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Mien Tay (Restaurant)

Picture of Mien Tay in Clapham, London

180 Lavender Hill, Clapham Junction, Clapham, London, SW11 5TQ
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Tel: 020 7350 0721 | Email to Mien Tay | Transport: Clapham Junction | Write review

Mien Tay Review

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Our dinner at Mien Tay was booked on one of those increasingly familiar nights when union leader Bob Crow – a man who looks like a swollen testicle but is half as likeable – once again stuck a rusty spanner in the works of London’s transport system by calling a general transport workers union strike. Although the strike had actually been called off at the last minute (by a court injunction rather than by grace of Bob), the news hadn’t yet filtered through to much of London’s travelling public, and the streets were consequently as crammed with traffic as Mr Crow’s letterbox must be with hate-mail.

As a result, by the time I trudged through Mien Tay’s front door into the chintzy turquoise interior, I was half an hour late and in a mood as disgusting as the blustery wet night I had just come in from. This restaurant was going to have to work very hard to impress me.

Fortunately, the charms of Mien Tay are irresistible. From very first impressions, Mien Tay is an endearing hotchpotch of authentic South Vietnamese culture and kitsch imitation, exemplified by the assortment of miscellaneous oriental-style knick-knacks that cluttered every available non-dining surface around the restaurant.

Our table – authentic wicker dressed in a less authentic paper tablecloth – was situated in the corner of the restaurant, giving us a prime people-watching seat from which to check out the rest of the clientele that sat cosily packed together across the room. They proved to be a similarly intriguing mix: to my right, a pair of suited middle-aged gentlemen talked shop over a quiet meal out; to my left, a young Vietnamese couple spent the evening gazing lovingly at each other over their noodles; ahead, a large group of Hooray Henrys dominated the atmosphere, exuding the sort of boisterous arrogance that a childhood in public school seems to engender, and that the excitement of having recently moved to Clapham from the family mansion in Guildford seems to accentuate.

Turning our attention to the food, deciding what to eat was a gargantuan challenge. The Mien Tay menu is a work of biblical proportions, featuring a cast of animals that would make Noah jealous. Just about every preparation of beef, pork, lamb, goat, chicken, duck, crab, lobster, eel, frog, quail, prawn, mussel, mackerel, bream, bass, giraffe and duck-billed platypus was available...OK, maybe I added the last two, but the choice (which even included a few vegetarian options) was never-the-less bewildering.

Having eventually decided on our orders, we relayed them to our waitress, who was all smiles and utterly charming despite her patchy grasp of English. The food that followed throughout the evening was generally satisfying if slightly variable in quality. Some was absolutely superb – the chargrilled quail, the frogs’ legs in satay sauce, and the wonderfully original Mien Tay spring rolls in particular.

For dessert, the ‘gelatinous seaweed rainbow drink’ (a concoction of coconut milk, seaweed noodles, kidney beans and cardamom that was every bit as bizarre as it sounds) was also a delight, if an acquired taste.

However, the bream in mango marinade and beef in ginger and onion sauce were both over-done and a consequently too tough. It is perhaps no coincidence that, at the time our mains arrived, both floors of the restaurant were absolutely packed to the rafters, with more eager customers being turned away at the door. The unfaltering smiles of the staff may not have betrayed any inner stress, but the slight dip in food quality suggests that the Thursday night workforce were overstretched in trying to offer such an extensive menu to so many people.

Finishing up our meal, my partner and I made our way back into the grizzly night in far better moods than the ones in which we had arrived, considering how best to describe Mien Tay to Fluid readers. We concluded that the best indication of what Mien Tay is like is if you have ever been to a Turkish restaurant in Dalston, a Caribbean in Brixton, an Indian on Brick Lane, a Chinese in Chinatown or a Vietnamese in north Shoreditch, Mien Tay is cuter than most such venues, but offers a broadly similar rough-and-ready, cheap but wholly satisfying experience - a welcome alternative to the more soulless chains that typically populate the Clapham Junction area. There are no extravagant luxuries here such as wine-buckets or desserts other than the bizarre gelatinous seaweed creation. There is, however, an absurdly broad menu offering fulfilling and occasionally excellent food at a bargain price. And for your average, unfussy, relaxed night out, what more do you need?
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Customer Reviews for Mien Tay

Average (based on 1 votes): 1 Atmosphere: Value: Quality:

The following customer reviews are not endorsed by Fluid London and are simply those of users who wish to publish their independent experiences of Mien Tay.

“This place is great value - large servings of good hearty food, pretty cheap too. Not necessarily somewhere you'd take a date to impress them, but a cool place for a night out with friends”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Rupert, Clapham (8 years 4 months 4 days ago)

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Mien Tay Opening Hours

Monday: 12:00pm - 5:00pm
11:00pm - 3:00pm
Friday: 12:00pm - 5:00pm
11:30pm - 3:00pm
Tuesday: 12:00pm - 5:00pm
11:00pm - 3:00pm
Saturday: 12:00pm - 5:00pm
11:30pm - 3:00pm
Wednesday: 12:00pm - 5:00pm
11:00pm - 3:00pm
Sunday: 12:00pm - 3:00pm
Thursday: 12:00pm - 5:00pm
11:00pm - 3:00pm
   

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Venue ID: 20497

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