Mien Tay

Last Updated on : 21st September 2022

Ever since A.A Gill gave it a good review; Mien Tay has been just about the best know Vietnamese restaurant in the Battersea area. A long-established stalwart of Lavender Hill, I thought it was high time that I revisited to see whether the standards were as high as I remembered.

It’s obviously still very popular as our failure to secure a table when turning up on spec at 7:30pm one recent Thursday evening demonstrated. We were greeted by what seemed to be a half-hearted agreement to hold a table for us as we were to come back in 30 minutes and lots of notices that this was a cash only restaurant thank you very much.

It was good that we had half an hour, as it took nearly that long to locate a working cashpoint. Arriving back at exactly the time we said we would, our meeter/greeter reluctantly allowed us to sit at a table for four, with the sort of facial expression that immediately communicated the pain of losing two potential covers on one of the busiest nights of the week.

Inside Mien Tay I noticed that the décor was exactly the same as in Gill’s 2010 review, which I had read in advance of our visit. Well not exactly the same, as it had now accumulated 12 years’ worth of wear and tear that had left it resembling a turquoisey green painted greasy spoon with infinity mirrors. Despite the fact I’m fairly certain it didn’t exist back then, I felt that I’d fallen through time back to about 1995, I was surprised that Oasis’s Definitely Maybe wasn’t playing on a strategically located boom box.

The menu is varied and voluminous and contains a host of Vietnamese specialities, including eel, goat, and frog’s legs. These are more expensive than in Gill’s day but with scarcely anything over £10, I think good value. The wine list was less varied, but still reasonable, with us settling on a Picpol de Pinet at £20.50 which did a sterling job of complementing without overpowering the flavours of the food

We both choose to start with the pork and prawn fresh rolls, which my god did they taste fresh…a bit like a swift afternoon breeze halfway up a mountain. The flavours here are more subtle in the actual roll whilst bursting out with the force of a thousand packets of KP in the peanut sauce.

For the main course, I ordered a beef noodle stir fry. This as it turned out was about as ambitious as meeting the world’s leading mixologist and asking him to knock you up a quick G&T. My companion had ordered a beef pho, which he proceeded to add chilis to in a personal attempt to solve this winter’s energy crisis.

My noodles were fine, just fine. It’s interesting that online this dish is referred to as a chowmein, so this was a bit like me going to a French restaurant and ordering paella. My companion described his pho as heavenly, and it certainly looked of high quality. All around us tables piled up with delicious looking crispy or saucy somethings, whilst my chopsticks limply explored my pallid noodles. To say I had food envy was a bit like saying that Mozart wrote some music.

The bill when it came was around £55 for 2 people, still great value in my mind. The only strike in my mind had been the service with a snarl at the beginning. I already want to go back, so I can’t say more than that.

Mein Tay

180 Lavender Hill, London SW11 5TQ

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