Unlike Hoan Kiem District, Ba Dinh District has less unique restaurant and alleys with foods. After spending all morning around Ba Dinh District visiting museums and parks around the area, I find this restaurant through google and decided to try it out. It’s a 5 minutes walk away from Vietnam Military Museum and quite easy to find, since it located just right beside a casual bar. And moreover you can see a big potrait of Gordon Ramsay just right in front of the gate so big that you won’t be able to miss it.
Located within walking distance from Temple of Literature and Vietnamese Military Museum, the exact address of this place is 18 Ton That Thiep Street, Ba Dinh district. The restaurant has two choices of outdoor dining or indoor dining. But if you’re alone then they will definitely put you in the indoor dining area, since the outdoor dining table is quite bit and can seat at least 8 people per table. I must say they decorate their restaurant pretty well though.
Just like most of the restaurant in the city, this place opens during lunch time for 11AM – 2PM then having a short break before re-opening for dinner from 5PM – 10PM. I went to this place during lunch time though, well slightly a little bit early during lunch time I must say, so I’m their first customer of the day. Oh yeah! =D I get a good vibe once I stepped inside the restaurant and I get hyped when the staff greets me so cheerily, I got a good feeling on this restaurant just already.
When I saw Gordon Ramsay photo’s hanging outside the restaurant, at first I thought he owned the restaurant, but to my surprise, the staff told me that this place owned by a well-known restaurant owner called Mr Rice. And when I search through internet, I was surprised again to find out that Mr Rice is one of the chefs in Hanoi who has been acknowledged by Gordon Ramsay to help him on his restaurant business venture in Hanoi. Well, we all know how Gordon Ramsay can be so picky, so if this Mr Rice can get an acknowledgement from him, then he must be really good. It doubles my expectation!
This restaurant main focused are on Hanoi’s style traditional Vietnamese food, just as what the restaurant called, Old Hanoi. Even the staffs were wearing all the traditional costume and the ambience also let you getting the feel of it. I must say the owner put in a lot of effort in decorating the places and setting up a traditional vibe so that whoever came to this restaurant can get pretty nostalgic on how old Hanoi city would feel like. I was the first customer and there’s a group of local customers coming in after me, busy taking photo outside of the restaurant before swarming in to the indoor seating.
Aside from the very well decorated restaurant, what amused me is the staffs’ attitude, they were beyond polite I must say, really attentive, but in a way that don’t let you feel annoyed by their attentiveness. I was thinking about trying to eat their baby lobster since the price is so much cheaper compare to what I had in another countries, but to your surprise the staff was being truthful about their menu. The staff who helped me with my order was like “I think that won’t be a really good choice,” so I asked her what she would like to recommend me. She said a fresh spring roll and lemongrass grilled chicken would be a better choice rather than trying out a baby lobster, which I must say I would like to give a two thumbs up since not every restaurant staff would be able to talk truthfully about their restaurant menu.
First, it would be my starter, fresh spring roll. The image of fresh spring roll will be slightly different from what I have in Ho Chi Minh City, which has a more transparent outer layer and the sauce would be a peanut sauce which I must say I love it so much. I was slightly reluctant at first when I saw that the roll skin is not that transparent and the sauce is the spicy sour sauce with garlic and bell pepper in it, but every of my doubts were cleared when I took the first bite, and I immediately noticed why the staff recommended me to try on this menu. Though I still like the transparent skin better but what inside the roll really delicate my taste bud. The veggies were fresh, the pork was slightly grilled that you can slightly smelled the alluring burnt taste, and the prawn was fresh (I’m not a big fan of prawn so I didn’t know how to described it well, lolz!). And, the sauce unlike the spicy sour sauce I tasted back in Ho Chi Minh, it was more well balanced, the spiciness and not too sour with a blend taste of garlic which blends really well with the roll. Okay, now I know why Gordon Ramsay gave his acknowledgement to Mr Rice.
I finish my starter so fast, that I think I didn’t even spend more than 10 minutes to glob everything on the plate. >.< I was so enthusiastic to wait for my main dishes to come out but played it cool by pretend to be busy with my phone, unless it would look like I was some kind of glutton pig who just got out her sty. I must say it didn’t look that pretty but it smelled nice. The thin scent of the lemongrass mixing with the burnt smell if you know what I mean, was a perfect match. The staff told me that the chicken is made out of the breast meat, so don’t expect anything tender and juicy. It slightly a little bit hard to slice, but once it get into your mouth, it was surprisingly easy to bite or munched if you’d like to describe it that way. And the portion was quite big, well at least for my appetite. They literally gave you four big chunks of breast chicken meat. LOLZ. I just managed to finish up two of it and have the other two to be taken away for my dinner that day.
I spent around 240.000 VND for both of the menu with an additional of watermelon juices I requested, which I think was quite a reasonable price in Hanoi for the quality of food you got here.