Hanoi Restaurants

Being our 2nd trip to Hanoi in the past few years, we wanted to go back to some of the places that we liked on our first trip. Two of those in the Old Quarter were Ladybird Café and Bittet Restaurant. On our previous visit, we liked Ladybird so much that we ate there 4-times over the course of about 10-days and we also made multiple visits to Bittet. Ladybird serves a wide variety of Vietnamese dishes and Bittet is kind of a Vietnamese version of a steak frit place.  

The new Chả Cá Lã Vọng restaurant 2  Sapa 2 - Hanoi photos 008

We didn’t make Bittet this time but did go to Ladybird and it was good again, although not as good as it was in our memory. However, on a day when we were doing a walking tour of the Old Quarter, a guide took us to New Day Restaurant, another straight ahead Vietnamese place a few blocks away at 72 Ma May that we liked it even better than Ladybird. In fact, we went back a 2nd time for our last lunch in Hanoi.  From that experience, I would have to say that New Day would be my first choice for a Vietnamese place in the Old Quarter.

The original location of Cha Ca La Vong is an institution in the Old Quarter. It’s been in the same location for 150 years and only serves one dish (fish that you stir fry at the table in ghee with turmeric, dill and other herbs and spices). I’ve seen it on one of the lists of 1000 places to visit before you die.

We ate at the original location on our last trip to Hanoi and it was an interesting experience that anyone might enjoy. If you read our  review of our visit there on our previous trip to Hanoi we mention that while we liked the Cha Ca dish, we would probably try to find it at a different restaurant on our next visit to Hanoi.

We kind of did go to a different restaurant for the dish this time and we kind of didn’t. One day we went by the office of our Hanoi travel agent and he took us to lunch just up the street. Turns out that it was a more modern branch of Cha Ca La Vong restaurant at 107 Nguyen Truong To.  They serve the same single fish dish but we liked it better. 

The room didn’t have the history or atmosphere as the original but it was quite a bit cleaner and offerred better service and fewer tourists. It’s a little outside of the Old Quarter but the cab ride was less than $2. Even though the original location was only 3 blocks from our hotel, we preferred to take a cab to the newer location for dinner later in the week.

Another new place we ate at more than once on this trip was Highway 4. There are multiple locations of this place around the city. One happened to be a block away from our hotel. It serves a clean modern Vietnamese/Western fusion type of menu including several sets of tapas.  Highway 4 wasn’t the least expensive place we found but the prices were reasonable and the service was good. It was not the best food we found in Hanoi but it was better than pretty good. We found it a good option on days when were traveling in and out of Hanoi when we were a bit tired and didn’t want to venture too far away from the hotel.

Another place we had gone to on our previous trip that we liked a lot was Bangkok-Hanoi, a great Thai place located near Embassy Row. In our previous review of Hanoi restaurants, we described it as authentic as any Thai restaurant that we had visited outside of Thailand. So on this trip I took the address down to the hotel front desk and they wrote it out in Vietnamese to give to a cab driver. The taxi took us directly to the location and we found a Thai restaurant there but the name had been changed to Sawadee. Perhaps we have developed a better palete for Thai food or perhaps the Sawadee chef is not as skilled as the Bangkok-Hanoi chef but without question, we did not enjoy the experience as much this time around.  We’ll be looking for an alterntive the next time we feel the urge to eat Thai food in Hanoi.

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