Monday, January 28, 2008
Davao Food Trip: Hanoi Restaurant
Thanks to Blogie's efforts, I joined the usual gang for another episode of the Davao Food Trip last Saturday. Our host this time around was Hanoi, Davao's premier Vietnamese restaurant.
For Davao foodies, Hanoi needs no introduction. It's a well-known fine dining destination in the city, popular both for its ambience and cuisine. It has two branches, one in Damosa Gateway and the other in J. Camus St., near Apo View Hotel and Casa Leticia. (As an aside: Blogie failed to mention which branch our food trip would be and so I ended up in Damosa first. Quite a ways to go astray, but it did give me a chance to view both venues. Neither place was bustling full, but they had a good number of group diners.)
First, some words about the ambience. Hanoi's interior decoration is tastefully Oriental, low-key and subdued. The dark wood and deep red wall panels reinforce the air of class. The tables and chairs are simple and functional, not to mention comfortable, but you don't notice the bare simplicity because they all within the general environment. Hanoi can seat large groups of people, easily up to groups of twenty on interconnected tables; and it can just as easily be reconfigured for more intimate settings. The high ceiling minimizes the drift of noise within the restaurant.
And then, of course, there's the food. We had an ample selection for the night, and with it the guarantee of tickled palates and contented stomachs. For appetizers, we had cha nong, fried spring rolls, and pomelo salad dipped in vinegar.
Cha nong is essentially do-it-yourself spring rolls made from rice paper wrapper, vermicelli noodles, lettuce, mint, and roast pork barbecue. Quite tasty for a starter, with just the right tang to prepare you for the main course. And it's fun to put together!
The fried spring rolls looked to be of the variety you would find in any Chinese restaurant. The difference, though, is in the taste. Once you bite through the crunchy wrapper, you'll be surprised by the juicy and flavorful meat filling.
Now, I am not a connoisseur of Vietnamese food (never having been to a restaurant in Vietnam) so I'm not certain if it's the norm; however, from the appetizers alone, I gathered that Hanoi does tend to err towards the side of sweetness in its preparations. Not that I mind, and quite the contrary, it was quite up to my tastes. I might also add that the sweetness in no way overwhelms the savory flavor of the ingredients. To me, it all worked out.
To be continued...