“Good talk saves the food” – Unknown Proverb
What better way to spend a day of school than a trip to the city. Before you object, no I was not faking a sickie, I had the day off because mock exams have started at my school and I happened to not have an exam on Wednesday and had some important errands to run. So, after having got an hour or two of biology study, Mum and I jumped on the ferry and sailed over to the city. It’s strange how we live so close to the city centre and yet I find myself sitting on the ferry, wondering when the last time I had been over and finding it was about at least a month before! Either time flies or I am not adventurous enough…or both!
The Café Hanoi is one of those underrated restaurants that don’t make a big, flamboyant appearance on the side of the street but is subtly hidden away behind a surprisingly illusive red door on the corner of Britomart. Even when you push open the heavy red door, the simple colour scheme continues indoor with splashes of red in the chairs and white lanterns around the restaurant, with a pure, earthy feel that emanates from the walls the minute you walk in.
The one problem with Café Hanoi is that it’s a hotspot for businessmen and women, so when you go in the chairs are adorned with shirts and ties and shiny shoes, but I can’t blame them, I would happily eat the food served here any day! It’s a perfect weekday lunchtime spot, especially since it is so busy on the weekends and it’s hard to tell when is the best time to catch a table.
Some would say that the menu is a little limited and maybe smaller than other restaurants with only a small selection of each type of meat, however I think that if you’ve never been here, it’s one of those places that you just have to dive in and pick something that you’ve never heard of that sounds exciting because more often than not, it will be just that. Mum said she fancied prawns before she had even walked in, and we were pleased to see that Queensland prawns were on the menu. Now, if you’ve never had prawns from Queensland, you definitely have not lived. They are proper prawns, not the small ones you get off the coast of England, but Big Momma prawns, the real deal. The dish was Wild caught Queensland prawns w coconut, garlic, shallots & dill. For $30 it does seem a little expensive but it was the most delicious prawn dish I think I have tasted in a long time and if you don’t mind getting your hands a little bit dirty and you like to play with your food like me, you’ll love this dish, I swear on it.
That dish below the coconut prawns in the picture is Stir fried wong bok w chilli paste for $8, a perfect accompaniment to both the prawns and the Chả cá – Wok seared market fish marinated in turmeric, shrimp paste, ginger & galangal w round beans, peanuts & rice noodles for $28. The most impressive thing about all three of these dishes is that no single flavour was too strong and no flavour was lost among all of the spices either, a true work of culinary art in my opinion.
Just looking back at these pictures makes me hungry for more, and I’m an absolute sucker for asian food aswell! Filling the table with bright colours and sumptuous scents, Café Hanoi certainly did not disappoint me. Agghhhhh I want to go back now! It makes me want to visit Vietnam even more than I already do. The wish list grows in length day by day.
Just to prove how good it really is, Café Hanoi has been listed under the Top 50 restaurants in Metro magazine in 2012 and Best Venue & Maitre d of the year in the 2011 Lewisham awards. Not bad, eh?
If you haven’t checked it out before, I implore that you do!
Cnr Galway and Commerce St,
P.S Sorry for not posting for such a long time! I have been so, so busy with school and work and pretty much everything has been keeping me from going to new places worth writing about and then sitting down to write about it. I am glad that I have a spare night, and hopefully I won’t leave it this long again to write.
It’s nearly the weekend guys. Make it a good one!