I like Vietnamese food as much as the next person (Vietnamese loving people especially), and I’ve been eager to explore nearby Deptford, a place fast becoming a hub of Vietnamese restaurants. After Lizzie over at the lovely Hollow Legs http://lizzieeatslondon.blogspot.com/2010/04/panda-panda-deptford.html reviewed newly opened Panda Panda, I had the push I needed to make my way down there.
Occupying a small but airy site on the very urban (read concrete and a bit grim) Deptford Broadway, Panda Panda is effectively a Vietnamese cafe with a small but perfectly formed menu of a clutch of Vietnamese salads, rolls, and a lot of banh mi. Banh Mi are basially mega Asian baguettes. I’m not a big sandwich lover (bread is never my best mate), but even I can see that sticking Asian ingredients and chilli in a baguette is always going to make it better. I’ve had disappointing versions of banh mi at Caphe House on Bermondsey Street before (stingy ingredients, bread a bit meh). Having never been to Vietnam, I can’t claim to be any form of expert. I can say though that the versions at Panda Panda are damn tasty.
I went for the mega pork version, consisting of pork, pate and tasty ham. Add in some crunchy pickled vegetables and a good dose of chilli and coriander and you’re onto something good. The boyfriend went for the Panda Panda special (I think there was chicken in there) and from the hoover like demolition of it, I think I can safely say he liked it. Of special mention is the bread at Panda Panda. That baguette was seriously good. From talking to the owner (who is very lovely and friendly), it appears they’ve taken a long time to source a top quality baguette that they can be happy with.
Alongside this, we also got a salad of grilled pork. The dressing could have had a bit more oomph, but the grilled pork was really good. Next time I’m keen to try the HK style fish balls and the pork with noodles.
Panda Panda also has a great selection of bubble drinks. My inner child always comes out with bubble drinks on the menu - there is something just so stupidly silly about having a drink with tapioca balls in it. However, on this occasion I plumped for a red bean and coconut drink instead, which was really good. This was pretty much pudding in a glass, but this didn’t stop me from also getting a taro and coconut pudding. All I can say is, if you like coconut and slightly gelatinous textures, you will love this. I do, and I did.
Panda Panda deserves to do well. It’s obviously been put together with a lot of love, and they are serving some great food in an easy, informal environment. Moreover, it’s damn cheap. And they have the best, most cutest panda logo and branding ever. I look forward to going back.
8 Deptford Broadway
020 8616 6922
Nearest transport: Deptford Bridge DLR, or New Cross overground
Price: very cheap (came to around £10 each - but remember it’s cash only)