Song Que Cafe
134b Kingsland Road, Shoreditch, London E2 8DY
- Hoxton Station (0.1 km)
- Shoreditch High Street Station (0.8 km)
- Shoreditch High Street Rail Station (0.8 km)
- Haggerston Railway Station (0.9 km)
- Contact us:
020 7613 3222
60-64 Kingsland Road, Bethnal Green, London E2 8DP
ulius: “I use to here regularly 5 or 6 years ago and thought it was the best vietnamese in london. The price has increased massively since then and quality has gone down hill.The beef in my noodles tasted like rubber dog meat, most of which I...” more...
23 reviews of Song Que Cafe in English
I was there this afternoon with my baby who was having a nap in her pram. The waiter said that I would have to wake the baby up if I wanted to eat. I politely informed him that this would not be possible and he humphed for a bit and then went to find me an appropriate table. I thanked him for this and said that I would be happy to wait
He went away for a bit and when he came back he seemed a bit agitated. I said again that I was happy to wait and he shouted at me that I had to wait my turn. I was a bit confused by this as I'd already said that I was happy to wait.
He went away again and when he came back he pointed out a table on the far side of the restaurant and said that the people would be leaving soon and I could have that one but I would have to position my pram in a certain way. As I had never been there before I said ok, I'll have to have a look when I sit down to see what you mean. He then shouted at me again that I had to have that table and put my pram in a certain way. I calmly said to him that I had never been there before so did not know the layout of the restaurant and also the table was too far away for me to see properly.
I then pointed out to him that I did not appreciate being shouted at twice as I had not raised my voice once and was happy to wait. He apologised and I said I will wait here. He then shouted again that I had to wait for that particular table. I pointed out that he had shouted at me again and that I found it unacceptable. He apologised again and I said that I wasn't sure why he was shouting in the first place. He then shouted AGAIN at which point I decided that I really didn't want to eat there and the conversation was going round in circles. I informed the waiter that he was extremely rude and then left.
In the end I ate up the road at the much more polite establishment; Mien Tay which I WOULD recommend.
I can only conclude that the staff at Song Que are either extremely stressed or are a bit strange and think that it is acceptable to insult prospective customers.
Can’t make too much comment about this restaurant as I haven’t tried many Vietnamese restaurants in London, but the beef pho is quite tasty. I’ll make a more informed review when I try other restaurants.
This used to be my favourite Vietnamese restaurant, until I went to Vietnam. Better than some, but still a long way short of the amazing street food I had on holiday.
They have a huge menu, as do many other Vietnamese restaurants nearby. Perhaps this is part of the problem.
Full review and photos at www.grumblinggourmet.com
With the service being so speedy, you’ll be pleased to know the preparation is very much planned in advance. Of all the dishes Vietnamese cuisine is known for my favourite is the humblest, a bowl of Pho done well has few equals. Light beef stock simmered for hours with a blend of spices including fennel, coriander and star anise before the meats are dumped in at the last minute, bean sprouts and aromatics left to be added tableside. It’s the speciality at Song Que, with nearly 30 variants, and after a selection of starters, a keenly priced bowl filled with noodles, that broth, melting thin sliced steak and a scattering of tripe and tendon (worth it, and so soft here) is enough for most people. There’s such a depth of flavour in the stock that you’re not going to want to season with the obligatory Sriracha hot sauce, but I tend to dip the strips of beef and tripe in to a side pot, but then I’m a chilli hound.
Coming back to the starters, a few are worthwhile and interesting, though the Pho really is the thing. (If you want a selection of authentic and delicious Vietnamese starters to build a meal around then nearby Viet Grill is possibly a better option.) We went for their standout grilled beef in betel leaves, the soft and juicy little packages sweetly moreish, fried spring rolls, softshell crab and squid (the latter a little too batter coated for me, though it went swiftly enough).
While it’s not somewhere for a date, the sight of you licking Pho from your chin is enough to put off all but the most ardent admirers, it’s one of the better places for a ribsticking pre or post session bite or a swift lunch along the Kingsland Road.
Song Que is my favourite vietnamese restaurant in London. The restaurant and service is very basic and simplistic, but everything on the menu is absolutely delicious and very authentic too, in particular the combo pho, sea bream with mango, beef and papaya salad and prawn rolls MMM. There is usually a queue so book in advance if you can. Definitely recommended!
