Hanoi…in Dubai…and Abu Dhabi

HanoiVietnamese cuisine is fast gaining popularity in Europe, but sadly here aside from the likes of the fabulous yet expensive French-Vietnamese Voi at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray and Hoi An at Shangri La, together with a fleeting visit from TV chef-come-restaurateur in Vietnam, Bobby Chinn, we’ve not had our fix of authentic, affordable Vietnamese…until now with the opening of not just one, but three standalone secret gems in Dubai, Al Reem Island and Abu Dhabi. All credit for discovering Hanoi goes to the Chinese-American food blogger half of Ginger and Scotch who was born in Vietnam. Rather uninspiringly named after the capital, the Dubai outpost of Hanoi is well and truly hidden amidst the gleaming skyscrapers of Jumeirah Lake Towers.

Breezing in on a Friday lunchtime, FooDiva was pleasantly surprised to find a fresh, bright and modern corner space brimming with scenic Vietnamese photos and rather garish faux plants – spotlessly clean too. An open plan kitchen flanked by a counter top allows for sole dining.

With eight of us hungry Fooderatis we were able to order aplenty – in fact a staggering 15 dishes to share, and that’s without dessert. Greatly admired for its fresh ingredients, minimal use of oil, and reliance on herbs and vegetables, Vietnamese cuisine is considered one of the healthiest in the world and to an extent reflected in Hanoi’s menu. Expect many dishes to feature ‘bun’ a rice vermicelli noodle, or ‘pho’ a thicker rice noodle. So faced with a huge menu, what should you order? Well luckily Ginger came to the rescue…here’s FooDiva’s faves:

Goi Du Du - green papaya salad with fried anchovies

Goi Du Du – an addictive green papaya salad with lightly fried anchovies.

Bun Dac Biet - special mixed salad served with a Nuoc Cham fish sauce

Bun Dac Biet – mixed noodle salad with strips of chicken and beef doused in a more-ish Nuoc Cham fish-based sauce.

Goi Cuon - fresh Vietnamese rice paper rollsDau Om Ca Tim - braised eggplant and tofu in a claypot served with steamed rice

Goi Cuon – Vietnamese rice paper rolls filled with julienne strips of fresh, crunchy veggies and Dau Om Ca Tim – braised eggplant and tofu in a claypot.

Ga Ca-Ri - Vietnamese coconut-chicken-on-the-bone curry served with French baguette

Ga Ca-Ri – Vietnamese coconut-chicken-on-the-bone curry (similar flavours to a Thai green curry). Don’t bother with the rather stale French baguette likely from neighbouring Carrefour.

Ca Ran Xot Me - crispy fried whole fish with spicy tamarind sauce served with steamed rice

Ca Ran Xot Me – crispy fried whole fish (angel-fish perhaps?) in a spicy tamarind and tomato sauce.

Cha Ca La Vong - marinated fish slice sizzling on a hot plate, served with vermicelli noodles and herbs

Cha Ca La Vong – marinated fish slices sizzling on a hot plate with shredded spring onions (scallions).

Rau Cai Hap Dau Ha - a side order of steamed pak choy with oyster sauce

Rau Cai Hap Dau Ha – a side order of steamed pak choy with oyster sauce. May sound boring, but beautifully al dente.

As for dishes to avoid…stay clear of the Chim Cut Chien Ron (crispy spiced quail), Banh Xeo (crepe with prawns and chicken), Bo Bit Tet (beef steak sizzling on a hot plate served with french fries and fried egg) and Vit Ran (crispy fried duck topped with spicy mint sauce). For dessert, FooDiva’s so-not-sweet palate could only stomach the banana fritters with ice cream (Chuoi Ran Kem) – the oil used for the batter was a tad stale so sadly another dish to knock off the list.

Most dishes were incredibly more-ish and comforting, and despite indulging in one too many (not booze), I left feeling nicely full and digested. Service was friendly and ever so prompt given a pretty packed out restaurant, but the waitresses had zero authority over their menu. All in all, if you’re a fan of Vietnamese or fancy a change from your usual Asian treat, Hanoi is a hidden gem well worth searching out for.

Hanoi is located in the Gold Crest Executive building, Sector C, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai overlooking the lake, as well as on Al Reem Island and Khalifa Street in Abu Dhabi. T; +971 50 5703359. E; info@hanoi-cafe.com Unlicensed. Dishes priced from AED 16 to 58.

Do let me know if you uncover another Vietnamese gem. Any other hidden eateries worth exploring? Where do you head to when lusting for cheap, cheerful and comforting food?

A bientôt.

FooDiva. x

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    Abu Dhabi, Cafes, Dubai, JLT, Restaurant Reviews, Restaurants, Vietnamese
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21 Responses to “Hanoi…in Dubai…and Abu Dhabi”

  1. ginger and scotch June 20, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    Great summary of our lunch experience and thanks for the mention.

