Hanoi restaurants newly-Michelin'd

By Tam Anh   June 25, 2024 | 05:00 am PT
The 2024 Michelin Guide has featured five restaurants in Hanoi under its Bib Gourmand category, known for offering "good food at reasonable prices."

These 5 newly-listed establishments, located in central Hanoi, are highly frequented and praised by many for offering signature traditional dishes at affordable prices to a broad clientele.

Bun Cha Chan - 114 Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung District

Bun Cha Chan has been operating for about 12 years. This small eatery, measuring approximately 15 square meters, mainly serves regulars and office workers from the surrounding area. Two features set Bun Cha Chan apart from other bun cha establishments in Hanoi.

Firstly, it serves bun cha, a traditional Vietnamese dish featuring grilled pork served with rice vermicelli noodles, fresh herbs, and a flavorful dipping sauce, with both sliced and minced meat options, but uniquely, the minced meat here is grilled in large pieces, each about 200 grams, fitting perfectly on the grill. The owner, Ms. Hong, adopted the famous "Bac Ninh" method, which originates in the eponymous province 30 km northeast of Hanoi and is known for keeping the meat extra moist. Each piece is typically enough for four people.

Secondly, the restaurant offers bun cha in two styles: the usual separate dipping sauce and noodles, and a version where the sauce is poured over the noodles and meat in the bowl, similar to the way bun oc (noodle soup with freshwater snails) and bun rieu (noodle soup with freshwater crab) are served.

Diners can also order grilled pork wrapped in betel leaves and fried spring rolls. A serving costs VND40,000 (US$1.70), and spring rolls are priced at VND10,000 each. On busy days, the owner sets up additional plastic tables and chairs in the alley. The restaurant operates from noon until around 3 p.m. and offers adequate parking space for both cars and motorbikes.

Mien Luon Dong Thinh - 87 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem District

Located opposite Hang Da market, Mien Luon Dong Thinh is a familiar spot for many Hanoians. The restaurant is modest, about 30 square meters, and can serve over 30 people at a time.

With over 40 years of history, it specializes in eel dishes, including eel noodles (stir-fried, soupy and dried mix), eel porridge, soup, and salad. The eel comes in two common varieties: soft and crispy. Soupy eel noodles and eel porridge are ideal for cooler days, while mixed eel noodles are perfect for summer. A typical meal with a bowl of eel soup followed by a plate of stir-fried eel noodles is guaranteed to satisfy one's appetite. Prices range from VND35,000 to VND65,000 per dish.

In addition to dining in, Mien Luon Dong Thinh offers vacuum-packed eel for takeaways, suitable for long-term storage and transport both domestically and internationally.

Pho Khoi Hoi - 50 Hang Vai, Hoan Kiem District

When it comes to pho with lean brisket, Khoi Hoi or Khoi Hang Vai is the first name Hanoians mention. This breakfast favorite in the capital serves the most traditional of pho varieties: rare beef, well-done beef, brisket, and flank steak.

Situated in the heart of the old quarter, Pho Khoi is renowned for its tender yet crunchy brisket. The broth, prepared with a family recipe, is made by slow-cooking beef bones with spices like black cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and star anise, resulting in a clear, subtly-flavored soup.

The restaurant’s name Pho Khoi Hoi derives from a nickname for the bald-headed owner (Khoi as his name "hoi" means bald) given by regular customers. On weekends, particularly in the morning, diners might have to wait for a seat. Prices range from VND40,000 to VND90,000 per bowl.

Pho Khoi is open all day, offering not just traditional soupy pho but also stir-fried pho, pho with beef stewed in red wine, stir-fried noodles, fried rice, and beef hotpot.

Mr Bay Mien Tay - 79 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem District

Mr Bay Mien Tay is one of the few places in Hanoi specializing in southern Vietnamese cuisine. Operating for over a decade, the restaurant is decorated in a rustic style with bamboo furniture.

It is famous for its crispy banh xeo (pancake filled with shrimp, pork, bean sprouts, and herbs). First-time visitors receive detailed instructions on how to enjoy each dish, especially helpful for foreigners. Besides banh xeo, the menu includes other Mekong Delta specialties like hu tieu muc suon (squid and pork noodle soup) from Ben Tre, banh khot (mini pancakes) from Can Tho, bun nuoc leo (vermicelli noodles with fish sauce) from Soc Trang, bo kho banh mi (braised beef with bread) from An Giang, com tam suon bi cha (broken rice with pork chop and egg), ca loc nuong trui (grilled snakehead fish), bo nuong la lot (grilled beef in wild betel leaves), grilled dishes on pebbles or clay pot, and lau mam and lau ca keo (fish and shrimp hotpots).

This spot is highly rated by international visitors, with a 4.5/5 rating on Tripadvisor.

Luk Lak - 4A Le Thanh Tong, Hoan Kiem District

Located near the Hanoi Opera House, Luk Lak is the most upscale restaurant among the five recommended by Michelin this year. Head chef Madame Binh, with 25 years of experience and a background at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, leads the kitchen. After over six years in business, Luk Lak recently opened a branch in Da Nang.

The restaurant offers a blend of traditional and contemporary Vietnamese cuisine, with a seasonal menu featuring signature dishes like lau rieu oc (crab, freshwater snails and tomato hotpot), thit lon nuong la mac mat (grilled pork in wild herbal leaves), bun ca (fish noodle soup), xoi hat sen (sticky rice with lotus seeds), bun thang (shredded chicken noodle soup), and other traditional fare. With three floors, diners can choose between private rooms and communal areas. Prices start at VND200,000 per person.

Luk Lak also serves egg coffee and egg cocoa. For those wishing to explore central Hanoi and soak in the tranquil atmosphere, the restaurant's sidewalk seating is an ideal spot to sit back and savor a cup of their special egg coffee, distinct from other offerings in the city.

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