As a San Francisco transplant to London, I miss having excellent, regional Asian food a short bus ride or walk away (how I miss tea leaf salad). My neighborhood in North London has some tasty restaurants, but the standard Asian places tend to be Pan-Asian (Thai plus Chinese plus Japanese plus fish and chips!), not particularly good, and cheap with the ingredients I like best.
CôBa on York Way in N7 has been a great addition – it’s a bit upscale looking in the context of its immediate neighborhood (across the street from a kebab-burger-fish fry place) but prices are reasonable and the quality was excellent. The owner is Vietnamese-Australian, and I feel that focus on bright, fresh flavors in the menu here.
We split the veggie papaya salad, which was served with black sesame shrimp chips. If I had my druthers, I’d alter the ratio and decrease shredded carrots to green papaya, but the flavor was spot-on and the serving size was generous (definitely split this one).
My husband had the spiced BBQ chicken noodle bowl (AKA bun) which was thick with herbs and nuts. I had beef pho, which nicely had more than one cut of beef (balls as well as slices). This wasn’t quite the luxury of San Francisco Vietnamese joints where you have your choice of meat cuts in pho, but again, the flavors were fresh, bright and clean, and I loved that they weren’t cheap with the generous handfuls of herbs or meat. Also that they had different types of noodles in the bun versus the pho – if you love Vietnamese food, you might be thinking “isn’t that obvious?” but I’ve paid 8 pounds in London for a “bun” of soup noodles, no herbs, a bit of grated carrot and some sad flavorless chicken. No longer. Team CôBa.
Dessert was a slice of banana-coconut cake with a spoonful of caramel. To die for.