Review: Viet2Go restaurant, Surrey Street

By - Friday 15th June, 2018

Viet2Go provides fresh, delicious flavours, and coffee that makes it impossible not to come back again and again

Photo author’s own.

Croydon is in the middle of a coffee-house renaissance. From Coffee Shotter to Byte Café, we have a new coffee quarter in our midst. We have coffee coming out of every orifice. What no one has mentioned is that the best coffee in all of Croydon isn’t in a spangly new brewer’s emporium, served up by a serious-faced barista. The best coffee in Croydon is found at Viet2Go, down on Surrey Street*.

Vietnamese coffee is a wonder of engineering and flavours. It’s brought to you in a tall glass with condensed milk pooled at bottom, thick and syrupy. On top of the glass is a metal filter, through which your brew drips. Once your coffee has siphoned itself into your glass, you remove the filter and stir up the coffee and condensed milk for a high-powered caffeine kick with just the right amount of sweetness. It’s how I started every single day when I was travelling in Vietnam. It’s how I’d start every single day if I lived on Surrey Street.

Viet2Go is a tiny place – unassuming, a little bit scruffy. It has about nine tables, close-packed, with the Surrey Street vendors almost sitting in your lap. The staff are unfailingly smiling and cheery and they serve up their Vietnamese classics at lightning speed, while the kitchen in the back of the restaurant is a whirl of noise and close attention.

Photo author’s own

I’ve eaten pho there – the Vietnamese breakfast/supper staple – many times. The broth is rich and comforting, and the noodles are chewy and thick. Banh mi, the French-Viet fusion of a baguette and various fillings usually consisting of meat and pickled veggies, also hits the spot when all that you want is an alternative to a typical British sandwich. They make you greedy, banh mi – you always want just one more.

In the winter we eat shaking beef – cubes of tender meat in a sweet sauce, served up with sticky rice – or the Viet take on chicken satay – melt-in-the-mouth chicken in a delicately flavoured peanut sauce. Summer rolls are light and flavoursome, and full of crisp salad. Prices work out at around £10 per person for a filling, tasty and authentic lunch. It’s cash only, so pop over to the ATM by Sainsbury’s before you go.

I went in on a hot May weekend, when Surrey Street was alive with noise and colour, and Viet2Go was full up with diners slurping pho, wielding their chopsticks with alacrity over their rice bowls. I asked if they could make an iced coffee for me. “Of course”, said the lovely girl behind the counter. With condensed milk? “Yes”, she said, firmly – and I spent half an hour sitting by the door, soaking up the atmosphere, and drinking the best coffee in Croydon**.

* in my opinion.
** also in my opinion.

Cassie Whittell

Cassie Whittell

Cassie has lived in and around Croydon since 1988. She's a digital project manager and editor with a passion for welsh rarebit, cats and Rotherham United (in that order). She's also Operations Director for the Croydon Literary Festival, and Production Editor on the Croydon Citizen.

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