Dining Vietnamese outside of Footscray, Richmond and Springvale almost feels like a travesty to me. However, Hanoi Hannah’s slogan “Sex, drugs and rice paper rolls” proved too catchy to ignore.
That’s how PixelAnt and I popped in here one Friday evening, and boy was the crowd big… not to mention not particularly Asian.
Not that I expected it to be Asiany… the bar’s in Prahran, for crying out loud, boo! And looking at how fashionably styled this little joint is (draperies, raw bricks, bar focus, red lights, street menu), I’m not surprised it’s that busy.
cheeky rascal pear cider -9.5
lick pier ginger beer 4 percent -15
I placed my name on the list and, despite the huge waiting queue and tiny venue, we got our table within 20 mins. Not bad!
peking duck rice paper roll -6
We started off with these delectable rice paper rolls. That section of the menu was hilariously titled ‘i’m gonna roll ya’.
The rolls were freshly made with the correct resilient / elastic (rather than premade / dried-out) texture, and the duck was also fresh with nice crisp skin. Enjoyable.
pork belly sliders -8
Pork belly has been an unavoidable Melbourne restaurant phenomenon for a number of years now. And why not? It’s an affordable cut of meat BUT with winsome melty fat that, when cooked properly, makes it taste sooooo divine.
These yummy sliders came from the section of the menu titled ‘you’re so street’. Ha ha! They were nicely crisped up with a soy glaze, alongside a (forgive me for saying this) KFC-like coleslaw, and then packed into a petite brioche bun.
crispy soft shell crab -12
We also enjoyed a serve of soft shell crab, once again nicely crisped up and tasty. My only comment was that it could’ve been served warmer.
Rare beef salad w/ sesame crackers -12
We ended with a serve of salad thinking it’d suit that evening’s warm weather. However, it turned out to be my least favourite dish because it was quite heavy on sweetness and citrus, with light hints of herbs like Vietnamese mint.
Once there’s a certain level of sweetness in my savory dishes, no matter how much citrus is used to balance that out, I tend to still feel a bit queasy. Also, some of the pieces of beef in it were cooked through rather than rare.
Hanoi Hannah isn’t a classic Vietnamese joint and it definitely isn’t trying to pretend to be one, but quite a few of their dishes were pretty good.
My main gripe with this place was: they really try to get you in and out as fast as possible so as to have a fast turnover. You can sense they don’t really want you to linger. The bill is placed on your table very quickly, after the dishes are cleared, and without you needing to ask.
All that said, I might come back on a cooler day, at a less busy time, and try their pho… which purportedly doesn’t contain MSG. I think MSG-free pho is something I’ve never tried in my life! ;)