Street, London SE5 8QZ
Telephone: 020 7703 9707

aobaba in Longdan Express – Elephant and Castle

I am being a lazy blogger… I’m playing Candy Crush and I’m on level 117… I hate this game by the way. It becomes frustrating when you’ve almost finished a level and then you don’t have any more moves left!

Er… uh-hm, what? Oh. Am I supposed to be talking about aobaba? The cafe / restaurant that has FINALLY opened in Longdan Express. Uh well yes I am!! Whoopee!! ^_^
Outside aobaba

Inside aobaba

Another view

The leaflet

The other side
So last Friday after work I went to have a look at it. I was dying to have a taste at their bubble tea, and see if it is good enough as those other places that serve bubble tea. It’s funny how bubble tea has become so famous in the UK all of a sudden. You can see shops of them all over the place i.e. China Town…

In aobaba they give you a choice of making your own mixture of bubble tea. So you choose the type of tea you want milk (which is 50p more than the other tea base) or black tea / green tea / crushed ice. Then next you choose are the type of bubbles you want in the tea… tapioca pearl, boba or jelly.

The first one I went for was the green apple tea (don’t know if it was green or black tea used), and the girl at the counter suggested I choose the lychee topping (can’t remember if it was tapioca pearl or the boba). The green apple tea tasted sour. Yeek. But the lychee topping compensated for the sourness. If you like sour stuff, go for the green apple flavour!!
Green apple tea and lychee bubble tea
aobaba also serves food. Woohoo! 😀 So I also asked the girl what to have… She recommended the spring rolls, and I found myself ordering the mix and match spring rolls. They were good. But expensive at £4. 😦
My mix and match spring ro

Total cost: £7

After you have ordered, they will call out your receipt number so you can collect your food. It’s a bit like going to Argos! Hah!

I went back the next day to try out there pho.
Another view from the inside
It was a good day because it rained, and I was sure that this would warm me up for a bit. I had taken the leaflet that I was given. I was contemplating whether to have the beef pho or the OMG-bun than… I was thinking I would go for the latter but subconsciously ordered the beef pho! What was I thinking?! I also ordered the strawberry milk tea with strawberry pearls… Was it good?
Strawberry milk and strawberry pearls bubble tea

Hm, the beef pho’s soup was a little salty to my liking. The pho was ok. There was thinly sliced beef and beef balls (they are like fishballs).The sliced beef was ok, but not as tender as the one I had in Dallas or Cafe Mama Pho. I could taste and smell some of the herbs that were in which was bearable…
Beef pho

A different view of my beef pho

The best part of this dining trip was definitely the strawberry milk bubble tea! Oh it was definitely tasty than the apple green tea! I would definitely recommend all the milk bubble teas (I haven’t tried them all yet ¬,¬”). They are the best!

Total cost: £10.50

I dined alone on both occasions, and so did a lot of people who went in there. Some were in groups too. It is a big dining area, but the bins in purple are quite hard to see. I actually left my tray on the table on both occasions because I did not know where to put them! Some people were handing them back to the people at the counter… Something that needs to be improved on in time…

Would I recommend aobaba? Yes – definitely for the bubble tea. I think I will need to try out the other food in the nearest future.

I forgot to mention there is also free wi-fi!! After purchasing your food, you will find a password (which changes everyday) on the bottom of your receipt. I used it twice on both occasions, and the reception is not bad…

My geeky rating: 4/5

Good points:
– Get to choose your own mixture of bubble tea
– Food is freshly made for you
– Dining area is really spacious
Free wi-fi

Bad points:
– A little expensive
– Could do with some visible bins
Salty soup (recipe change needed)

Address: 128 -132 Walworth Road, Elephant & Castle, London SE17 1JL 
Website: http://www.aobaba.com/

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Longdan Express Oriental Supermarket – London Elephant and Castle

Anybody living in South East London (along the lines of Elephant and Castle)? If you do, you may have noticed an Asian store that was being renovated for a few months, and you may have been thinking when will this place be opened. Well, the store opened two days ago (January 21st) underneath a block of student flats that has replaced a gas station which once had a drive-in Burger King. Ah, no more Burger King. (I only went in there once!).

