41-42 Deptford Broadway,
London SE8 4PH
Rare Beef Pho (Lunch menu): £4.50
Coconut drink: £1.80
Vietnamese food was the initial impetus for writing this blog. I loved it and could not find it in Manchester (until I did). Being in London for a week, I could hardly ignore the wealth of Vietnamese on offer, and made my way to Deptford.
On and around Deptford High Street are a fair few Vietnamese places. Le Gia, situated in a cavernous white building, was the only one open for a 3pm lunch on a Monday. Fair enough. Inside, it looks a little like a school canteen, with high white walls and utilitarian tables. The school vibe is smashed by the room's well-stocked bar and small shrine, however.
I got the rare beef pho and a coconut drink that was flavoured with long strips of coconut flesh. The pho was close to perfect - chewy rice noodles, a broth silky with meaty depth and fragrant flavours (and not just the kind from the "Thai Five Spice" shaker), and delivered hot enough to partially cook the thin strips of beef but keep them tender. The accompaniments - beansprouts, sweet and spicy basil, lemon wedge and another earthy-spicy herb I couldn't identify - were barely needed due to the on-target flavours of the broth and meat, but the basil added a sweet note that was otherwise lacking. No additional chillies were offered, and the broth barely tingled, but any heat would have seemed superfluous due to its superb quality.
Deptford is hardly a destination for most people (although it is easily accessible) let alone a food destination. A quick peek around the Deptford High Street area, however, brought to light a plethora of small restaurants (mostly Vietnamese, but some Indian and Caribbean) that are gaining increasing recognition on websites such as Chowhound. Should you venture to Deptford during lunchtime, a stomach-expanding bowl of unusually good pho for the bargain price of £4.50 should be on your must-have list.