The food is great here, delicious authentic Vietnamese food served in portions generous enough to make sure you leave feeling stuffed!
Yes it is VERY busy so you may have to queue and then be prepared to be squeezed onto a table with other customers. All in all a fun if rather hectic dining experience!
I went here based on the recommendation of a friend, who classed it 'the best place in London for Pho'. So, after getting slightly lost in some dogdy estate, we finally found Song Que.
The decoration and furniture is basic and a little run down. We were shepherded to a table for four, which already had one person eating on it. I know communal eating is the new 'thing' but in a resturant only 1/3 full, this is ridiculous. Spilt for choice on the menu, we went for a beef Pho, a a vietnamese pancake with chicken & prawn and a prawn roll.
This was my first time trying Vietnamese food. I've had Thai, Chinese, Malay etc, and liked them all, but this did not work for me. The pancake with chicken & prawn took up half a normal size dinner plate, but only had 3 prawns in it, and about 5 small bits of chicken. All the rest was padded out by beansprouts. Same with the prawn roll; 2 prawns and a crapload of vegatables to bulk it out. The pho was just odd to me. There was nothing wrong with it, I just didn't like the flavour, and that's my problem, not the resturants. My friend who loves pho thought this one was great, and ate it all.
I would not go back here even if I liked the food, because I felt the price did not justify what you get, and the service is so poor.It's impossible to get waiters attention, they seem intent on ignoring customers at all costs. Try another Vietnamese place, and don't make the effort to come here, it's not worth it.
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I fell in love with Song Que on my first visit over 4 years ago and have been returning frequently ever since. Especially after having been to Vietnam myself I could appreciate the flavour and authenticity of their dishes even more.
For me, eating at Song Que is always a treat. It doesn’t matter that the atmosphere is canteen-like, the waiters are impolite and too many people are packed into too little space because I am there for the food. And the food is delicious and very cheap.
Mind you, not everything is equally nice and the menu is very long and slightly confusing, so it’s critical to know what to order to avoid disappointment. Here some of my recommendations:
For starters: the fresh spring roles with prawns are an absolute must – they are full of fresh flavour with buckets of fresh herbs accompanied by a lovely dipping sauce. Heavenly. I absolutely adore their papaya salad (Gỏi đu đủ)– the green papaya is crunchy and fresh, with a lovely tangy sauce and crushed peanuts complemented with fresh chilli and prawns (although I could do without the pale pieces of pork that come with it, I usually hide them under the prawn crackers). Lovely and fresh is also the lotus shoot salad (Gỏi ngó sen). The minced beef wrapped in betel leaves is one of the hot starters I truly recommend: the juicy beef is served with fish sauce, rice vermicelli and fresh mint. I am not particularly keen on their Bánh xèo (pancakes filled with chicken and beansprouts, served with fresh herbs, salad and dipping sauce) which is not bad as such but too greasy for my taste and it doesn’t reach the level of the aforementioned dishes.
For mains I personally tend to stick with the noodle dishes which are consistently delightful: I could eat their Bún chả every day. It is basically a very simple dish – rice vermicelli with lemongrass, fish sauce, fresh Vietnamese mint , prawn or chicken, fresh chilli, bean sprouts and peanuts all mixed together providing a flavour explosion. Also very good is their Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) which comes in different flavours and with different meats. It tastes just like in Saigon and is not much more expensive either.
I recommend to avoid their stir frys, they just don’t match up to their other dishes.
And also.. don’t let the service annoy you; just prepare yourself for loads of rude little men, at least they tend to be efficient.
I have to mention also that some major improvement has occurred beginning of this year – they now have a new shiny toilet! (meaning that you don’t have to walk through their store room anymore).
Song Que is by no means without fault, but in my opinion Song Que consistently offers exceptionally delicious food for incredible value for money.
This place is certainly is not up to standard, i have been to many Vietnamese places and the food is not up to scratch, i dine very frequently and i would not recommend this place to anyone.
