Bam-Bou

Why go here:

If you want to eat Vietnamese, Chinese or Thai but can’t make your mind up, go to Bam-Bou. It offers dishes from each of these cuisines as well as fusion dishes combining these styles.

What it looks like:

It’s spread across four floors where the top floor is a cosy cocktail bar and the remaining floors are for dining and the decor inspired by colonial times in the East with dark wood panelling and reddish hues adding the oriental touch.

The food:

For starters, we tried the Hanoi style short ribs and the scallops with kimchee butter since most of the other dishes were quite generic such as the prawn dumplings, crackers and the fragnant Thai salads. The chilli, garlic ribs were so good that I’m not sure I can go back to eating the standard sticky ribs…The scallops were soft and fresh and the kimchee butter added a great flavour but I think it slightly overpowered the tender flavour of the scallops.

For mains, we tried the whole bream and the charcoaled duck. The spicy, sweet and tangy shrimp jam with the hint of coriander was the highlight of the dish for me. I could have had just the jam with rice as my main. Nonetheless, the bream was also done well and had a lovely crispy skin. The charcoaled duck had a deep smokey flavour and the meat was melt-in-your-mouth tender.

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The coconut panna cotta was quite the work of art with the scattering of lavendar petals and the spiced pineapple twirls, albeit all quite Western.

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Verdict:

This is a good place to go to if you’re looking to have Vietnamese, Chinese or both. The dishes aren’t very high on the innovation scale but they definitely tick most or all boxes on the taste test, so take you’re date here if you want to look adventurous but want to still play it safe. And the addition of their late night cosy bar means you can continue discussing the great dinner you had over hand mixed cocktails.

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Cay Tre

Why go here:

For contemporary Vietnamese in smart settings in the heart of Soho.

What it looks like:

Reflecting the standard layout of most modern Soho eateries, the place has an array of square tables for the diners with stools added to the bar for those in a hurry or eating solo.

The food:

I went with some colleagues and we decided to order the set menu. The Chilli Salt & Pepper squid and the wild shrimp rolls were very delish and cleared off within seconds.

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For main course, I had the slow cooked mekong catfish. The fish was soft and flaky and the flavours were delectable.Be careful with the drinks though. The wine we ordered racked up the bill to be almost thrice what the food alone would have cost!

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Verdict:

Great place if you’re craving some fresh and tasty Vietnamese dished up in imaginative combinations. The fast service and bar seating make it perfect for a business lunch and for solo eaters.