How have I not been here before? I can’t believe this exotic oasis is sat in the heart of Nottingham quietly offering a tropical retreat from the hustle and bustle of shoppers and commuters only meters away. Walking down the cobbled street of Byard Lane, you would not believe that this Vietnamese inspired café and bar is in England, let alone Robin Hood County.
Café Coco Tang is a, for lack of a better word, Tardis. If you haven’t yet been, when you walk in you will be greeted by their coffee bar and cake counter with overhead menus displaying all the lovely things they have on offer, including their food menu. Once you have ordered a drink and walk through, you will realise just how big this place is. I walked down from the bar, into another bar area with comfy and casual seating in all kinds of different arrangements that were overlooked by floor to ceiling windows welcoming in tons of sunshine from their shrub filled courtyard. WHERE AM I? I already felt a million miles away from the town centre.
As we sat down we saw a girl walk through and go up some stairs to our left, and she didn’t look like staff, so me being the curious gal I am, followed her. Okay, not in a creepy “come back, I want to smell your hair” kind of way, I just wanted to know where she was going. And I am so glad I did. Once upstairs the landing opened up into a remarkably unexpected escape from the city. The wall to the right of the dining tables was windowed and overlooking the courtyard, and the tables all had huge palm’s growing through the middle of them, that really gave a did-I-just-step-off-a-plane-vibe. To the left, glass doors that led on to a roof terrace, which in 27-degree heat, really did feel like a vacation spot. So anyway, I’m still walking around with my mouth open at this point like.. what?! This place is ridiculously cool. Even the music was a mix of Reggae songs like Taxman- Lucky Dube and Nostalgic pop rock like Teenage Dirtbag-Wheetus, I wanted to just spend the whole day here and work from the comfort of this paradise.
We ordered some drinks, and after the debate of which drink would be the most refreshing for the weather but also give me a wake-up boost, I chose the coconut and banana iced latte. it was a frickin’ delight. We took no time at all deciding what to eat. Chris went with the Prawn banh cuon and the Vietnamese soft shell crab and I chose the Vegetable banh cuon and Cha Cha Thang. I don’t think words can possibly do justice to the banh cuon. Simply delicious. The homemade sauces are absolutely divine, the hoisin was particularly good and I kept topping my dish with it for dunking my roll into. The banh cuon was stuffed with tofu and vegetables and had the perfect mix of textures. My Cha Cha thang was just out of this world. I love sticky rice and mixing the turmeric fish into it and scooping it up with some of the bok choy and adding MORE dipping sauce, made it incredible. Chris loved his Crab dish, even more so when he realised it came with rice noodles, so he was super happy slurping away between banh cuon’s stuffed with shrimp.
Over all I was hugely impressed with Café Coco Tang, the décor, the space, the drinks and THE FOOD. Wow. I can’t wait to go back – maybe later in the day so I can justify trying a cocktail or two!