Friday, 10 October 2014

Chef's table at Hanoi Vietnamese Cuisine

A chef's table was organized on 10th October, 2014 at Hanoi Vietnamese Cuisine, First floor, F69, Phoenix Market City Mall, Whitefield, Bangalore - 560048. It is an authentic Vietnamese restaurant in Bangalore.

The restaurant is named after Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam and the country's second largest city. October 2010 officially marked 1000 years since the establishment of the city. Hanoi has rich culinary traditions. Many of Vietnam's most famous dishes, such as pho, cha ca, banh cuon and com are believed to have originated from Hanoi.

Pic courtesy: Hanoi Vietnamese Cuisine's facebook page

The evening started with Chef Nirav introducing us to the restaurant, menu for evening and the ingredient's which goes into the making of every dish. We were seated around the live cooking station and watched most of our dishes being made. Most of the dishes are made in Nuocham which is fish sauce and for vegetarian, soy sauce is used. Peanut sauce and sesame sauce was also placed on the table. We munched on some crackers with the sauces before the soups were served.

2 soup's (sup) were served. The first one was Pumpkin cream soup with prawn (sup tom bi do), the taste was just perfect and the taste of every ingredient was evident. This soup can be served with chicken and vegetables too but prawn is the traditional choice.

sup tom bi do
The second one was Stuffed cabbage pillows in clear broth (sup bap cai cuon thit). I tasted the cabbage pillows stuffed with chicken and beef where beef was a clear winner. The meat was stuffed with cabbage in fresh lettuce and tied together with spring onion. The clear broth was prepared and the stuffed pillows were added and cooked. The taste of the soup was clear and very soothing to the throat, perfect for a cold weather. Adding some fish sauce to the soup, enhanced the taste.

sup bap cai cuon thit in the making

sup bap cai cuon thit
For appetizer, we started with Traditional delicate rice rolls prepared using a steamer with chicken stuffing (banh cuon). Have it when served hot else the rice rolls tend to moist.

banh cuon - veg
banh cuon - Chicken
The second appetizer which was cooked in front of us and served was Vietnamese basa marinated in traditional five spice mix and grilled to perfection (Ca basa ap chao). Vietnamese basa is much softer than Indian basa and the taste of every spice was enhancing the taste of basa.

Ca basa ap chao in the making

Ca basa ap chao
The third appetizer was Cua Rang Me. It was Vietnamese Crab cooked in tamarind and chili along with spices, this recipe originated from coastal cuisine. The best way to gorge on the crab is to eat with hands while you extract all the sweet meet from the shells, legs and claws and lick the delicious tangy sauce. I thoroughly enjoyed every morsel of the dish. In south Vietnam, the sauce is spicy while in the north Vietnam, it has more of tamarind taste.

Cua Rang Me
The fourth appetizer was Ga xao xa ot which was some Chicken thigh fillet marinated with lemon grass and herbs and left it overnight before grilling the chicken to perfection. People who love lemon grass should try this.

Ga xao xa ot 
The last appetizer was Suon Ran chua cay which was Spare Pork ribs cooked in hot, sweet and sour sauce which is a pineapple based sauce. I did not try this one as I do not eat pork.

Suon Ran chua cay
Vietnam's national dish Pho has been named as one of the Top 5 street food in the world by Globalpost.
Pho is served in a bowl with a specific cut of white rice noodles in clear broth, with slim cuts of meat and fresh vegetables. The broth for pho is generally made by simmering vegetables, charred onion, charred ginger and spices. For a non vegetarian broth, chicken/beef is added in a similar mix of spices and charred ginger and onion.

For main course, I chose to have Pho Bo which was Beef noodle soup with rice noodles. It was a nourishing bowl of flat rice noodles in a clear broth which is also a staple food of Vietnam. Pho Bo is my favorite and I can always have a complete meal out of it. Adding some vegetables and fish/soy sauce, enhanced the taste and made me crave for it more. It is surely much more than soup.

Pho Bo
Before moving to desserts, I tasted Chuoi Chien which were Banana fritters with a coconut dipping sauce. I like the fruit and hence enjoyed every bite dipped in coconut sauce which was garnished with peanuts.

Chuoi Chien
For desserts, we first had Cem which are Local Vietnamese flavors of home made ice creams. The different flavors which we tried were Chocolate Chilli, Green Tea, Wasabi, Sitaphal (custard apple), Betel leaves, Basil and Coconut cream. Well, we wiped the ice cream in few minutes and chose our favorites.

The last dessert which we had was Che Thai, a version of Thailand's Tub Tim grawb but the Vietnamese version is less sweet and contains variety of fruits including jack fruit  apple, banana, coconut, pomegranate, waterchesnut and coffee jelly. Tub Tim grawb when translated means crunchy ruby and hence all the fruits are mixed with chilled coconut cream topped with peanuts. A very simple and tasty dessert I have had so far.

Che Thai
I couldn't leave the place without having Ca phe sua nong (Vietnamese milk coffee hot). At its simplest,  it is made with finely ground Vietnamese-grown dark roast coffee individually brewed with a small metal French drip filter (ca phe phin) into a cup containing about a quarter to a half as much sweetened condensed milk, stirred and had hot.

Ca phe sua nong
To end the post I would say that I am visiting Hanoi Vietnamese Cuisine again to try the other authentic Vietnamese dishes as I have grown fondness towards it. The dishes are made from simple flavors but rich in taste. I cannot pick one appetizer as my favorite as i loved it all. Lunch buffet option is also available every weekdays, Monday to Friday, a healthy full four course spread with options of both Vegetarian and Non Vegetarian at just Rs.549 plus taxes. Chef Nirav and his entire brigade were very courteous and took care of us and every dish which was served to us. Hence, this place remains my FAVORITE VIETNAMESE restaurant in Bangalore.

Let me know your favorite's in the comments so that I can try that in my next visit.