Everyone’s got that pair of shoes. The Saturday morning get some eggs and bread pair. The ‘sod it, let’s get a couple of drinks around the corner’ pair. The ‘oh Christ it’s recycling day’ pair. It doesn’t matter that they’re not your best. They’re reliable. They’re good for all kinds of things. To get by in London, you need a restaurant like those shoes. Places that are good for dates, mates, on your own, and with the family. They’re invaluable. So, next time you need somewhere off the cuff in east London, Green Papaya should definitely be considered.
Green Papaya is a bit of a hybrid in that it serves Vietnamese and Xi’anese food. This puts it in a dangerous position in London. This is a city full of faux purists obsessed with the idea of authenticity. Green Papaya isn’t like that. It proudly serves Vietnamese bun thit nem nuong alongside Chinese concupine chicken noodles. Both are delicious. They’re an excellent meal for anyone alone, and they’re under a tenner each. But in an ideal world you’re not eating on your own, because, if you’re anything like us, you like to think of the opportunity that others bring to a meal. Yes, of course, they’re good company, they’re wonderful people, and so on. But, they’re also a reason to order a greater variety of food.
Just like those faithful, faithful trainers of yours, Green Papaya isn’t just good for one thing. Everything from the familiar (summer rolls, papaya salad, crispy squid) to the less familiar (sweet potato and prawn in lettuce, xi’an pork bun) are delicious ways to start things off. From there it’s a choice of noodles, because we reckon that’s what these guys are best at. Be it bun, pho, or hot and cold xi’anese noodles, it’s tasty stuff.
And, really, that’s what you need to know. Some restaurants, like shoes, just need to be reliable. Always there for you. And, ideally, offer two for one beers before 6pm. Places where you can go at half five for a quick after work Twitter dinner, or equally, roll up with five mates after a few drinks. You don’t want to be uncomfortable in either of those situations. And that’s why everyone needs a Green Papaya in their life.
Punchy and refreshing, this should always be on the table. It’s kind of in their name after all.
Funny things, summer rolls, aren’t they? They look a bit like when you put your leftovers in cling film because there’s no Tupperware. They don’t taste like it though. These ones are nice and herby.
A kind of deep fried sweet potato waffle with prawns on top that you eat in a lettuce leaf. It’s good.
It’s crispy and it’s squid. It’s nothing new, but there’s nothing wrong with that.
This is like an OG burger. A flat bun filled with spicy, soft, shredded pork. It’s not the best we’ve had in London, but it’s good.
Are these noodles hand rolled? We’re not sure. What we are sure of is how good this dish tastes. Chicken thigh meat swims about with noodles in a salty, spicy, oily sauce. A delicious slurper.
The noodles can be a bit smooshy. But the broth is excellent. A winter and hungover-morning staple.
We love a bowl of bun. It’s the perfect harmony of meaty, minty, herby, crispy, slurpy, deliciousness. This is one of our favourites around. Always get it with spring rolls.