We get a taste of Vietnam at new JLT café 5 Reviews
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From the outside, Hanoi Café didn’t look like much. The possibly Vietnamese-looking chefs sitting on the ground outside, taking a breather, and playing football in their whites, at least promised we were on the right lines. Surely happy chefs make happy food, and once we’d turned a corner, things looked even brighter.
There before us was a supremely cute and atmospheric little café. Clean bright white was combined with vibrant splashes of orange and green in a conservatory-like space (with leafy green plants and wooden benches) in a relaxing little oasis.
The menu presented an impressively vast selection of drinks, including bubble teas, smoothies, traditional Vietnamese-style coffees and a few unusual-sounding hot teas. The list is well worth a dabble. The artichoke tea was a surprise and a wonder: mellow and woody yet sweet, with a distinct flavour of artichoke. The Amazon bubble tea (with green tea and lemon) was refreshing and zingy and the Vietnamese coffee was also pretty good. If you like it black, however, be sure to say so or it will come with condensed milk already added.
The fresh summer rolls were fairly gargantuan in size and packed to the limit with prawns, rice noodles and salad. Unfortunately the rest of the light bites we ordered were a little weak. While the stuffed crab shell offered a few varieties in texture, it was overcooked, a little woolly and lacked much flavour of the actual crab. The crispy spicy quail was a bit of a shame – the ‘crispy’ element had crossed a boundary where it was certainly overdone and just on the border before cremated. The accompanying sauce certainly made it spicy, but this dish had little flavour of anything else.
Yet a whole different story began with the rest of the food. We opted for the Hanoi special pho, a combination of the other three beef options (beef balls, rare steak and brisket). The brisket was much too tough, but the beef was just a sideline to the wonderful broth. Clear, light but densely packed with flavour, fullness and spicy warmth, combined with the handfuls of fresh garnishes ready and waiting on the table (coriander, beans sprouts, mint), this was a good pho. The simple but delicious crunchy Vietnamese salad was a triumph of fresh, fragrant crisp and sweet flavours. Likewise with the Hanoi special bun (this time a mix of chicken, prawn and beef), the meat was fine but was only an added diversion among the fresh and vibrant mix of noodles and vegetables with crunchy slithers of onion, nuts and herbs. I’m already looking forward to heading back to Hanoi.
The bill (for two)
1x Bubble tea Dhs17.5
1x Artichoke tea Dhs8
1x Large water Dhs8
1x Summer rolls Dhs18
1x Crispy quail Dhs22
1x Stuffed crab Dhs20
1x Vietnamese salad Dhs25
1x Bun Dhs35
1x Pho Dhs35
1x Sesame dumpling Dhs22
1x Vietnamese coffee Dhs14
Total (excluding service) Dhs224.5
Time Out Dubai,
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