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Hà Nội delicacies under one roof

by Minh Thu

Hà Nội delicacies under one roof
STREET STYLE: Bun chả (grilled pork and noodles) being prepared in an open kitchen at Ha Noi Băm Sau. VNS Photo Minh Thu

The Ha Noi Băm Sau Restaurant boasts a wonderful menu ranging from snacks to main courses and desserts. To get the meal underway, you could try a few of the snacks that are popular among Hanoians.

These dishes include nom (green papaya, carrot and beef salad), boiled snails, ha cảo chien (fried dumplings), banh bot lọc (steamed cassava dumplings), banh ran mặn (salty glutinous rice balls), and banh gối (pillow cake).

Given how delicious these are, remember to stop nibbling at some point and leave some space for the rest of the evening. And what delights await, with its mains being a strong point of the restaurant, bursting with the authentic taste of Ha Noi. It’s the ideal place for groups, because everyone can find something that suits on the menu.

Mains include signature Ha Noi dishes such as phở (noodle soup), bun chả (grilled pork and rice vermicelli), bun thang (vermicelli soup with chicken, pork sausage, mushroom, and turnip pickle), and bun ốc (snail and vermicelli).

When I visited and tried the bun bò Nam Bo (Southern-style rice vermicelli with stir-fried beef), I found I had been wrong about the origin of the dish. And I’m quite certain that many others have been likewise mistaken. Nam Bo, or The South, is the former name of Le Duẩn Street (where the Ha Noi Railway Station is located), and not “southern-style dish”, as I had always believed.

The dish was originally created by a woman living on the former Nam Bo Street. The fresh rice vermicelli and other ingredients are mixed together with a dressing that combines sweet, sour and salty taste, unlike beef vermicelli served with broth in the Huế style. It was amazing to visit and learn I had been wrong for so long about the name of the dish.

Its desserts and drinks are also Ha Noi delicacies, with great meals capped off with West Lake lotus scented tea, ca phe Giảng (a famous brand of traditional coffee), or tapioca juice.

ROLL UP: Grilled squid balls with salted dried apricot sauce – a wrap-and-roll dish balancing tastes and harmony colours. VNS Photo Minh Thu

Any talk of Ha Noi cuisine must include chả ca (grilled fish). The dish is served on a hot pan, where yellow pieces of fish are stir-fried with spring onions and aromatic herbs. Condiments include mắm tom (shrimp paste), roasted peanuts, and red chilli.

The fish is fried in pork fat instead of vegetable oil. I like this cooking style, because the smell is more appealing and the taste more delicious.

Another recommendation is grilled squid balls served with rice vermicelli, slices of ginger, garlic, chilli, herbs, and star fruit. All of the ingredients are wrapped in rice paper then dipped in an amazing salted dried apricot sauce. Like me, you’ll be surprised by the different tastes bursting in your mouth.

The restaurant is the perfect destination for those seeking the authentic taste of traditional Ha Noi dishes. It was inspired by the book Ha Noi Băm Sau Phố Phường (36 Streets of Ha Noi) by Thạch Lam, which is considered not only the first but also the most complete book about Ha Noi cuisine. As the book is not just about food but also the connection between food and culture and society in Viet Nam’s capital, the restaurant’s walls have murals with images of beautiful spaces around Ha Noi while the air is filled with famous classical songs of the city.

Though the restaurant has only been open for two weeks, I’ve already been there several times to try the different dishes on the menu. While some could do with an upgrade, the Ha Noi Băm Sau Restaurant boasts a great location looking over the railway line and the Hang Đậu Water Tower, which reminds me of classic images of Ha Noi.

Inside, its open kitchens are designed in a street vendor style to make customers feel as though they are enjoying some of Ha Noi famed delicacies by the roadside. VNS

GENUINE TASTE: Chả ca (grilled fish) in the authentic Ha Noi culinary style. VNS Photo Minh Thu

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