I’m sure you’re all aware, but South-East Asia is around 6000 miles away from Notts. It takes planes, trains and several automobiles to get you to the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, where you can sample the taste-explosion associated with Vietnam’s traditional cuisine. While we do have a decent noodle joint here and there, finding authentic Vietnamese food in Nottingham has presented quite a challenge. But the airy, plant-filled haven that is Cafe Coco Tang has hit the nail right on the head.
On this particular trip, there was far too much temptation to stick to one dish each. Instead, we chose to split a portion of the BBQ Lemongrass Chicken (£5.80), a personal favourite of mine including chicken thighs in a caramelised lemongrass glaze and a healthy portion of pak choi. Alongside this we had battered soft-shell crab (£12.50) and the bun cha pork patties (£9.20), which were topped off with rice noodles and a homemade fish sauce dip.
The sweet treats lined up caught my eye as soon as I walked in, so I finished off my visit with a slice of the Japanese roll cake – a fluffy roll stuffed with fruit and cream, decorated with a hand-painted delicate strawberry pattern. Coco Tang’s coffee has also become somewhat legendary in this city, with their own roasts available for both in-house and take away caffeine hits. I’d highly recommend trying the caphe sua da – an authentic Vietnamse coffee served with condensed milk – if you can handle the buzz.
The rustic, relaxed vibe of the decor, coupled with the traditional kitchen and handcrafted ceramics that house all the delectables, also help put Cafe Coco Tang high up on my list of favourite haunts in the city. With everything from tapas-sized plates to bowls chock-full of noodles, it’s no wonder the place is constantly packed out. Emily Thursfield
8 Byard Lane, NG1 2GJ
Cafe Coco Tang website