The place felt very grubby , service was very very poor, we were seated ,not greeted at all, the waiter came over dumped the menus on the table and threw some prawn crackers. When i was ready to order ,i called over to the waiter politely only to be answered with "what", disgraceful,. There was at least 8 -10 staff on the floor yet their service showed that they had no clue how to behave and run a business, Although this experience was terrible, i wanted to stay to see if the food was as good as what some reviews had said. To much i was disappointed.... Being of Vietnamese heritage ,the food was chewy, beef was not grilled but seemed fried and old....:(
I could not wait to leave, asked for my bill, only to made to wait a further 6-10 minutes, i then took myself to the counter asking for my bill, only to be greeted with a sour face young girl, who simply wrote the bill taking 2 seconds, when i had previously asked for it 10 minutes ago, ... she threw the bill down,
Honestly if you are looking for good Vietnamese/ Chinese food i would recommend that you take yourself a little further to West end, where service and food is great!! these areas in Hackney i have learnt that they just dont know how to run a business or treat customers with respect, i often dine at least 2 times a week and i think its important to be fair and honest if places are good or not, so hope this helps!!!
I couldn't resist kicking off with goi cuon (£3.60), The literal translation is salad rolls but they are also known as summer rolls. On Song Que’s bilingual menu, they're called ‘fresh roll prawn & herbs wrapped in rice paper’. These were freshly made as evidenced by the crunchy herby salad filling which complemented the rice vermicelli (bun) and the prawns well.
To the uninitiated, pho is the famous beef and rice noodle soup of Vietnam served with accompaniments of beansprouts, herbs, chilli and lime. Noodle geeks might be interested to know that the word pho actually refers to the rice noodle but over the years it has become shorthand for the noodle soup itself.
I'm pretty sure that Song Que has the largest selection of pho in London. There are no less than 24 choices on the menu with none costing more than £6.80. Most of these are beef based with the more extreme versions including tendon and tripe but there are also chicken, seafood and tofu options. I went for the pho tai nam (£6.30) which is a combo of rare sliced steak and well done beef flank.
The beefy broth had hints of star anise and cloves and came further alive when the herbs and a squeeze of lime were added. I only threw in a couple of chopped chillies as I didn't want to overpower the broth. The rare steak slices were actually rare but even better was the well done flank which tasted really beefy (I know this is a crap sentence but I don't know how else to put it). The crunchy beansprouts also contrasted well with the slippery smooth rice noodles.
Song Que Cafe - Pics @ The London Foodie
I have been coming to Kingsland Road for my fix of Vietnamese food for the last 15 years, and have witnessed a few places coming and then quickly vanishing from sight. Sông Quê Café is one of the old timers, and I am pleased that it has managed to hang on as one of the most popular restaurants on the Kingsland strip.
Time Out has been incredibly complimentary of Sông Quê Café over the years, and in its most recent Time Out Eating & Drinking Guide 2009, it awarded 5 stars to this Café, its maximum number.
Having spent a couple of weeks in Vietnam sampling the most scrumptious food made me realise how good Sông Quê Café is. A lot of the dishes I tried in Vietnam were not as successful as the ones I had eaten at Sông Quê, while I can still count the few that were actually better.
The décor isn’t great (the huge plastic lobsters on their walls are actually scary!), and service can be rather grumpy at times. The food, however, more than makes up for these.
My latest visit was no exception. As a group of four, we could share a variety of dishes from the menu. I find that their pho (beef soup with rice noodles), starters, salads and “buns” (vermicelli noodles with meats and salad) are by far their best dishes.
We started with Fresh Rice Paper Rolls with Prawns and Herbs, Prawn Paste with Sugar Cane, Grilled Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaf, and Spicy Soft Shell Crab. I love the fresh rolls from Sông Quê, they are fresh and herby with just the right amount of rice vermicelli. This is one of the simplest dishes on any decent Vietnamese menu, and can be prepared well in advance. If prepared too early and not well stored, it can smell and taste of the refridgerator. This is not a problem I have experienced in Sông Quê. Fresh rolls are also great to be made at home and served as canapés if you can master the softening and wrapping of rice paper sheets. I would recommend practice well before your guests are due to arrive!
I had never ordered the Prawn Paste with Sugar Cane before, but it was highly recommended by the lovely Clare, full time foodie and Senior Dietitian at a prominent London Hospital, who was dining with us that evening. The prawn paste was very flavoursome with hints of garlic and coriander root, a real discovery which I will be ordering again.
