The measure of a restaurant, in my opinion, is how they deal with walk-ins, which is why I rarely book a table. I figure if they are welcoming, it’s a good sign. When I walked into Quaithoa Seafood Restaurant without a booking, I was quickly ushered to a table for two and handed the menu. I ordered a Hanoi beer (VND35,000) and it arrived quickly, chilled, with extra ice in the glass. I sent the ice back and the empty glass was returned.
While I waited for my dinner companion, the restaurant slowly filled. There were already a few Vietnamese customers having an early dinner, and by the time we left some two hours later, Quaithoa was full with conversation, laughter and shared hot pots.
This is not a large venue, but there is plenty of outside seating, and inside, the décor is sleek, modern and understated. Staff are friendly and speak good English, even though Quaithoa seems to be more of a Vietnamese hangout than an expat one.
The menu is extensive, and included snails, frog and geoduck clam if diners are so inclined. There are also meat, noodle and rice dishes available, and each dish on the menu is accompanied with a large colour photograph to aid selection. The menu is in Vietnamese and English. There was a specials board, written in Vietnamese, but our waitress neither explained the specials, nor recommended any dishes, so we chose from the menu.
My friend opted for the glass noodles with seafood (VND75,000) washed down with tea (VND8,000). I went with sweet potato fries (VND55,000), stir-fried pumpkin shoots with garlic and chilli on the side (VND48,000), scallops baked with spring onions (VND116,000), and salmon baked in cheese (VND220,000).
Sides Served First
Within five minutes, a plate of steaming pumpkin shoots appeared from the kitchen, but the chilli was not on the side as requested. Still, it was easy enough to pick out. This was followed closely by the sweet potato fries, battered and crisp on the outside and all fluffy goodness on the inside. Perfection. My companion requested tomato sauce for dipping, but only chilli sauce was available.
Next came my friend’s glass noodles. It was a generous serve and chock full of shredded cabbage, carrot, onion, squid, prawns and fish. My companion seemed satisfied with the taste, but I would have preferred more flavour.
My baked scallops and salmon were the last to appear. I was served four scallops in their shells with a crumb topping. While I liked the crunch of the crumb, the scallops themselves were tiny. Based on the size, I have to assume that one scallop had been quartered.
All the Cheese
I eagerly awaited my salmon, which is my favourite seafood, and a dish I hardly ever pass up. My salmon arrived, and I was warned by my waitress that the plate was hot, which was a nice touch. It was a generous serve; bite-sized chunks of pink salmon swam in a bath of cheese, the sauce golden and crispy on the top. The salmon itself was tender and moist, but the cheese sauce bland and a little sweet. I would have preferred it with much more of a kick and without sugar. I ate the salmon, and left most of the cheese.
While I would have preferred the serving order of the dishes to be changed, it was a pleasant dining experience, and one I would happily repeat.
Quaithao Seafood Restaurant is located at 3 Duong Thanh, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi and is open seven days per week from 10am to 10pm. For more information, go to facebook.com/quaithao
Food - 10.5
Service - 11
Decor - 10
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
Word reviews anonymously and pays for all meals
Photos by Teague John Blokpoel