French cuisine just off Giang Vo. The location seems incongruous, but as our mystery diner discovers, the food and service is anything but. Photos by Julie Vola

 

I’ve been craving a Caesar salad for a while, so when I saw one on the menu at EMM’s Cafe (VND90,000), with an option to add chicken for VND30,000, I jumped at the opportunity with high expectations, and wasn’t disappointed.

 

I was happy to walk into EMM’s one lunchtime being greeted by the staff immediately and shown where to park. The open-plan seating allowed me to find my friend easily and take a seat; the jazz music set a relaxing atmosphere.

 

The Menu

 

The menu has an eclectic selection of French cuisine including cold cuts and cheese platters from VND249,000, soups and salads from VND55,000, sandwiches and wraps from VND100,000, and pastas and mains from VND90,000. They also have a small selection of homemade desserts from VND25,000.

 

We ordered the chicken Caesar salad to share as an entrée, with a glass of house chardonnay (VND60,000), and mains to come later. The salad was presented perfectly with little quail eggs used instead of the usual chicken eggs, which was a nice touch. The dressing was the star of the show, bringing the meal together with perfect zest. The chicken was flavoursome, and was not too dry.

 

Once we finished the salad down to the last crunchy crouton, my friend and I leant back in our padded chairs, and at that moment, a drop of water fell from the roof and plopped right into my wine. Now usually I would have an ‘ehh’ moment, but I decided to kindly let the staff know.

 

The owner of the restaurant came over and I let him know what happened. He apologised and replaced the glass happily, as well as moving our table and chairs over and giving us a short history lesson on the building explaining why it was dripping at the moment. He assured us that it was getting fixed as soon as possible.

 

Flexible

 

This moment gave me a good chance to check out the décor, and note how easily the tables and chairs were to manoeuvre. I noticed this throughout the meal when the staff would happily move groups of tables and chairs together, and break them up again, depending on the size of the groups coming through. Even with all this movement and people, it never felt too busy or crowded, and talking was never difficult.

 

I had the stuffed chicken breast with three cheeses for my main. For VND140,000 you’ll get six pieces of spinach stuffed chicken, steamed carrots and beans, a small pot of mushroom sauce, and thick-cut chips to top it all off. I started with a carrot, and as I put it into my mouth I was blown away. I don’t know what it was, I don’t know how they did it, but it was the best carrot I have ever had. It was not too soft, not too crunchy, and had a sweet, buttery flavour to it. The chicken was perfectly moist, stuffed with spinach to create a complimentary aftertaste. My friend enjoyed the prosciutto panini, although we were unsure if it was prosciutto or if it was simply ham.

 

We ordered the chocolate fondant (VND70,000) for dessert and when it arrived, I was disheartened by the portion size. However, after one spoonful, I understood why it was so small, as the rich chocolate flavour was almost — but not quite — too much for one. The vanilla ice cream served with it is the perfect addition.

 

If you’re someone who likes to explore outside of the comfort zone of Tay Ho or the Old Quarter, and are looking for somewhere to have a relaxed lunch or dinner out, with great service and a pleasant atmosphere, EMM’s is a good place to try.

 

EMM’s is located at 110 D1 Tran Huy Lieu, Ba Dinh, Hanoi and is open from 7.30am to 11pm every day

 


 

The Verdict

 

Food: 12

 

Service: 15

 

Décor: 13

 

Food, Decor and Service are each rated on a scale of 0 to 15.

 

13 — 15 extraordinary to perfection

10 — 12.5 very good to excellent

8 — 9.5 good to very good

5 — 7.5 fair to good

0 — 4.5 poor to fair

 

The Word reviews anonymously and pays for all meals

The Word

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