The Grilled Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaf was also good. The charred and soft betel leaves were beautifully wrapped around the spiced minced beef, the flavours combining well together.
Sông Quê’s Soft Shell Crab is a real winner. I have tried to recreate this dish numerous times at home with varying degrees of success, but could never get anywhere near Sông Quê’s. Despite being deep fried, it is deliciously light; the batter is always incredibly thin and the chilli and garlic seasoning does not overwhelm the delicate flavour of the crab. However, at nearly £7, I find their Soft Shell Crab portion slightly ungenerous.
For mains, we had Traditional Crispy Pancake with Prawn and Chicken served with Salad and Herbs, Green Papaya Salad with Prawn and Pork, Stir Fried Beef with Lemongrass Bun and Spring Roll & Grilled Pork Bun.
The pancake was again very good with a coconut flavour to its crispy batter that makes me order it over and over again. This seems to be one of Vietnam’s staple street food dishes and I had it many times whilst there.
I was slightly disappointed with my Green Papaya Salad this time round. The combination of flavours (sour, sweet, salty) was as good as ever but the thinly sliced pork did not taste as fresh as it could have done.
Both “buns” were very good, but particularly the one with stir fried beef and lemon grass. I normally order the grilled pork & spring roll bun but was pleasantly surprised to taste the wok charred beef in lemongrass. The flavours were excellent and the lemongrass gave a real punch to the dish.
Another dish that we did not manage to order this time but that I would highly recommend is the Crispy Sea Bream in Fish Sauce with Mango. As the name suggests, the entire fish is deep fried making it crispy, the shredded green mango is also a great and exotic addition. It is delicious!
Verdict – Authentic and delicious Vietnamese food in the heart of London and as good as some of the best restaurants in Vietnam. Very affordable, our meal cost us £13 per person. Highly recommended.
Yum Yum Yum!!! I can't get enough of this place!! It doesn't look like much, but don't judge a book by its cover. The food here is out of this world! Be adventurous and go for one of the more traditional pho's. I could eat every meal of the day here. :)
Song Que is the Chinese version of the infamous Wong Kei, except it has better food!
Food is cheap and portions are huge. The only warmth you should expect is from the food - service is brisk but brusque.
That said, this is one of my favourite Vietnamese restaurants in London - the dishes are authentic, and they have a comprehensive menu. You can order a different dish each time you visit, altho I usually end up ordering my favourite Beef Pho for mains, but get adventurous with the starters.
Try the lotus root salad - it is surprisingly good. The grilled fish/beef starters are excellent too. In fact, there is so much good food to recommend at Song Que, I’ll just say… go ahead, be inventive. If you’re really stumped, look at what your neighbour is ordering, and follow suit!
With prices kept between £5-7, you’d be tempted to over order… I usually do. But bear in mind, you’re not getting French portions here, so you’ll end up wasting, if you order more than 1 starter & 1 main course per person. In fact, if you have an average appetite, you’d do better ordering a starter to share, and one main course each.
I never spend more than £20 a head at Song Que. In fact, it’s more like £12, inclusive of their wonderful Lemonade (homemade Lime Juice).
Just don’t expect to sit around to chit chat once you’ve finished your meal - like Wong Kei, they turn out their customers by slapping down your bill, expecting a pay up once you’re done. Yes, the turnaround is THAT quick! If you don’t want to be hurried off, just take your time with your meal.. but once you’re done, they won’t want you to tarry.
Excellent cheap cafe right on Kingsland Road and not far from nice pubs in Hoxton and Columbia Road. The speciality of this cafe/restuarant is Vietnamese noodle soup - however veggies be warned the stock is beef stock even if you order tofu or vegetable versions. I stuck to stir fried veg with sticky rice which was fantastic. The jasmine tea we ordered to accompany was a nice refreshing alternative to wine (my friend assures me the wine is 'ropey’).
The service is a bit hit and miss - we found we were ignored for large chunks of time and then would be harrassed by staff (asking why I was a vegetarian..erm….none of your business?). Overall a fun busy atmospheric restaurant and cheap enough for a week night meal.
This is quite a well-known Vietnamese restaurant on Kingsland Road, in an area that sports quite a few Vietnamese eateries.
It’s usually quite bustling inside, with a cosy hubbub of noise and chatter. And waiters flit busily around the tables.
