Strength: Delectable Northern Vietnamese cuisine
Weakness: Spring rolls are usually a little oily.
Hanoi Old Quarter Restaurant is opened by the owner of Mr. Red Cafe. Most of the Vietnamese restaurants in Vancouver feature Southern Vietnam cuisine (ie. Saigon food). For the longest time, I thought pho was the only thing Vietnamese people eat. Then come along Mr. Red Cafe, the award-winning chef bringing us the Northern cuisine of Vietnam. Now Mr. Red Cafe’s new restaurant is opened on Victoria Drive near East 34th Avenue.
We did some research before coming here and realized “Hanoi Old Quarter” is actually the capital of Vietnam. Shocked, we know we must come and see if this new restaurant lived up to the standard the chef has set for himself.
Interior Space Looks Like Vietnam.
Hanoi Old Quarter Restaurant has a lot of similar decoration elements from Mr. Red Cafe. The straw roof over the cashier is an interesting touch. The mural on the left wall is very well done as well.
Interior Decor Strikes Visual Interest
We can still see imitating brick wallpaper around the store. This feature wall looks particularly interesting. It showcased some of the ingredients with wood fence and masks made from straw plate.
There is a bamboo shelf on the side of the cashier. There are some items of interest such as fishing basket, and miniature boats. My mind is drawn to the daily life of people in Vietnam. There is even a lost and found tray at the bottom of this shelf.
The Interior Space Is Very Colorful
Good Natural Light
The natural soft sunlight shines through the East-facing storefront glazing. It gives this wall very pleasant lighting. We came around lunchtime. The front door was open to allow ventilation. It was hot outside, but the interior space was very cool. I thought they had the air conditioning unit on. Hanoi Old Quarter Restaurant has a very pleasant environment.
New Chairs Are Quite Comfy
They preserved the bamboo finishes for the chairs on the perimeter. We can see new black chairs at every table. I sat on them and thought they were very comfortable. The finishes are something similar to pleather with matt finish.
Same Condiment As Mr. Red Cafe
Hanoi Old Quarter Restaurant has condiments on every table. These are the same as the ones at Mr. Red Cafe. I am glad to see them here because they go really well with the dishes.
The waitress asked if we would like to have water or tea. We thought about it and said water because the weather was quite hot. she immediately told us that the tea is iced and we were converted right away. I did not take a photo of the iced tea, but they were really nice. Not too strong with a hint of almost undetectable sweetness.
Prawn and Pork Spring Roll
I never thought I would ever say this, but the Prawn and Pork Spring rolls are crunchy and soft. They break off easily to the bite, so not much effort is required when eating these. The exterior is quite oily like the crabmeat spring roll at Mr. Red Cafe. I think this is supposed to be the authentic way.
The spring rolls are puffy. There are some minced mushrooms, carrots, glass noodles as part of the filling. We can also see prawns and minced pork inside. However, the main ingredients are veggies and there isn’t a lot of prawn or pork. The taste is a little bit lacking if you eat it along. The fish sauce dipping on the side can add a lot of flavour to the spring rolls.
Grilled Pork Belly & Patties
This is a cold dish that is very refreshing to eat during Summer. The presentation is awesome. The use of straw plate and banana leaf transformed this dish to something more exotic. When the waitress brought this dish to us, I could still see the vermicelli bouncing left and right.
The key to this dish is the freshness of its ingredients. Aside from the Grilled pork belly and the pork patties. All the herbs are very crispy. The different flavours of the herbs are very subtle. We have cucumber, mint, lettuce, celery, basil, and bean sprout on the side. Perhaps 1 to 2 more herbs I cannot name. They will come out and surprise you with their unique fragrance when you are not paying too much attention to them.
The grilled pork belly and pork patties are soaked in fish sauce with fermented veggie. The soup is sweet and sour with a little kick of spicy. They taste really good. However, I find the thinly sliced bacon-style pork belly a little tough to the bite. Similarly to the pork patties a little tough on the outside. The pork pattie’s interior is quite tender.
Deep Fried Chicken Wings
The Deep Fried Chicken Wings have very well presented. They are stacked uniformly. On the side, we see seasonings of salt, pepper, MSG and some herbs with a slice of lemon on the side. The waitress explained to us that we are supposed to squeeze the lemon into the seasoning mix and use them as a dipping sauce. We followed her instruction. The saltiness in the seasoning really brings out the taste of lemon. Adding all those flavour of the deep-fried chicken really enhanced the chicken wings.
The exterior of the chicken wings is not crispy. They are soft and crunchy like the spring rolls, but less oily. Interior of the chicken wings is tender and juicy. This is a very well done dish.
This is just a picture of the seasonings before mixing with the lemon juice.
My Adventure With The Egg Coffee
I was feeling adventurous and ordered Egg Coffee. This is something I have never seen on any other menu. The egg coffee is served in a cup that is partially submerged in warm water. The waitress asked if I have had this before and patiently explain how to consume this interesting looking beverage.
I stir the coffee like how I was instructed. The color becomes darker as the egg mix with the espresso coffee below. Somehow, the top layer was able to retain its firmness. I had a sip. The coffee tastes very eggy and foamy. There is a significant taste of sweetness from condensed milk.
Egg coffee is very foamy and thick. Perhaps I did not stir them enough. This drink is very hearty. It tastes pretty good, but not refreshing. I’ll probably stick with iced coffee for the Summer.
604 Food Critic Assessment
Hanoi Old Quarter Restaurant is a new Vietnamese serving Northern Vietnam cuisine. It cost us $25 per person, and I think that is a fair price for the quality of food. The waitress is very polite and friendly. She provides very good service. It is worth noting that the vermicelli from our entree is refillable if the portion is not big enough.