    Shame it is unlicensed (for pork) but will allow many others to feel comfortable about trying the menu.

    Heading back next week to sample some of the other dishes…

    • FooDiva June 21, 2012 at 9:06 am

      Indeed a shame, but to be expected here and the menu is diverse enough to provide a good choice. Would be interested to know what you try next week.

  2. dave reeder June 20, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Haven’t had decent Vietnamese food for an age. I used to go to this place years back when I worked round the corner in Victoria (www.mekongrestaurant.co.uk/) and I can still remember the clean sharp flavours. I still remember fish simmered in a caramel flavored sauce…

    • FooDiva June 21, 2012 at 9:07 am

      Try Hanoi out Dave – plenty of fish for you, but make sure to check it’s not simmered in beef or chicken stock!

  3. Rebecca June 21, 2012 at 11:43 am

    I love reading all your blogs and very rarely comment, however, Vietnamese cuisine is a true love of mine and my husbands after a magical holiday a few years ago! I’m really looking forward to trying out Hanoi! Did anyone sample the pho? We have been in search of a decent pho for some time now 🙂

    • FooDiva June 21, 2012 at 1:16 pm

      Thanks for loving FooDiva Rebecca 🙂 We tried the Pho Dac Biet with tripe, beef meatballs and brisket – not to my taste but Ginger loved it so must be good! Do try Hanoi out. Lucky you, Vietnam is still on my travel list. I was hoping to get there this summer, but it’s rainy season 🙁

      • Rebecca June 21, 2012 at 3:20 pm

        Oh, you will absolutley love Vietnam when you go! It’s a Foodies paradise, truly heaven on earth 😀 Tripe isn’t really my cup of tea, so I’d give that one a miss too! I’m sure they will have something to delight my tastebuds! Can’t wait! 🙂 Thank you for the great review.

        • FooDiva June 22, 2012 at 8:59 am

          A pleasure Rebecca, and plenty of choice at Hanoi so am sure you’ll find a decent pho. Enjoy!

  4. Expat08 July 1, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Very nice and fresh it was indeed. Thank you for the tip.

    Beef brisket Pho 8/10
    Nems 6/10
    Summer rolls 7/10
    Green papaya salad 8/10
    Prawn and mango salad 9/10

    • Ramya July 4, 2012 at 1:52 pm


      I love your blog and love Vietnamese food as well. You should try Wox at The Grand Hyatt- They have a combination of Cambodian, Vietnamese, Singaporean and Chinese cuisine. I love the place. Affordable, Good food and a nice open kitchen (quite literally) in the middle of the tiny restaurant.



      • FooDiva July 5, 2012 at 7:45 pm

        Thanks for loving FooDiva :). I’ve heard of Vox so appreciate the reminder Ramya – will add it to my wish list!

    • FooDiva July 5, 2012 at 7:43 pm

      Wow thanks for the detailed rating!

      • Expat08 July 9, 2012 at 10:48 am

        NP. Please find us an authentic Korean that does not cost a second mortgage…

        • FooDiva July 9, 2012 at 5:33 pm

          I hear good things about Koreana in Barsha…not FooDiva reviewed yet though!

  5. Expat08 July 10, 2012 at 8:22 am

    I remember that one. When they were in Satwa they were very good.

    • Expat08 September 10, 2012 at 9:07 am

      finally went to Koreana in Barsha – still as good as it was in Satwa.

      Had the seafood pankake, shabu shabu, bibimbap, barbecued ribs and prawns. All nicely done.

      • FooDiva September 10, 2012 at 5:59 pm

        Woohoo – great to know thank you. Jumping to the top of my to dine list!

  6. Noela rebello December 6, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    I read this blog before heading to Hanoi with my colleagues and am back to give you an update on their food. We ordered the goi cuon(fresh summer rolls), banh exo (crepe with prawns & chicken), vit kho cam (braised duck in spicy orange sauce) and bo luc lac (shaken peppered marinated beef). Well the banh exo was lovely- just the right amount of prawn & chicken and the dip with it was just perfect. so far all smiles at the table. The main course we ordered was more than enough for a table of 3. Was a little disappointed as the so called duck served in spicy orange sauce wasnt close to being spicy. The beef dish hit all the right notes in regards to flavor, consistency, etc. The goi cuon was not consumed happily (cant comment as i dont eat carrots) Overall hell yeah i would go back to try something else. 2 thumps up

    • FooDiva December 7, 2012 at 12:36 pm

      Thanks so much for dropping by with your feedback Noela. I have not been since but do want to return so I’ll bear your choices in mind – as should anyone else following this post :).

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