The house white wine was surprisingly palatable, and the steamed Sea Bass we had was very nice, accompanied by side orders of rice and vegetables.
Song Que is quite a good place to combine with a trip to Columbia Road Flower market on Sunday, or a visit to the nearby Geffrye Museum. And it’s within easy reach of Hoxton and Shoreditch.
I’ve eaten at quite a few Vietnamese restaurants in the area from Hanoi Cafe to Viet Grill, so I was expecting nothing less than the high quality these eateries have to offer for comparatively cheap.
However, despite being featured on Time Out London’s top 50 restaurants, reviewed by the revered Fodor’s guide, and obtaining an overall user rating of 9.3 on London-Eating, I was sorely disappointed. Perhaps I chose wrong, opting for the monkfish and vegetable soup (cold), plain noodles (bland and dry) and duck, spring onion and mushrooms main dish (really greasy, with fatty slabs of duck adorning the plate). The lemongrass chilli chicken my friend ordered was also rather too spicy for her delicate palate. Unfortunately, what it lacked in brash, tacky decor it didn’t make up for in fine food.
Featured on Time Out London’s top 50 restaurants, reviewed by Fodor’s - a top travel guide, and obtaining an overall user rating of 9.3 on London-Eating. Need I say more?
Frankly, I’m embarrassed to say that this is the first time I have come across this place in my four years in London. This will be the one place that rolls off the tip of my tongue from now on if I’m asked for my recommendation of a good Vietnamese restaurant. And among other Asian restaurants that I frequent, this ranks near the top for its quality and value for money.
After a nice lengthy stroll from Old Street Station to get the appetite up, the place initially disappoints on decor. Walking in there is certainly a homely feel, although the warmth doesn’t seem to be there. The walls are plain, and the lighting is somewhat dim, giving off a very sterile impression. However, overall it is a clean place with ample space and fast service.
The menu consists of mostly Vietnamese and some Chinese and other Asian food. Pho, the noodle broth dish, is clearly their speciality with over 20 different kinds. For the adventurous, there are the traditional ones with beef, tripe, and other cow parts. For the less adventurous, there is the standard “rare steak” (just thin strips of beef that are just cooked) or strips of chicken.
As you can see in the picture above (credit to Tasty Treats @ Wordpress), the noodles come in massive bowls, with ample portions of rice noodles, beef, and beansprouts. And for £6ish you can’t go wrong either! We ordered the fried spring rolls (£4) for the starter, which were very tasty. What impressed us most was that they also served homemade soya bean milk, which is the first time I’ve seen it in London. It is well worth the £1.30, as making fresh soya bean milk involves alot of energy and time, and even in South East Asian countries many restaurants have stopped making it as it is just not worth the effort. Extra kudos to Song Que!
Although our experience was nice while we were at the restaurant, half an hour later after leaving both my friend and I started getting dry mouths, a symptom of MSG and other flavoring ingredients. To be honest if was one of the worst dry mouths I’ve had after a meal in London, with most restaurants very ethical about not using too much of it.
This is the second to last Vietnamese restaurant as you head north along Kingsland road but before you get to the Geffrye Museum. We stopped in randomly late on a Saturday night and the place was buzzing. We didn’t have to wait too long for a table, just 5 minutes. Which gave us the chance to chat with the people also waiting.
One girl, who could correctly pronouse “pho”, raved about the pho here, plus the pancake. We weren’t starving, so I had the rare steak pho and D had the grilled pork bun. I wished I had ordered the pancake. The pho just didn’t do it for me, as the soup wasn’t really temperature hot enough. It couldn’t par-cook my bean sprouts. The steak wasn’t anything special. I would have preferred more broth and the noodles were really stuck together in a lump at the bottom of my bowl (which suggested they’d been sitting in the bowl for a while before the broth was added and they’d probably cooled the soup very quickly too).
D devoured his bun, so it was probably quite tasty. Our vietnamese coffees were also good, though I’m not sure the coffee was the true ultra-slow dripped through the wee pot atop your glass variety, as they arrived pre-mixed.
It looks like they take reservations and for groups. It was a young crowd of local hipsters on a Saturday evening at 10pm. I just didn’t have the pho I was expecting given all the raves I’d heard about the place. But I am really picky about my pho.
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