Posted by Ruth
Where: 14 Chalk Farm Road, Camden, NW1
Cost: Mains under £10 per person
Think of Camden, and it is usually the alternative pubs, clubs and shops that spring to mind – not its culinary delights. However, look a little closer and there are a number of small, affordable restaurants offering tasty food and quick service. Thanh Binh is a great example. Situated conveniently close to Camden Lock, this Vietnamese gem has been open since 1990. It’s a family run place, and the celebrity pictures adjourning the wall (including Mick Jagger), show that it’s had some interesting custom over the years.
Feeling a little adventurous we opted for Vietnamese frogs legs and (more traditionally) crispy squid. The former was unusual and perhaps a one-off for us – though the crisp, delicately spiced batter was delicious. The squid was cooked to perfection, and delivered a fiery hit of chili and garlic which heightened the senses. While setting the bar high, the mains (Chicken Pho, and Bun Ca – a monkfish and noddle broth) easily surpassed the starters. Hearty and warming, the steaming fragrant bowls were absolutely perfect for a winter evening. The monkfish dish was the star of the meal, with fresh tomato and coriander adding another dimension to the traditional Vietnamese flavours – well worth sampling for yourself.
Thanh Binh is not necessarily as original as it may have been in 1990, with Vietnamese cuisine growing in popularity and many restaurants dotted about London – but for a quick, tasty meal, it’s hard to beat. The staff could have been slightly more attentive, but overall a great experience. Pop in if you’re in the area.