"Quan Ngoai O is tucked away on a quiet street that feels more like the suburbs than the centre of a growing metropolis and is eerily absent of xe om drivers. It does have screaming neon lighting outside, but when you enter the restaurant the intensity calms and the city noises drown quickly. The restaurant had five tables occupied, all by locals, which was a promising sign that the Vietnamese cuisine was up to scratch. Quan Ngoai O has indoor and outdoor seating, but is not a large venue, which adds to its quaint interior. Even though it’s a little nippy for those of us that grew up in the tropics, I would suggest sitting outside where tables are arranged under a small, high-ceiling hut that is similar to many thatch roofed structures seen across Melanesia and other parts of the Pacific. The decor is a bit ethnic with the hut and bamboo furniture, but is in no way tawdry," write Kenneth Crawford in The Vietnam News.
"During their visit to HCM City last week, American superstars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie visited Temple Club, a Vietnamese restaurant housed in an old colonial-era building favoured by expats and tourists. Brangelina, as the couple is known, depending on your tastes, chose Temple Club for a brief taste of anonymity following a highly recognisable tour around town on a Yamaha motorbike, manned by bike aficionado Pitt. Staff and customers told me they kept their distance to give privacy to the famous couple, who were visiting Viet Nam after a trip to Cambodia," writes Anh Thu in The Vietnam News.
NB: More on The Temple Club at Frommers. FWIW, it’s quite a nice enough place, but the food, in my experience, is average or just plain dull. Their deep fried crabs are not bad though, but all in all you’d be better staying downstairs in Fanny’s.
"Acting on a word-of-mouth recommendation, we found exactly what we were looking for at Hanayuki Japanese Restaurant. Here we experienced fast and hugely amicable service, along with a calm, civilised atmosphere, enhanced by a rarely found lack of Muzak (an overwhelmingly tedious element of many restaurants), and lively conversation among the Japanese expat patrons whose presence began to prove the restaurant’s proficiency in providing authentic Japanese fare. Strolling down the charming foodie Mai Hac De Street, we knew we’d struck Japanese cuisine when we came to a restaurant where red paper lanterns inscribed with simple characters hung down to either side of sliding screen-doors. We were welcomed by a doorman, and a waitress showed us to one of the tables lining either side of the ground floor (there are three floors in total). The setting was fairly elegant but not over the top; chairs were comfortable, the settings, simple," writes Justine Reilly in The Vietnam News.
Maan… sometimes I hate linking out to this lame writing in the Vietnam News. However, there is method in the madness. FWIW, my favourite Japanese place in Hanoi is KY-Y.
“Vast yet intimate, the 300-seat Ming Dynasty Restaurant can please even the savviest connoisseurs of traditional Chinese cuisine with its dim sum and Hong Kong specialties. Vo Le Hong visits the suburbs south of Saigon for a taste of a regal past. The newly opened Ming Dynasty Restaurant, the latest food venue in the empire of retailer-restaurateur Nguyen Khai, offers diners hundreds of delicacies in an atmosphere reminiscent of an old Chinese palace. Spurning the traditional favourite Chinese colours of red and yellow, the owners have used a muted palette throughout the 3,000sq.m restaurant. Grey brick walls, white lanterns and wooden furniture create a soothing, elegant ambience,” writes Vo Le Hong in The Vietnam News.
“If you’re looking for a slice of traditional Hanoi, in terms of both decor and gustation, you’re likely to find what you’re after at Com Viet. The three-storey restaurant sits one block from Hoan Kiem Lake, in the area behind the giant statue of Hanoi’s founding father, Ly Thai To, on the street named after the same man. Com Viet, meaning “Vietnamese rice”, is owned by a woman who hails from something of a dynasty herself. Her family owns such Hanoian eateries as Nam Phuong and Cay Cau, while her sister runs a silk store in the Old Quarter, from where the restaurant’s curtains and waitresses’ ao dai are sourced,” writes Justine Reilly in The Vietnam News.
“Take an evening stroll down Le Ngoc Han Street and you can’t possibly miss Bi Do. Once the sun sets, the restaurant’s cheerfully bright exterior, complete with a glowing neon pumpkin, is the only sign of life in this quiet neighbourhood. When I entered Bi Do with a group of friends last Saturday night, however, I found that the restaurant resembled the rest of the neighbourhood, with sleepy service and an atmosphere devoid of life. Only one other table was occupied in the room where we had been seated, and no music was playing, so the place lacked any sort of din. As a result, we found ourselves in an eerie silence whenever there was a break in conversation. That was only the beginning of the awkwardness of the meal,” writes Julie Ginsberg in The Vietnam News.
"It wasn’t until we’d been led to the highest mezzanine floor of the Opera Club that I realised what we had actually entered. At the heart of this low-lit venue was a cavernous theatre and at the centre of this theatre, a stage. And it wasn’t until leaving that I realised the stage could be seen from the multiple levels and hidden corners of the club floor. The size of the interior – with its wood-panelled walls and art deco lead lighting – seemed to rival that of the Hanoi Opera House, though this opulent decor was more a melting pot of Asian and European styles, business club meets romantic restaurant. The club has been built by the same man who created such Hanoian superclubs as New Century, the Ha Le Club and Ho Guom Xanh (the one with the enormous graphic equaliser on the outside, opposite Hoan Kiem Lake)," writes Justine Reilly in the Vietnam News.
"If you’re looking for a cheap meal, there are plenty of roadside stalls that will be more than happy to throw some pho into a bowl for you, where you can sit on a plastic stool, waving mosquitoes away whilst dining on your beef noodles. However, I-BOX has put a lot of effort and money in to their classy, elegant and romantic dining and drinking establishment, making the slightly higher price of food more than acceptable. Walking into I-BOX, one is immediately transported to another era of style and class. There are attractive, well dressed cigarette girls walking around offering you imported, after-dinner smokes, reminiscent of Humphrey Bogart movies, and Las Vegas nightlife," writes Ed Merlin in The Vietnam News.
"Although the restaurant provides its guests with innumerable Asian dishes, from Vietnamese to Singaporean to Chinese, the dish that Si Phu’s owner Do Thi Bich Hanh boasts of is the hot pot. Before entering Si Phu for a friend’s birthday party, I did know that we would be having lau (hot pot) at a luxury restaurant, but when I sat down everything was far from my expectation: in front each of us was a single hot pot squeezed into a hole on the table, a plate of Australian beef, a plate of seafood (shrimp, oysters, and a piece of salmon), and a plate of assorted vegetables (corn, pumpkin, quash, cabbage, vermicelli and mushroom). All of us, including me, the group glutton, underestimated our ability to finish such a big portion," writes Le Lan Huong in The Vietnam News.
"Little Hanoi Drinks & Food is a diamond in the rough. A paradise for the palates of foreigners, this medium sized cafe serves up some tasty meals, bringing a reminiscent familiarity back to the average expat or tourist looking for a little taste of home.
From the outside, this cafe appears similar to most others in the popular Hoan Kiem Lake area, with a small open counter to the street in front serving up coffee, pastries and the like to passers-by lured over by the fragrant aroma of freshly brewed coffee. But for those who venture inside, a more rewarding treat is sure to be dished out," writes Karen Merlin in The Vietnam News.