Longdan is a Vietnamese run chain store. From their UK website it looks as if this is one out of four stores running in the South East area of the UK so far. I think this might also be smaller than the other stores, but it’s bigger than some of the other Asian stores around the area.
Longdan Express Oriental Supermarket

Opened on 21st Jan 2013

The Entrance and there’s a cafe called “aobaba” – not set up yet I think…

A look from the outside

The hot food section – doesn’t look ready yet

Well on the outside it doesn’t look big, but when you go inside, it feels big!! 

There are a few long aisles… 
This is what you see when you go in!

The cookery utensil section at the back of the store

A look from the other end

A lot of frozen sections…

Ready meals and desserts!

Lots of stuff ^^

More frozen stuff

There are some chilled sections (I forgot to take pictures of them!). They have some Japanese sushi, Korean kimbap, Korean pancakes and a lot of other stuff! And here’s the drink section…

A Japanese / Korean frozen food section (there’s also a dry food section that sells other stuff like miso paste, sushi rice wine etc, etc)…

Japanese and Korean frozen foods

Vegetable section

Cookery utensils…


Awesome cookery stuff ^^

Other stuff…

Cute sweets!

Vietnamese bread

And the most important section for me is the BENTO BOX section!! (I think Japan Centre have met their competition here in London!!).

Yeeeeah!!! Bento Boxes (lunch boxes)!!! 

Ordinary lunch boxes

Loads of Bento Boxes and utensils!!!!!!!
Here’s my purchases from yesterday. It was £9.35 for everything. The bento box cost £3.90. The pot noodle pho is 70p. The dried shrimp cost £2.45, and the fishballs cost £2.30.

My first purchase

I went in there again today to purchase some more things, and also to have a proper look at their frozen section. They have one of my favourite Japanese foods – takoyaki (fried octopus balls), which I tried out last year! (It was buy one get one free, but I didn’t get the free one because I bought the last bag). They even have Korean dumplings (I have always wanted to try them)!!! Here I spent over £22 (because I bought a couple more lunchboxes for a friend in Canada)!!

My second purchase
A closer look of the other bento boxes that I will be sending to Canada! ^_^ (sorry for the flash bit – too lazy to take another pic!)
Longdan is a little expensive compared to other Asian stores in the area and of course in comparison to London China Town. So I guess you should compare prices before buying. They don’t sell some of the Chinese foods that I like, and they don’t sell Nissin noodles, 😦 (they do now) but I don’t mind the bento box section – as it’s in my price range! ^_^.

So overall, I will still be going to other local Asian stores but I will definitely go to Longdan for some of the frozen foods!

Address: 128-132 Walworth Road, London SE17 1JL
Telephone: 020 7701 2566

Opening times: Monday – Saturday 10am -10pm, and Sunday + Bank Holidays: 11am – 8pm

Other stores are located in: Leyton, Kingston and Shoreditch

Update 25/01/2013

There’s more stuff! More bakery stuff! More chilled foods! And I found beef flavoured mandu!! ^_^

Update 02/02/2013
Well I finally got some more pictures of the chilled section… 

They sell tofu dessert too!! ^^

Big selection of chilled foods!!

