Popular traditional Vietnamese food
34 Phan Dinh Phung, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
T: (04) 3734 9777
Quan An Ngon restaurant, on Phan Boi Chau Street, has long been a favourite of visitors to Hanoi. It provides a clean and reasonably comfortable setting in which to sample a range of Vietnamese street food dishes, but it’s often overflowing with customers, necessitating a wait for a table and a crowded and noisy environment. If that’s not for you, try the new branch on Phan Dinh Phung Street, near the Royal Citadel.
While the branch on Phan Boi Chau Street has a large outside courtyard area, the new venue is all inside an attractive French mansion-style building. Seating is split over two levels, at well-spaced solid wooden tables with decent chairs, and amid pretty lampshades and wood panelling.
The menu is overwhelming, as at the original venue, with dishes roughly divided into categories but many sounding so similar as to be difficult to choose between. It’s in English as well as Vietnamese, which helps things along as thankfully there are none of those poorly shot, unappetising food photos you so commonly find elsewhere in Hanoi.
Appetisers and salads include standards such as spring rolls and banh cuon. Delve further into the menu for grilled dishes and a wide range of seafood. Noodles — in soup, stir-fried and as an accompaniment — are well represented, and you’ll find all your favourite street food dishes, including pho, bun cha, pho cuon and banh xeo as well as hotpot and stir-fried meat. It’s not quite the same as eating the equivalent dishes on the street, but that’s not why you come here.
The grilled squid has a delicious barbecue flavour and is fantastically soft, while the crunchy banh xeo and goi xoai hai san (seafood salad with mango) are also worth trying. To finish off, try che for dessert — it’s not as wonderful as some versions elsewhere, but a tasty sweet finish to the meal nonetheless.
Prices range from under 50,000 VND for appetisers through to hundreds of thousands for hotpot and some of the grilled dishes, such as the lobster. In a group you might want to select a range of dishes to share rather than order your own plate of food, in which case expect to pay around 150,000 VND per person for a good feed, including a beer or soft drink, but you can eat more cheaply if you just order up say a plate of noodles or stir-fried rice.
Service is good, staff speak some English and food is delivered quickly. Sometimes waiters can be a bit bossy, in a “you won’t like that, try this” kind of way, but that can be quite helpful given the length of the menu.
The atmosphere on my visit was on the quiet side, only broken up by a group of Vietnamese men shouting “Mot, hai, ba, zo” and downing their drinks, but this only happened once and otherwise it certainly wasn’t lively — for that, go to the original. It’s a pleasant, if not exciting, dining environment.
Other Vietnamese restaurants could be found on Phan Dinh Phung Street, but Quan An Ngon is a welcome addition, well located for a post Military History Museum and Citadel visit. It’s a pleasant stroll, along streets you can actually walk on, from the north of Old Quarter.
By Sarah Turner
Last updated on 21st August, 2014.