Plonked on the corner of Monkseaton’s Front Street, what was once a tired sarnie shop is now a trendy foodie spot, open for brunch, lunch and dinner. It’s easy to pass this one by – but you really shouldn’t. Especially if you’re a local (it may become a firm weekend favourite) and especially harbour a love for authentic Vietnamese and Thai flavours. You don’t expect to stumble across such sophisticated dishes in what’s essentially a little corner cafe, but they’re very much there – and oh-so restaurant worthy. A great little find for all you foodies out there.
Stormy blue-grey walls, specials on blackboards, funky hanging lights and foliage (lots of lush green plants in fact), scuffed wooden tables (and bar) and a temperature that resembles that of Thailand. Well, kind of. It’s warm – let’s say that. But it’s lovely – making you feel like you’ve just sneaked off on holiday or something. You can smell the faint hum of chilli and garlic from the kitchen – and the roasted coffee too. It’s a comforting, blissed-out place. Nab a sofa, decked out with pillows, at the back and get your zen on.
Tons of tea, all your basic wine, cool beer from around the globe – Thailand, Japan, Iceland, New Zealand and Laos to name a few – and a super delish gin menu. There are currently six to choose from and we’re slowly making our way through the list during our coastal jaunts. Try the King of Soho (£5.95 for a single, £8.95 for a double) if you like your tipples spicy – it’s a mix of Juniper pine, citrus oil and a mix of herbs and spices, served with lemon thyme. If you like things sweeter, the Hoxton (£5.95 for a single, £7.95 for a double), which blends gin with coconut, grapefruit and iris, is a must-try.
If you’ve ever wondered what South Asian brunch tastes like, you can find out here. Though the plates pack a punch whichever you route you venture down – morning munch or early evening grub. Dinner diners in the mood for something more delicate can choose from dishes such as mellow and coconutty market fish curry, steamed dumplings (either pork or veg) and traditional Pad Thai, or go all out with things like beef shin curry (slow-cooked for eight hours), Vietnamese caramelised pork belly or salt and sichuan peppercorn ribs. Veggies and vegans should try the delectable roasted sweet potato and cashew nut curry – though there are other meat-free options too. For brunch, think toasty winners that marry eggs and avo, Asian-style soups and salads and good-for-you Buddha bowl-like creations. Keep an eye on the ever-changing blackboards for super specials and sweet treats.
What we ate
We popped in mid-morning, armed with hunger pains that could only be eased by hearty portions of brunchy goodness and tastebuds that needed something in between sweet and salty. Fortunately, we got just that. For a protein hit, our chum stayed safe with OMNI’s version of avo and eggs on toast (£7.95)- but it ended up being a clever choice. Toppled over a hunk of warm, crusty sourdough was a small mountain of scrambled egg; silky, creamy and super fresh, made perfect with wedges of salty feta and spring onions running through it and a generous sprinkle of chilli, cumin, cayenne and rocket for smoky heat. Portion size was spot on too – really filling and satisfying. We opted for Hanoi’s Pho Bo (£12.95) – a mellow beef bone broth, gently simmered with charred shallots and ginger, served with flat rice noodles, topside beef (served baby pink – perfect), coriander, mint and a few sprigs of basil. We ordered it not really knowing what we were getting ourselves into, but ended up slurping our way through it like there was no tomorrow. Great soul food, if you ask us – Asia’s answer to chicken soup perhaps? Non meat-eaters can swap the beef for tofu or oyster mushroom.
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