Before I get started, please note that this post will be a gushing write up of how much I love Cafe Coco Tang Nottingham. Located on Byard Lane, it’s a narrow restaurant that extends back and up.
Focusing on traditional Vietnamese food and speciality coffee, it is a beautiful venue serving beautiful food.
You order at the counter and they give you a number, you sit down at your chosen table and they bring everything to you as and when it’s ready.
Cafe Coco Tang is spread over a couple of floors and depending on whether you wish to sit outside or inside will decide which floor is for you. There are 160 seats across the two floors so you should always get a seat (which is good as they don’t accept reservations!)
On the ground floor you have the takeout and ordering area, the bar and a large seating area with various size tables and chairs. I’ve sat here a lot and there is always a great atmosphere.
The first floor is split into two areas. The first is a casual shared seating area full of indoor tropical trees in traditional Vietnamese Planters – all exported from Ho Chi Minh City. It reminded me of sitting in one of the tiny street kitchens in Tam Coc in Vietnam.
The second area is a roof garden, again with lots of greenery but with the added value of a view to the kitchen. This was really lovely and reminded me again of the street food vendors I experienced in Vietnam during my travels across the country.
The decor of each of the areas is incredibly special. 5 feet high facial portraits adorn the walls created by an artist called @Matetwoinit on Instagram. Check out their artwork as it really is incredible.
On to the drinks. Cafe Coco Tang roast their own coffee at the rear of the premises. Now I know very little about coffee but friends say it is great. Sorry, go check it out for yourself! You can also grab a traditional Vietnamese coffee from here made with condensed milk. Every street stall in Vietnam sells this, it is a staple in the country. There are also a range of teas on offer if you prefer along with a selection of single origin Vietnamese chocolates available as hot drinks. It is apparently the UK’s first creation.
They also have a huge bar with a great variety of drinks so knock yourself out and have a couple of cocktails or beers with your dinner.
Now on to my favourite part, the amazing food coming out of the kitchen. All the food is cooked fresh and follows authentic recipes from across Vietnam.
First up is the soft shell crab. Lightly battered, these two crabs are perched on a bed of rice noodles and pickled salad. It is absolutely huge and incredibly tasty. We had something similar in a restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City.
Then we have BBQ chicken. These chicken thighs are barbecued in a ginger and lemongrass glaze and served with white rice and pak choi. I love the crunch of the pak choi and the BBQ chicken is sweet, sticky and absolutely bloody delicious. Again it’s a great sized portion and you may only need the one dish to fill you up.
Next we have minced belly pork Bun Cha patties with Vietnamese herbs and rice noodles with a homemade fish sauce. Again these are a brilliant dish and are a great starter. You get 4 patties and a generous serving of noodles. I love these chewy, lightly spicy cakes.
Next up are the best BBQ Hoi Sin Ribs I have ever eaten. The portion is huge (usually 8-10 per plate) and they are sticky, sweet little ribs of joy. OK so one or two are usually more fat than meat but you will spent ages licking the sauce off your fingers and you will have a smile on your face as you do so. They are delicious.
There’s also salt and pepper chicken wings, covered in garlic and chilli and served with a spicy dip. These are great but there obviously isn’t much meat on each wing so I would order something to go with it. The spicy sauce is always ‘blow your head off’ spicy so I avoid that and use the sweet chilli sauce that comes on the table instead.
Then we have Vietnamese spring rolls made with veggies and tofu. I didn’t even realise there was tofu in them to be honest. I was too busy dipping them into the sweet chilli sauce. They arrive piping hot and lovely and golden brown from their time in the fryer.
We also added the ‘Asian Greens’ which turned out to be just tenderstem broccoli and green beans. Skip this if you want my opinion.
There are a few other dishes on the menu such as Pho, a traditional Vietnamese dish made from beef and broth and packed full of veggies. To be honest, I think there are much better dishes on the menu but it is a staple in Vietnam as it is inexpensive to make but still tasty. There are also BBQ skewers, turmeric fish, tofu salad and a Vietnamese vermicelli dish for you to try along with other sides.
My verdict on Cafe Coco Tang is that it is one of the best restaurants for lunch or dinner under £15pp. the food is fantastic and the setting is so pretty. I really could have been sat in a cafe in Hanoi! Let me know if you have visited, and if not, would this review make you want to?