My first trip to Phoenix Mall was some what quite surprising because it was actually like shopping in many of our malls in Kuala Lumpur. I didn’t have much expectations actually, I just followed along and when I jumped out of the car I was pleasantly surprised with the whole façade. It was modern and everything was big and it actually looked like a mall you’d see in the US.
Big Kahuna, Chillis, and various Asian restaurants and cafes were all over the place in a rather modern, inviting and bright setting. Even the wait staff was different then the many I have encountered. So it was no surprise we ended up at Hanoi, this quaint Vietnamese Restaurant. Anyhow it was a toss up of Japanese and Vietnamese, so Vietnamese won.
I looked at the restaurant and in my mind, I went, Oh No… “Vietnamese food in Bangalore”. Now this would be similar to expecting Hong Kong Dim Sum. And if I heaved and complained, it would be my own fault for not saying anything earlier. But I had no choice in the matter so I went along.
We were seated by pleansant wait staff who spoke perfect English minus the accent that always makes me look extra dumb because I never understand what they are saying most times. This was a pleasant change.
Our complimentary crackers came with three sauces. There was a smooth peanut sauce, soy sauce and a nice tasting chilly sauce, obviously made in house. The Crackers…… hmmm just didn’t do justice to the place. It was bland and insipid and I got worried about what was to come. Maybe it was me, but Richard and Kenneth seem to enjoy it, so it must be me being Asian and eating various types of crackers.
We couldn’t make up our minds so we ordered two starters first so it would give us some time to think what main courses to choose. So I chose the obvious Vietnamese Spring Rolls and Raw Papaya Salad. I have to add, the menu was quite extensive, so that is why we could not make up our minds. And there was no canceled items as well.
Raw Papaya Salad or Nom Du DU arrived. Now I am used to rather sour tangy to tart Raw Papaya Salad and having eaten it in some of the best restaurants in Kuala Lumpur it has always been a tad bit disappointing. So at this moment I had no expectations… more over this being India and all (I do sound rude I know).
Well I was rather surprised.
First it was professionally presented to us and our very Chinese looking waiter served us one by one in a very polite manner. I was rather charmed by this because I have eaten in some five star places in Kuala Lumpur and never ever got that. I felt special.
Taste wise, it was less tangy, actually it was a nice pleasant taste with a very good quality soy sauce used, with a tiny bit of sourness, and not sweet nor salty. To me it was the marrying of three flavors unexpected for a Raw Papaya Salad. all the ingredients were nice and crunchy and made fresh and cut just the way I like it. Julliened but not too fine. Perhaps one little added ingredient that would have uplifted the dish would be a tiny bit of chilly. This coming from someone who does not like spicy food. But still it would have given it that little kick. Still though, at least you tasted the raw papaya.
And the gentility of our waiter was also something else. Expertly placing the salad on our plates, it was like a little five star experience we did not expect. It was a bit of Gueridon Service and good table service. He did it for every subsequent course.
Our beverages followed. Richard and I had a Virgin Mohito and Kenneth had Kiwi Mango Mint.
The Virgin Mohito was wonderfully refreshing on this little virginal escapade of mine – having Vietnamese Food in Bangalore. I could have had a jug full. Strangely though, the mint tasted nice and not cutting like the mint we have in Malaysia. It didn’t have the strong pungent flavor of the mint I was used to and so this suited the beverage well. Kenneth didn’t give much feed back about the drink except MMMMM… so I am sure it was really good as well. I loved the vibrancy of the two colors and the manager gently told Kenneth to stir the drink to get the full flavor. Now once again, this seldom happens when I go out in KL or PJ. No one says anything except take the order and serve. Sometimes you have to be observant to notice your customers doing something wrong and tell them so that the value of the meal experience will be that bit more.
This little niceties made the meal experience that much better. I felt special.
Next out Nem Cuon or Rice Paper Rolls came. We chose the vegetairian ones.
They were once again beautifully presented. My camera skills need some work as you see I chopped off part of my waiters head. I love Vietnamese Spring Rolls, and frankly I could have eaten the whole plate by myself. Once again he placed them gently on each persons plate. I felt so spoilt.
You cannot go wrong with Vietnamese Spring Rolls, but if you do not cut it well and arrange the vegetables inside the rolls properly, it can be a big mess. Ours was done neatly.
One little thing.. not being picky but no one gave us a sauce to have with the Rolls. I was expecting that tangy sauce to go with it. Alas, it didn’t appear. Still it was nice, not that I am a sauce person.
Then we chose our maincourses.
First was Khoai tay chien duoi nuoc sot cay or crispy potatoes. I didn’t order the main courses, as I didn’t want to be bossy boots, so Richard did the choosing. Dish came and once again perfect waiter served us and gently placed it on our plates.
Now this dish was what I would classify as comfort food. The potatoes were actually french fries coated in a batter with a nice piquant sauce. No complaints as it brought the child out of us eating something so simple yet extremely tasty. And just watch how our wonderful waiter served us.
If I was served like this every where I went, my eating and service experience would be oh so wonderful… words could not express how I would feel.. Alas, dreams are free.
And this next photo shows how neatly he placed it on my plate. With the garnish mind you.
Next dish came from the apptiser menu. Ga Kho Gung or chicken cooked in ginger and caramel. Once again I would say this would be comfort food, something my mum would cook on a good day. Very Very good day I might add or when the moon has polka dots.
Now I love ginger with chicken and the sheer colorfullness (if there is such a word) of the mirepoixed capsicum made this dish that much more tasty. It left a very burny sensation on my tongue, although Richard and Kenneth didn’t think so. I liked it though, burning tongue and all. This dish had to be eaten with rice so the nuetral flavor of the rice will bring out the flavors and cut out the burniness.
Oh yes, the rice did come a tad bit late for some reason, but when it came, it was the best fragranced Jasmine Rice served in this quaint Bamboo container. I took a shocking photo of it, so it be put up here, but once again we were served. You can see what the bamboo container looks like with our expert waiter. This is for one serving though. Too big for one person and more then enough for three.
And see how Waiter from heaven served me my chicken.
See my food didn’t even touch. I hate my food touching and this was served perfectly. The boneless chicken was succulent and flavorsome with the spicy taste and not sweet although it was cooked in caramel. It was a good flavor.
Next dish… hmmmmm…. I have to say was a real downer. Suon Xao Ngu Vi Huong or Vietnamese Lamb Gravy. First of all there was too much gravy. Although the gravy had a nice flavor, bit was a bit too runny on my plate.
The gravy had a nice rich flavor but to me, it should have been served with less gravy and what made it worst was the lamb or the lack of it. It was precooked without much seasoning and broken into pieces into the soup. The size of the meat is exactly shown above. I feel this dish needed some uplifting with some vegetables. If the vegetables were cut into dice, then the small pieces of meat would not be an issue. Still it was tasty and went well with the rice.
Frankly if I cooked this dish, I would have served it with rice and vegetables like carrots and chokoes. I would have mixed everything together so it will look and taste like Jook. But again that’s just me, I like soupy rice.
All in all it was a pleasant lunch and the service was picture perfect. Yes I would go there again. It was nice watching the locals eating with chopsticks with their kids practicing as well.
If I go again before I leave, I might just have all picky picky foods.
Well done Hanoi in Bangalore and kudos to Mr Waiter for making my meal experience truly memorable.