The best thing about Hanoi, apart from the sights, is food. Glorious food.
No argument about that. Sweet, herby and tangy—what’s not to love about Vietnamese food?
Now you can get bun cha or pho from just about any sidewalk eatery or stall, and they would be just as good as—or even better—than those served in fancy restaurants. But if you’d like to try a different take on local food or are feeling a little bit fancy, we recommend these must-try restaurants in Hanoi.
Madame Hien was the brainchild of esteemed French chef Didier Corlou of La Verticale fame. Set in a restored French colonial villa, Madame Hien is a perfect setting for that special lunch or dinner. The villa gives off a Spanish mansion-type of vibe, the kind where you spent hot summer afternoons doing literally nothing. (And who’s to complain about that?)
The restaurant was Corlou’s homage to his wife’s Vietnamese grandmother. The wide range of delectable dishes resonate with the theme of paying tribute to Vietnamese family matriarchs everywhere. The menu transports you to a typical Vietnamese home, where hearty dishes guaranteed to warm hearts and stomachs.
A fixed menu would set you back around $25, although that amount could easily pay for two ala carte dishes for two to four people. We ordered the famed bun cha, which came with a how-to-eat demo from a wait staff, as well as a filling stir-fried dish that has nuts, basil and other leafy greens and meat. Expect the service to be busy from the early evening to as late as 10 to 11, so come early if you don’t have a reservation.
Address: 15 Chan Cam Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi 10000, Vietnam
Phone number: +84 4 3938 1588
Green Tangerine is a Franco-Viet fusion restaurant in Hanoi that is no doubt on every foodie and tourist’s radar. Known throughout the country for its innovative haute cuisine, another reason to visit the place is its ideal location—a colonial villa—set against the backdrop of Hang Be’s busy, commercial environment.
Co-founded by biological engineer-cum-chef Stephane Yvin, it’s no surprise that the restaurant’s approach to dishes is scientific, in that there’s this esoteric formula to it. Each dish was calculated, with spontaneous flavors juxtaposed against another and designed in such a way that you’ll never know what you’re going to get.
The unspoken rule is to leave your expectations at the door: Case in point—if you’re expecting a Chinese-inspired sweet and sour combo, expect the sourness factor to be amped up to a “hair standing on end” level. Also, forget about the Chinese bit—there’s barely any trace of that culinary influence, as opposed to the typical Vietnamese dish that you’re wont to try elsewhere.
The set lunch and dinner menus offer diners an economical option to sample everything great the restaurant has to offer. I made an underwhelming decision of ordering sweet and spicy spare ribs, which is good but did not necessarily memorable. My companion, on the other hand, went with the beef carpaccio. Her order was heavenly; my dessert, however, made up for it—a whimsical take on the cronut.
Overall, it only took us some 300,000 vnd or P750.00 in our currency (roughly US $15). Upscale food is insanely expensive in Manila (P3,500 for a three-course meal), so this is naturally a treat for us. The menu is intriguing and enough to make us go back twice.
Address: 48 Hang Be Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, Vietnam
Phone number: Tel: (+84) 243.825.1286
There’s a lot to be said about Hanoi food (and coffee). If you’ve exhausted your options for pho in the city, and would like to aim for something different, then these two restaurants are worth considering.
Ever been to other hyped restaurants in Hanoi? Share it with our readers in the comments section below.