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Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Hanoi - Vietnamese Cuisine

Legend has it that the people of Vietnam originated from a union between an immortal Chinese princess and “The Dragon Lord of the Seas.” Vietnam is more often remembered for being a war torn country in the early 20th century, but this is actually a place that has benefited from the influence of cuisines and cultures from around the world, and then has a unique cultural touch of its own. Be it the inimitable Vietnamese Coffee, cà phê đá , or the simple but fabulous Pho. Hanoi - Vietnamese Cuisine, in Koramangala seeks to bring a slice of Vietnam into Bengaluru, and it is heartening to see that they have a wonderful understanding of Vietnamese food and culture.

Location/Ambience
Located in Koramangala 4th block, right on the main road, this place is hard to miss. It is just after Nasi and Me, if you are coming from the Sony Signal junction, and but bit before Prost, on the opposite side. The ambience here is one of understated elegance. The décor is not over the top, but has subtle elements from Vietnamese Culture, a white Vietnamese dragon welcomes you as you enter, lovely wooden furniture adds to the appeal of this place and a small mocktail counter completes the décor here.

Food
Vietnam is surrounded by China, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia and their influences on the food here is definitely palpable. An essential part of Vietnamese cuisine is the balance of the five fundamental tastes (salt, sweet, sour, bitter and spice) which corresponds to five human organs and the five human senses. Another unique feature of Vietnamese food is the use of Fish Sauce, so much as to almost use no salt. Here are some of the more memorable dishes:

Starters

Pumpkin Cream Soup (Sup tom bi do): A thick soup with the slight sweetness of pumpkin and the richness of cream, this was a decent soup, but not something I would order generally.

Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls (Nem Cuon): These rice-paper sheeted rolls had a light filling of cucumber, spring onion, coriander and rice noodles and was refreshingly light, but a bit bland for my liking.

Spicy Crispy Water Chestnut (Hot de nuoc xao cay): This was definitely my fav. Vegetarian starter, with the lovely flavor of water chestnuts tossed in a tangy-spicy sauce.

Five Spice Basa(Ca basa ap chao): We are so used to the basa fish that we get here, which rarely has any flavor. However, fresh Vietnamese basa fish has a flavor of its own, and tossed with the ever-famous five-spice Vietnamese seasoning, this too was a wonderful dish.

Spiced Mekong Delta Prawn (Tom Huong Cay): This was again a delightfully beautiful rendition of a prawn dish, with the beautiful five-spice seasoning in the background and the slight sweetness of shallots and a spring onions garnish making this a delectable dish.

Mains
Vietnamese Tamarind Crab (Cua Rang Me Nuoc thit): Crab and tamarind sounds like an impossible combination, but this marvelous dish proved that it is pretty much doable. Tamarind, chilies and a beautifully fresh crab, ensures that your meal is nothing less than superb. To extract the crab meat, you need to use your fingers, and it can get messy, but totally worth it!

Pho: A dish that probably needs no introduction, Pho is to Vietnam, what Ramen is to Japan, and Noodles is to China, a dish of national pride, with amazing deliciousness and flavors. We tried the beef pho here, and trust me when I say, this was brilliant. A soupy but not too thin broth, with a lovely cut of beef, fresh noodles, bird-eyes chilies, bean sprouts and a dash of lime made up this lovely one-meal bowl. But beware, the flavors are subtle, and the seasoning/salt is on the lower side, so if you like you food spicy, you might need to add one or more of their sauces generously, and all the condiments that they provide with the Pho.

Coconut Rice(Ben Tre): Fragrant Jasmine rice, with a hint of coconut(being cooked in coconut milk) and fresh veggies, this is a lovely, light rice dish to have with any curry item on the menu.

Desserts
Che Thai- Myriad tropical fruits with a thick base of coconut milk cream and an almost pudding consistency, the flavor is enhanced with jellies of coffee and coconut. A lovely dessert option.


Beverages
But, a Vietnamese meal is never over until you have had coffee. There is a lot of French influence on Vietnamese coffee, however, due to a paucity of readily available milk, condensed milk started being used during the early 18th century, and that gave rise to an entire range of coffee-based beverages, we now associate with Vietnam. There are two very popular varieties, and we tried them both.


Vietnamese Iced Coffee (Cà phê sữa đá) : This is formed when hot water slowly trickles down a French drip. Ice Cubes and Condensed Milk added to this make for a divine coffee variation.


Vietnamese Egg Coffee(Cà phê trững): Egg Yolks whipped with condensed milk form the top layer of this coffee. Drink through the sweet and frothy top layer, and as it combines with the lovely bitter coffee, you might taste a tiny slice of heaven in there.

Verdict: Hanoi - Vietnamese Cuisine is a restaurant that thoroughly understands the culture and the cuisine that it brings to the table, and what you get is a completely unadulterated version of Vietnamese food in Bangalore. Head here to taste your favorite Vietnamese preparation, and go here just to taste a cuisine that you might not have tried, and who knows, you might fall in love with it!

P.S.: Do try their Ginger Chili Punch Mocktail if you are looking for something cold and light, it is absolutely delicious!
Hanoi - Vietnamese Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Food Quotient: 4.5/5
Ambience Quotient: 4/5
Service Quotient: 4.5/5
Unclichéd Quotient: 5/5

The Unlichéd / Author & Editor

A Grammar Nazi. Suave, Savvy, Geeky. Calm,Impatient,Versatile. Ductile, Malleable yet Brittle beyond a point. A true-blue Gemini!