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HOP review: Fast and healthy Vietnamese food for those on the go

HOP © Charlie Richards

A range of Vietnamese street food at HOP, including noodle soups and Bánh mì
© Charlie Richards

Vietnamese cuisine has steadily been growing in popularity in recent years in London. While Dalston has long been the destination for Viet food lovers, it’s about time the rest of London had some venues offering authentic and tasty Vietnamese cuisine. Last month, a new venue offering Vietnamese street food for breakfast and lunch opened in Broadgate and, this week, I went to check it out. Located in Finsbury Avenue Square, just off Broadgate Circle, Hop is the latest addition to the circle’s revitalised dining hub, which is becoming a huge draw for City workers on their breaks.

Hop is a light and airy venue with some seating should you wish to stay in. I particularly liked the fact the food was well spread out into different sections, not crammed in as you often get in takeaway venues which can make for tricky scenes in the busy lunch rush. Having visited Vietnam myself last year, I can attest the cuisine is incredibly varied depending on what part of the country you’re in. The Hop menu features various dishes from across the country, including noodle soups, protein salads, bun noodle dishes and summer rolls. Ho Chi Minh City, aka Saigon, is famous for its Bánh Mì- a dish influenced by Vietnam’s former colonists France – which consists of a baguette stuffed with cold cuts, herbs and mayonnaise. When I was in Vietnam, I struggled to find any Bánh Mì suitable for vegetarians or pescatarians so was pleased to see Hop had a spring onion omelette one.

However, on this particular visit, I was feeling in need of a healthy boost so opted for one of the protein salads – eventually plumping for the Prawn and Mango (£4.50). Salads are rarely my first choice of food when eating out, but the ingredients used and the addition of fruit (I’ve always thought more salads should include fruit), swayed me. Fortunately, I wasn’t disappointed and really enjoyed my dish. The shredded vegetables, prawn and mango were well complemented with the aromatic herbs and Nouc Cham dressing.

Aside from the food, there is also a wide choice of drinks including the famous Vietnamese coffee – which should be particularly handy for busy City workers. Overall, the HOP experience was fast and friendly. The staff were informative and helpful. I found myself initially torn between dishes as they looked so appetising so I will definitely have to go back to try more. If you’re looking for healthy and tasty food on the go, then hop into Hop!

  • HOP, 2 Finsbury Avenue Square, Broadgate, City of London, EC2M 2PA. Nearest station: Liverpool Street. Open from 7-11am for breakfast, 11am-4pm for lunch. For more information, visit the HOP website.

Disclaimer: Metro Girl was a guest of Hop for this review.

For more of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.

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Urban Orient review: A taste of Vietnam in a laidback, cafe setting

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

To start: Banh Khot – Vietnamese pancakes with shrimps

Vietnamese has been steadily growing in London as a popular cuisine after years of dominance by other Asian food, such as Thai, Chinese and Indian. However, I found I’ve often had to go into East London to find decent Vietnamese… until now. I’m quite well acquainted with the many venues on offer in Crystal Palace. However, due to their lack of a website or Twitter presence, I wasn’t aware of Urban Orient until a friend suggested eating there. Last weekend, a large group of booked a table, and were given one by the large windows so we were able to watch the bustle of Crystal Palace going by. Although open for dinner, as well as lunch, the open kitchen and woodwork gave the venue a relaxed cafe-vibe which I really liked. The interior was decorated with vintage IndoChina paraphernalia and old typewriters which made it stand out to other Vietnamese restaurants.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Delicious: Bun Cha Ca – vermicelli noodles with salad and lightly spiced battered fish

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Piping hot: Won ton soup with pork

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Urban Orient is located on Westow Street in Crystal Palace, just on the junction with Church Road

To start with, a friend and I shared our starter of Banh Khot – a plate of four mini savoury pancakes filled with shrimps, mung bean and roasting herbal flavours (£4.80). They weren’t quite what I was expecting when I heard the word pancakes, but they were compact and delicious and I would likely order this again when I return. For my main, I had the Bun Cha Ca – vermicelli rice dish with crunchy salad and spicy fish sauce topped with delicately spiced battered fish. It was incredibly filling and delicious. One of my friends chose the Won Ton Soup with pork and really enjoyed it, but again found it very filling.

The staff were incredibly friendly and relaxed, especially having to put up with 12 of us chatting away. The menu is very good value and includes a mix of dim sum, soup noodles and rice dishes. The venue is cash only and BYOB – which frankly I believe a lot more venues should be BYOB. A friend and I shared a bottle of Sauvignon between us with corkage only £4. Overall, it is a good value and a pleasant place for a relaxed meal. I will definitely be returning.

  • Urban Orient, 74 Westow Street, Crystal Palace, SE19 3AF. Tel: 020 8616 4511. Nearest station: Crystal Palace.
© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Relaxed cafe vibe: The restaurant is light, airy and informal

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