This new arrival to Old Street is a cute Vietnamese deli where banh mi baguettes are the star of the show. In Vietnam, ‘Kêu’ means ‘that’s fantastic’, revealing the level of enthusiasm from the team behind this project.
The Vietnamese Kitchen family has spawned a new deli, sister to Viet Grill on Kingsland Road and Cay Tre, just opposite Kêu! on Old Street. Kêu! stands out from the traditional-looking pubs and restaurants on the street. Its fluorescent green logo pops out from the black background of the deli’s exterior. Bay windows are flung open, and seats running the length of the deli window show off this lively eating spot to passers by.
Once inside, the décor is modern Oriental – black is the dominant colour and a minimal design gives it a simple aesthetic appeal. Staff work away at the deli counter while ducks spin on the rotisserie behind them, generating an inviting smell as you enter the small restaurant floor. Seating is also found to the rear of the deli, where modern lighting fixtures hang from the ceiling.
Kêu! Banh Mi Deli is a great place for a spot of lunch. Customers queue up at the counter for a quick baguette on-the-go, while others come in to while away their lunch break in the trendy confines of this cosy establishment. As a consequence, there is a constant flow of traffic across the restaurant floor, which all adds to the buzz about the place. Vietnamese staff are friendly and excited about the food on offer, asking for feedback and keenly checking you enjoyed your meal.
Primarily a sandwich bar, Kêu! also provides a menu of oriental salads, soups and special lunch boxes. The banh mi on the menu are popular Vietnamese street snacks. Banh mi took their shape during the French colonisation of Vietnam, making them an interesting fusion food. These meat-filled sandwiches are served in crisp and freshly baked baguettes with a thinly spread layer of kewpie mayonnaise. The BBQ pork banh mi (£4.50) is filled with light and crisp flavours that are clean on the palate. The pork is sticky and sweet, and infused with lemongrass. It is accompanied by fresh coriander, lightly pickled Oriental vegetables and fresh cucumber, making it a hugely refreshing, but still meaty, bite to eat.
Other banh mi on the menu includes the pork meatball xiu mai and the classic Kêu! sandwich filled with spiced pork belly, ham terrine and chicken liver pate. Salads and soups are also very reasonable in price. A red sea prawn salad costs just £4, while the stewed herb chicken soup with ginseng costs £3.50. For a little extra, customers can enjoy a Kêu! lunch box, typically comprising a meat dish with rice. The spicy roast duck with steamed greens and rice costs £6, while the popular steamed pork bun is £3.50 and comes with char siu, ear mushrooms, Jamaican yam and sesame seeds.
Kêu! serves up a wide selection of teas to maintain the oriental theme, with artichoke, jasmine and green teas all costing £1.70 a cup. Smoothies (£3.50) and specially blended fruit juices (£3) also pack in the best eastern fruits, such as the good morning Vietnam smoothie (£3.50), made with mango, honey, agave nectar and yoghurt. Caravan coffee is used at Kêu!, made from 100% Arabica beans. A cup of cappuccino costs £2.50, is deliciously bitter and packs a punch.
The Last Word
With its Shoreditch location, it’s no surprise that Kêu! is trendy and quirky. Yet what really makes Kêu! exciting is its affordable lunch prices. The banh mi makes for a perfect snack and a great change from your average sandwich. It’s no surprise that staff want to spread the word on just how ‘fantastic’ this form of Vietnamese street food really is.