Review of Le Hanoi in London's Chinatown - modern Vietnamese restaurant with a French twist!
With restaurants opening up all over London now, I don't really normally feel the urge to eat at Chinatown like I used to.
That is until I saw the new Le Hanoi Vietnamese restaurant.
Having only been open for a month, Le Hanoi is already drumming up a lot of interest. It's conveniently located in the middle of Chinatown's Macclesfield Street, and has a nice clean modern look. I particularly loved the big bright golden star hung up on its red wall - can't get more Vietnamese than that right!
I haven't had a Vietnamese meal for a while, so I was pretty excited about visiting Le Hanoi. I even got my Vietnamese friend to check it out with me! Most of the items on the menu looked quite authentic and some appeared to have a modern twist to it.
The menu is also quite extensive, and it took us a while to decide on a few dishes. But then we were disappointed to hear that a lot of items were sold out or unavailable. The owner later told us that the missing dishes will be available from the new year. Seems like he was trying to give me a reason to come back before I'd even eaten!
Le Hanoi also offers quite a good variety of drinks to go with their food, from wines to cocktails, to soft drinks and of course the Vietnamese drip coffee. My friend opted for the Gin Gardin (£6.00) which consisted of Hendrick's Gin, cloudy apple juice, elderflower cordial, lemon juice and topped with a slice of cucumber.As far as gin based cocktails go, this was pretty good. It was primarily sharp and bitter with a slight sweetness to it, a good choice to go with the rich flavours of the dishes we were having.
I chose the Hanoi Lime Soda which was really refreshing. It's a simple drink made up of fresh lime and soda water. Perfect for the summer or if you feel like having a non-alcoholic bubbly drink!
After a bit of a wait, our food finally started to come and we had the following as starters:
Cha La Lot (£5.50) - grilled betal leaves stuffed with minced pork and served with a Vietnamese fish sauce dip. It was my first time having Cha La Lot and I was told this is quite a normal dish to see in Vietnamese cuisine. I really liked these little parcels - they were packed full of flavour and the pork inside was quite juicy. I think the fish sauce went really well with the parcels, but I think it would've been even better if the citrus flavours were sharper.
Piggy Aubergine (£5.00) - I really wasn't sure what to expect of this dish when I saw it on the menu. But it sounded interesting. It turned out to be half an aubergine that had been braised until it was super soft, topped with a minced pork and spring onion mix, sitting in quite a subtle fish sauce broth. I have to admit, whilst it didn't look or sound very much, it was actually quite tasty!
On to my mains now:
Indochine Lamb (£10.00) - lamb is my favourite meat, so I was quite looking forward to eating this. Particularly with the description of lamb rump cooked with lemongrass and chilli oil. Did I get either of these flavours when I ate it? Sadly not. I got more out of the sweet red onions and the tomato in my opinion. Overall it was a tasty dish to go with my side order of rice, but it just didn't meet the expectations set out from the menu.
Le Hanoi Beef Pho (£8.50) - of course I had to order this because I couldn't justify going to a Vietnamese restaurant and not have their pho! I think all the flavours you'd expect were present. The broth was ok, you could taste the ginger, onions, beef, fish sauce - nothing wow though. The side plate of herbs and toppings was lacking a bit though, there were more beansprouts than anything, and there wasn't even coriander! Maybe next time I won't go for this basic pho and should opt for one that sounds more exciting.
So, would I come back to Le Hanoi? I guess so. I genuinely think that they're adding a bit of fresh air to London's Chinatown. Most of the dishes I had were nice, and I feel gutted some items I wanted weren't available. You can't compare Le Hanoi to the more authentic restaurants down in Hackney or Dalston. But it's still worth a shot. If you're wondering where the French twist comes into play - it's all in the dessert!
Address: 4 Macclesfield Street, London, W1D 6AX
Phone: 0207 287 0288