Hanoi Vietnamese Cuisine is an appealing restaurant, set up in the Phoenix Market City at Whitefield, Bangalore. The name Hanoi comes from the capital of Vietnam – Hanoi, the second largest and one of the most popular cities of the country, it is the city where modern day transitions share ground with old architectural masterpieces. The restaurant would not have come into the picture if Nirav and Diep, would not have met, their story is no less than a fairytale, a Gujju boy and a Vietnamese girl met at culinary school, studied together, love blossomed and they got married. During one of their visits to Diep’s hometown Hanoi, an idea struck to Nirav to start a Vietnamese restaurant in Bangalore and they both left no stone unturned to bring that idea into life and the result is – Hanoi Vietnamese Cuisine.
The ambiance of the place is simple yet cozy, with lovely pictures of Hanoi captured by Diep, each frame depicts a story about the city and it’s people. Nirav was our Chef and the host for the evening, owner of chirpy and energetic personality Nirav knows his ingredients and kitchen well, while discussing he shared that they import most of the sauces from Vietnam to maintain the authenticity of the cuisine and Diep always makes sure to consult cooks in her family back in Hanoi before working on any new dish for the restaurant to know more about the originality of the dish.
It was the Chef’s table so most of the dishes for the evening Chef Nirav and his team prepared at the live station in front of us, while his team started stirring pots and steamers to satiate our growling appetite we munched on rice crackers served with a variety of dips. We started with two kinds of soup – Sup tom bi do (A pumpkin, prawn, and cream soup) and Sup Bap Cai Cucon Thit (Vietnamese style stuffed cabbage packages in broth, I choose chicken stuffing in cabbage packages) both the soups were extremely flavorful and served at right temperature. Those delicate cabbage packages were tied up with spring onion greens and stuffing inside was well cooked. Vietnamese Cuisine is much more than just rice paper rolls but if it is Vietnamese Cuisine then there have to be dumplings – Banh Cuon(Traditional Vietnamese steamed rolls with choice of filling), we all were meat lovers so chicken filling for the rolls was obvious choice, rolls were extremely well done and up-to my liking.
Another round of appetizers we had Gao Xao Ot (Chicken marinated with lemon grass prepared in Vietnamese Style), Ca Basa ap Chao (Basa fillets marinated in homemade five spice powder and pan grilled) both the dishes were my favorite from the entire menu of the evening especially lemon grass chicken was equally tender as basa and marinated so well that lemongrass flavor could be tasted even in the underneath layers of chicken.
For the main course, I choose Vietnamese Special Pho – Pho is a Vietnamese national dish, in which aromatic and delicious rice noodle soup served with fresh herbs, meat, sea food and leafy vegetables. I usually love the idea of one pot meal whether it is Pho or Ramen, I slurp them all and so I did with my large bowl of Pho at Hanoi. But the show stopper of the main course was Cau Rang Me Nu’oc thit (Fresh water crab gravy cooked with tamarind and chili) the dish originated in the coastal region of Vietnam and as they say best way to devour a crab is with your fingers, extract all the sweet crab meat from the shells and slurp up the delicious sauce.
After delectable medley of delicate flavors for the main course for dessert we had Che Thai (a version of Thailand’s tub tim grab, the Vietnamese version is less sweet and uses a variety of fruits, coconut jelly), I think Che Thai was not served at right temperature because of which it didn’t taste very much appealing, Chuoi Chien (deep fried banana fritter served with sweet coconut and peanut dipping sauce) and Kem(Vietnamese Homemade Ice Creams – lemongrass, basil, pineapple, moong bean, cinnamon with apple, betel leaf and coconut with rose petals) all the flavors were absolute delight, I always have a thing for unusual ice cream flavors and with a platter full of such out of the box flavors I was in seventh heaven.
This time I missed Vietnamese Coffee maybe next time I am going to visit the place only to enjoy their Vietnamese Coffee.