Discovering the fresh and clean flavours of great Vietnamese food still feels like a recent experience for me, even though it is now over a decade ago. When memories are that vivid, there is something special about them.
Having enjoyed a good amount of quality pho, and rice paper rolls in the past, my first time at Hanoi Hannah a few years back triggered an even more passionate spark for the modern slant on Vietnamese that is prevalent around the world. There is no denying that an excellent bahn mi, a firm rice paper roll containing a quality protein, or a deeply flavoured pho, are some of the most comforting dishes available.
This is weird, but I would have eaten at Hanoi Hannah only about once for every ten times I think about it! For some reason it is never convenient, often not through distance but the knowledge that it’s popularity means I’m a good chance of making the journey only to be turned away. Today is different because Catherine has a late lunch, meaning that a 1.45pm start is as easy as pie, or the Vietnamese equivalent.
There is some added pressure though. With only a short lunch break, I am in charge of getting a table, and ordering everything early. Metaphorically eating pressure for lunch, I order the lime and pepper calamari, yellowfin tuna rice paper rolls, and porkbelly sliders, along with a homemade lemonade, and a can of Bia Hanoi. I would take credit, but in my experience you cannot go wrong with any dish on the menu, so it was a piece of cake.
The calamari is very tender, needing only an extra dash of lime to be perfect. With a hint of wasabi mayo, the yellowfin tuna is wrapped in a firm rice paper, exhibiting all the freshness and quality you would hope for in this less usual offering. The porkbelly sliders are housed in a brioche bun for a some more richness, and are great, but overshadowed by the former dishes.
There is a vibe at Hanoi Hannah that is hard to duplicate. The staff are energised, even on the day following Australia Day celebrations. They enjoy their time, and must be proud of the product they get to sell.
Any time is a good time to eat at Hanoi Hannah. While there might be a wait on many occasions, it is undoubtably worth it.