Food & Recipes - June 7, 2023 | 10:59 pm PT

Inside 4 Michelin-starred restaurants in Vietnam

Before being awarded a one-star rating by Michelin Guide for the first time, four Vietnamese restaurants - one in HCMC and three in Hanoi - were honored by international media and received applause from foreign diners.

Anan Saigon Restaurant is at 89 Ton That Dam Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, HCMC.

Located inside an old market on Ton That Dam Street near Bitexco Financial Tower in District 1, Anan Saigon is well known as a fine dining restaurant but specializes in street food-inspired dishes created by its owner and chef, Peter Cuong Franklin.

The restaurant opened its doors in April 2017 and quickly catapulted to global fame for its $100 banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich) that is topped off with French foie gras, truffle, a traditional garnish of sliced cucumbers, cilantro and mint and served with a side of fried sweet potatoes and caviar.

Due to its limited space, the restaurant only serves 40 diners at a time.

Banh xeo taco is served at Anan Saigon.

Other dishes that have helped the restaurant gain a reputation among international foodies are banh xeo taco, a dish consisting of a central Vietnamese region-style banh xeo (Vietnamese pancake) folded into the shape of a Mexican taco and filled with shrimp and pork, Hanoi-style grilled catfish or beef stew.

After five years, the restaurant has received a series of prestigious awards from international cuisine magazines. It was the only representative of Vietnam to be listed among Asia's 50 best restaurants at the World Travel Awards in March.

Prices start from VND185,000 ($7.93).

Hibana by Koki is at 11 Le Phung Hieu Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi.

Hibana by Koki Restaurant inside Capella Hotel in Hanoi's Old Quarter specializes in serving Japanese cuisine like sashimi, yakitori, grilled meat, and seafood with salads, rice, and noodle dishes.

It was one of three restaurants in Hanoi that have been awarded a Michelin star by the French food guide.

Koki also boasts several secluded dining spaces including four private dining rooms accommodating up to eight guests as well as five other private dining areas each catering for between six to 16 guests.

A lobster dish at Hibana by Koki.

Chef Hiroshi Yamaguchi told VnExpress that ingredients the most important factor that help his restaurant to be awarded Michelin star.

"I am very strict in choosing materials from vegetables to seafood to ensure freshness," he added.

Yamaguchi hopes the awarding of a Michelin star will help boost Vietnamese cuisine’s reputation on the global map, but what he is concerned for now is how to ensure the best quality of all dishes so that guests realize the restaurant is worth the Michelin star.

In addition to teppanyaki dishes, the restaurant’s menu features a distinctly decadent edge, epitomized by the premium ingredients flown in twice weekly from Japan, such as abalone, spiny lobster, sea urchin, Yaeyama Kyori beef and Hokkaido hairy crab.

A meal costs from VND6-9 million per person.

Last year, it was voted among best new restaurants in Hanoi by readers and travel editors of American magazine Condé Nast Traveler.

Tam Vi stands at 4b Yen The Street, Dong Da District, Hanoi.

Located on Van Mieu Street in Dong Da District, Tam Vi Restaurant takes inspiration from the Tonkin period with a touch of northern Vietnamese architecture.

It boasts nostalgic collection of Chinese furniture, hand-written signs and an antique gramophone and telephone.

The restaurant was chosen by Tripadvisor readers in 2023 as one of the best in Hanoi.

A meal with basic northern Vietnamese dishes is served at Tam Vi.

The restaurant specializes in serving northern Vietnamese dishes. Its signature dishes include Vietnamese ham with periwinkle (snails) that comes with fresh herbs, vegetables and rice vermicelli with fish sauce.

"High quality cooking, worth a stop," Michelin Guide said.

The restaurant is open from Tuesday until Saturday.

A meal here costs from VND200,000-500,000.

Gia is at 61 Van Mieu Street, Dong Da District, Hanoi.

Gia Restaurant first opened its doors for business in December 2020.

The restaurant’s name means "family" in Vietnamese that derives from the family love of head chef Sam Tran and CEO Long Tran, who have been working abroad for years.

The restaurant decor draws inspiration from Hanoi's Temple of Literature.

A dish of lamb with black garlic at Gia in Hanoi.

Its menu includes dried black apricot, Hmong chicken served with rice, crab with beetroot, scallops with lime, and lamb with black garlic.

Meal prices cost from VND1.7-2 million.

To be honored by Michelin, all restaurants must meet five criteria including the personality of the chef represented in the cuisine, harmony of flavors, mastery of cooking techniques, quality of ingredients, and consistency over time and across the entire menu.

Story by Hoang Phong

Photos courtesy of the restaurants