Hanoi Hannah : 180 High St, Prahran

July 20, 2013 at 9:33 pm (Bar, Prahran, Victoria, Vietnamese)

Hanoi Hannah - Interior

Since it first opened in 2012, Vietnamese hawker bar, Hanoi Hannah, has continued to draw crowds, so much so that the owners have opened a sister-restaurant (appropriately named Saigon Sally) round the corner.  Having heard great things (‘Victoria St in Prahran!’), expectations were high when we arrived for an early lunch sitting to avoid having to queue with the trendy locals also looking for a pho fix.

Hanoi Hannah - Exterior

This little eatery fits right in with hipster Prahran.  ‘Sex, drugs and rice paper rolls’ is the tagline boldly visible as you walk down High St, and this pretty much captures the vibe; recycled timber furniture crammed into a tiny dining room, with more seating along a bar set against an exposed brick wall, an eclectic assortment of industrial lighting and fabric draping from the ceiling adding some softness to the space.  The fit-out captures the grunge of a busy Vietnamese city, complete with requisite brightly coloured plastic chopsticks and branded condiment bottles.  The only thing missing would be the pint-sized plastic stools favoured by Vietnamese street vendors that have you sitting with your knees in your armpits as you tuck into your noodles, although I don’t think the local diners are complaining.

Hanoi Hannah - Menu

Hanoi Hannah - Cutlery

Hanoi Hannah - Condiments

The menu is filled with Vietnamese hawker favourites, albeit with a bit of a twist.  Bowls of pho come topped with sliced beef, poached chicken or mixed mushrooms.  Pork and prawn goi cuon are served alongside fancier offerings of peking duck, tuna and wasabi mayo and chicken and basil rolls.  For banh mi, the chefs have foregone the traditional sliced meats, in favour of BBQ pork and beef.  A selection of salads add some crunch and freshness to the menu while bo la lot (grilled skewers of beef wrapped in betel leaf) and spring rolls make great bar snacks.

Hanoi Hannah - Pho

Hanoi Hannah - Chili

Hanoi Hannah - Rolls

Hanoi Hannah - Salad

Trendy as the menu is however, there are some basics that were missed on our visit.  The pho was served rather lukewarm (pho tai should be steaming hot when served, so that the slices of rare beef placed on top can be cooked by dunking into the soup right before eating) and the broth did not have much depth of flavour.  Poached chicken salad fell way short of a classic goi ga; the chicken was dry and not shredded finely enough to catch the dressing, which was too sweet and missing the savoury notes of nuoc mam.  Rice paper rolls were fresh but, once again, a little bland.  Trying to bridge the gap between the tuna/wasabi mayo roll and Coda’s version, I would say fish-to-cabbage ratio has something to do with it.

So the pluses are that Hanoi Hannah is a pretty cool place to hang out and have a relatively inexpensive meal, if you can get a seat.  For Vietnamese, however, I’ll still be heading to Victoria St.

 

Hanoi Hannah on Urbanspoon
 

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3 Comments

  1. Ev said,

    When I went it was pretty good but that was about 6 months ago.

    • egg tarts and apple pie said,

      I may be a bit picky with Vietnamese food haha 😛 Can I tempt you to try out Saigon Sally with me? Some of the desserts look quite interesting.

      • Ev said,

        Yeah sure, let me know when you’re free and we can go!

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