And some of the food I bought…

Korean “sushi” called maki

Korean savoury pancakes – pajeon

Japanese Takoyaki balls (Octopus balls)

Update 01/04/2013 (not an April Fools joke!)
The cafe is now open!!! Passed it on Saturday, and they’re already in business!! ^_^

Some other Asian stores you may be interested in which are also in the area…

Cafe Mama Pho – London Surrey Quays

After the Ice Sculpting Festival and having eaten some cold and lukewarm food at Wahaca, Miss Pinky and I, plus Master H who joined us later in the evening went to a local Vietnamese restaurant in Surrey Quays. An Instagram follower suggested this place, and I thought, why not!!
Outside Cafe Mama Pho

Some of the pictures displayed

I’ve tried looking for blogposts about this place, but there’s not much. Short history – it’s been opened since 2009. The previous cafe there was called Cafe East, which has moved near to the Odeon cinema and run by a family member of Cafe Mama Pho.

Since I’ve have never eaten at a proper Vietnamese restaurant before, it was hard making a decision with what to eat, although I have wanted to try out Vietnamese rolls for a very long time!!

So here’s our food, plus my drink (Miss Pinky and Master H had fizzy drinks and a Chinese tea… Not adventurous)…
Some garnishes for you to add to your food

Master H had the Com Suan, which is a lemon grass pork chop – it is sweet and glazed, this was served with rice and salad… He enjoyed it as he was hungry!

Com Suan

Miss Pinky had the Com Tam Cha Suon Bi. This consisted of the same pork chop, shredded pork and pork skin, Vietnamese meat pie served with rice and salad… Miss Pinky is quite a fussy eater. She didn’t like the sweetness of the pork chop (which I liked because I tried some). And the meat pie? She didn’t eat much of it, but I had the rest! It was good!! She said she would have preferred more soy sauce on her rice but there was none at the table for her to use (I did tell her to ask!).

Com Tam Cha Suon  Bi

Now for my food. I had the Che Sun Sa, which is a coconut cream milk with jelly and rice bits. It was like having a pina colada… but a non-alcoholic version of it. Thumbs up! (^_^)b

Che Sun Sa –> ^_^

Big strings / lumps of jelly

I then had the Bi Cuon which is a pork skin and pork meat roll. It was served cold with some chilli sauce, which I wasn’t expecting. This is probably best served in the summer rather than in the winter! Master H liked these. Miss Pinky wasn’t thrilled. I was ok with it. But I think I will try the hot Bahn Cuon (cheung fun) next time.

Bi Cuon

Sorry… I couldn’t focus well…

Then the best food came out… Pho Chin… This had some well done beef served with pho (ho fun) in spicy soup (you can have non-spicy soup if you don’t like spicy)… Wow! I loved the beef. It was so tender. The ho fun was nice, not tough and just right. And the soup was very good too! The soup wasn’t as spicy as Korean spicy soups but spicy enough to keep you warm! I would definitely have this again!!!

Pho Chin

Pho Chin – Yummy!!!

Miss Pinky had two complaints afterwards:

1. They don’t serve alcohol (I didn’t mind), and
2. It was a sit, eat and then go type of place and you couldn’t relax much (people were standing at the door, and it was soooo cold!)… We actually moved seats twice because the first time we sat next to the door and then the second time because there was a bigger group coming in… 😦

I hope that one day they will expand the place, as the place is quite small for a busy place i.e. use the upstairs or basement to fit more people in. This place is really popular with the locals, and I’m sure people who are not from the area will go and visit this place too…

Total price came to £33.30 (incl. £2 service charge).

By the way, we were so full afterwards, it was very hard to walk back to Rotherhithe!

My geeky rating: 4.8/5

Good points:
– Speedy and friendly service
– Loved the pho and meat pie! I want more!
– I loved my drink too!!!
– Pricing wasn’t too bad – similar to Chinese restaurants

Bad points:
– The place is a little cramped, but seating wise it was ok
– Felt a bit rushed eating as the waitress staff were coming and going

Address: 24 Evelyn Street, Deptford, London SE8 5DG (Directions: as you come out of Surrey Quays Overground, make sure you exit towards Lower Road. Walk down Lower Road… Keep walking pass the traffic lights. And once you see McDonald’s it’s a few more meters ahead…!)
Telephone: 0208 305 6649