The spicy soft shell crab (£8.30) was more batter than crab meat. Half of it seemed to have been dipped in salt whilst the other half begged for seasoning.
The chargrilled quail (£6.20) was cooked well; it was very succulent for such a small bird. But it didn’t blow my mind the way it stopped my tears many years ago.
Most of my friends ordered pho and said they’ve had better. Hmm. Has Mien Tay lost its magic?
My usual Vietnamese staple, bun thit nuong (£7) came and finally, things were right again. It looked, smelled, and most importantly, tasted the way I remember. The (room temperature) noodles were firm (even after soaking the nuoc cham), veggies were crunchy and fresh, pork was beautifully cooked. On a rainy day like that, it was exactly what you needed.
After our meal, a server came with plates of orange segments and our bill. It may not be the cheery restaurant it once was but at least, it’s still very cheap.
I looked over our old table by the corner (near the bar, but of course) and a gloomy wave of nostalgia washed over me. I miss S, H & K, but I’m quite convinced those days of lambasting life prepped us for the happiness we now have. This place may not be the same, but then so are we. Perhaps the magic of Mien Tay lies in the fact that it’s comfortable and dependable. Sure, you’d have a few hits and misses every so often (our visit was a bit more of a miss), but you know it’s just around the corner to give you some sort of comfort – like a good friend at any given day.
Mien Tay – Battersea
180 Lavender Hill, Battersea, London SW11 5TQ | +44(0)20 7350 0721