Vietnamese Street Kitchen – I miss chu, Misschu! (London)

[Edit: I’ve just found out that this new place is called ‘Oi Hanoi’, and they are currently in the process of re-branding themselves. DO show them some love guys!] 

Now, this post is titled a little strangely for a reason.

Most of you would be familiar with the frequency with which I visit Misschu since the first time L brought me here ages ago. (See post here, and for more about my love for Vietnamese food and Vietnam in general, see here) And since then, I had firmly decided that my favorite items were their lychee crushie, their tuna sashimi and avocado summer rolls, and their warm vermicelli salad with lemongrass beef.

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So imagine my surprise when I walked in one day with P - between classes, as always –  rocked right up to the counter to place my order… And realised that the Misschu I had come to love was no more.

I mean, on hindsight, I might’ve guessed. Firstly, the ordering slips were replaced with a considerably downsized menu. And the menu wasn’t just downsized, but had also changed quite a bit. Nevertheless, it still didn’t click for me, and I managed to find close enough substitutes for my favorite items. It was only when I went up to order, and was talking to the man ringing up my order, that I found out that the London branch of Misschu has unfortunately closed down, and though they retained the same staff, what I was standing in was… Well, to be honest, I have yet to find out.

And that is why this post is rather uniquely titled. Because I really have NO IDEA what place I am writing about. But it exists where Misschu once stood, so I suppose that’s good enough.

Similar to Miss Chu, they provide you with free tea.

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But I highly recommend you get the lychee crushie too. Its not on the menu, but you can try asking for the lychee cocktail on the drinks section and asking them to make it virgin for you. It’s very light and refreshing, fresh-tasting without being invasively fruity, and comes in a bigger glass than what I’m presenting here, as I ordered one to be split into 2 glasses.

Lychee Crushie (£4.50)

Lychee Crushie (£4.50)

I was disappointed that I couldn’t have my favorite tuna sashimi and avocado summer rolls, but the salmon sashimi and wakame summer roll was the perfect substitute.

Ok. So I didn’t like that they forgot/didn’t bother to remove the cling wrap when this was served.

Salmon & Wakame Rice Paper Rolls (£6)

Salmon & Wakame Rice Paper Rolls (£6)

 

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It was delicious still. Fat, generously stuffed, with fresh, raw salmon, and my favorite, crunchy and springy wakame, it’s like a Japanese salad in roll form. I like mine with sriracha though a traditional nuoc cham would’ve been nice.

They didn’t have lemongrass beef for my warm vermicelli salad so we ordered ginger beef instead.

Warm vermicelli salad with ginger beef (£9)

Warm vermicelli salad with ginger beef (£9)

It was still good. Reminiscent of my favorite buncha in Hanoi, with springy rice noodles, sticks of pickled carrot and radish, a lot of fresh herbage… Ugh I really miss Hanoi!!!!!! Anyway, I may get the caramelized pork belly instead next time though! That seemed to be the popular option. Other options include plum chicken, pan-fried salmon, prawns and I’m sure there’s also a vegetarian/vegan option as well.

We got another main, but because I’m not the biggest fan of the pho here – for a much better pho, go to Cay Tre (which I will post about… Sometime never. Hahaha) – so we had to settle on a curry.

Now, I’ve never been a big lover of Vietnamese curries, which are far too mild and not lemak enough for me, as the Southeast Asian in me always craves the richness and aroma of coconut milk. It’s like mother’s milk to me! But I decided to take a chance anyway. You get to choose a base of noodles or rice, so I chose rice.

Hanoi Chicken Curry (with brown rice) (£9)

Hanoi Chicken Curry (with brown rice) (£9)

It comes in a reasonably large portion size. Chunks of what I assume to be chicken breast, with pieces of carrot and potato, in a thin curry sauce, atop a generous bed of brown rice. It’s not the sort of curry that I love, more like a curry-flavored stew, really, but it’s still tasty and will do for most.

Now, I have curry with all sorts of carbohydrates, from fluffy white rice, or a spiced biryani, to toast, roti jala (net pancakes), and nasi kunyit (a turmeric-flavored sticky rice)… But never brown rice. It’s alright, I suppose, but being Chinese and having grown up in a white rice household, I’m probably just not used to it. I would probably ask for the rice to be served on the side in future, as I’ve always quite hated having my rice soaked in gravy of any form.

And there we have it, folks! A post about a place the name of which I really am not sure. Just take it from me that it exists!

It’s not Misschu but I can’t recommend it enough for a quick bite, well worth a visit if you’re in the area. It’s not the most authentic Vietnamese but it’s authentic enough, and having said that, I think we should also really bear in mind that it doesn’t pretend to be authentic, but is really more of an updated take on traditional Vietnamese dishes. Plus it’s definitely more than sufficiently tasty, especially if you’re sick of eating cold sandwiches and salads for lunch. Ugh. I know I am.

 

91 Whitechapel High Street

London E1 7RA

After lunch, we traipsed on a few doors down to Exmouth Coffee Company to grab some coffee to go.

They have an extensive selection of baked goods as well as some savory options. There’s no way you’ll miss them when you’re walking by as they occupy the entire window display. Here’s a photo of them basking in the sunlight, just as proof that London does indeed experience random bursts of sunshine!

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I got a long black, which, in addition to cortados, Americanos and flat whites, is my go-to.

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And also a lamington to go! The baristas were quite surprised that I had forgone all the prettier, and admittedly tastier looking treats, in favor of the lamingtons sitting forlornly in the corner, and asked me if I was from Australia or New Zealand. Really. Must I be Aussie or Kiwi in order to be subject to the occasional random craving for a lamington?!?!

Ok. To be fair, I know lamingtons aren’t for everyone. They are essentially layers of plain sponge cake, sandwiched with jam and cream, and then coated in chocolate and finally, dessicated coconut. I really like them though.

Anyway, check out my brick of a lamington!

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I wasn’t expecting it to be quite as big as it was. They are apparently made fresh on the day, and it did indeed taste very fresh. I think texture-wise this was spot-on, but it wasn’t the most flavorful, good if I was having a sweet coffee but I wasn’t on this occasion.

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In a way I think they remind me of a cross between kueh dadar and ondeh ondeh. Which makes me think of all the gula melaka cakes at home. I think we need to roll out a local version of a lamington, with soft layers of pandan sponge, sandwiched with kaya and grated coconut, coated in gula melaka syrup and then dusted in dessicated coconut. Omg YUM. Ok. To all my Western-friends who have no idea what I was just talking about, never you mind.

Digressions aside, I will definitely come back again for the coffee and wonderfully friendly baristas.

 

EXMOUTH COFFEE COMPANY 

83 Whitechapel High Street

London E1 7QX

Open everyday: 7AM to 8PM

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