Vinsteak. Photo by Vu Bao Khanh

At the top of Xuan Dieu, Hanoi’s smog melts away. The sky is bluer, the air is lighter, and so am I, as I take off my facemask to breathe in the peaceful outskirts’ air. Suddenly, I get a whiff of something better than air — steak. I roll my bicycle onto The VinSteak’s kerb, eager to try the latest player in Hanoi’s competitive steak game.

 

The VinSteak occupies the space that formerly housed Bluebird, and is Bluebird Vietnam’s latest restaurant concept. Centred around high-quality imported steaks and wines, The VinSteak delivers indulgent dining experiences to everyone from the homesick expat (the VND300,000 set lunch, which includes a hefty rib-eye, is a steal) to the diplomat distingué.

 

I’m ceremoniously greeted with a luscious café latte before Executive Chef Daniel Hau arrives to deliver a lunch that is far from light.

Vinsteak. Photo by Vu Bao Khanh

Vinsteak. Photo by Vu Bao Khanh 

Paired to Perfection

 

First, we’re treated to a signature — The VinSteak amuse bouche. The house-made hoisin sauce overpowers the hearty duck taste that I crave from the dainty duck rolls, but all’s well when I slip a duck-liver paté medallion into my mouth. I let the velvety richness of the paté linger before taking a swig of Chilean malbec.

 

David Pannetier, the manager, appears wielding two nearly empty bowls. “Pumpkin soup,” he exclaims. “But… I only see croutons…” I begin, just as David lifts a pitcher and pours a heavenly smelling broth in a spiralling motion around the centre mound of oil-drenched croutons, cream and a triumphant sprig of rosemary. It evokes Thanksgiving, and I’m thankful that the photographer has his own bowl so I can dig in immediately. The pumpkin soup (VND75,000) is sweet and smooth, with a subtle nuttiness from butternut squash and cashews. It pairs well with the chardonnay, the wine’s sharpness cutting the soup’s silkiness.

 

Done with the opening acts, it’s time for business. A sizzle in the distance, and out comes our steak, an Australian Ribeye (VND380,000, but part of the set lunch) on a sizzling platter (think bit tet but fancier), flanked by heaps of roasted veggies. I fear that the nonstop sizzle may cause our steak to overcook, but I'm proven wrong when I cut into the meat to reveal a juicy pink interior. While the steak is slightly under-salted for my MSG-ridden palate, the mushroom, pepper and red wine dipping sauces (again, house-made) offer the punches of flavour I desire. I take great pleasure dipping the tender, steak-soaked mushrooms into the mushroom sauce, and the pepper sauce adds heat to the buttery roasted potatoes. This is refined comfort food done right.

Vinsteak. Photo by Vu Bao Khanh

Vinsteak. Photo by Vu Bao Khanh 

Sugar Fest

 

No meal is complete without chocolate, so our feast concludes with an oozy hot chocolate fondant (VND145,000). As I scoop out the divine insides, I feel like I’m living my childhood fantasy of eating an entire bowl of brownie batter, and it feels good.

 

To aid our digestion, David takes us on a tour of VinSteak’s premises, from the swanky private rooms in the cellar to an even bigger, even brighter second-floor dining room.

 

VinSteak has it all: hospitality, presentation, food and wine. While I don’t see myself attending any of their bigwig cigar dinners soon, you bet I’ll be back for the discounted set lunch. Because if there’s anything I love as much as a good steak, it’s a good bargain. 

 

VinSteak is at 7 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi

Vinsteak. Photo by Vu Bao Khanh

Vinsteak. Photo by Vu Bao Khanh

Vinsteak. Photo by Vu Bao Khanh

Noey Neumark

A Californian living in New York, Noey traded one crazy city for another when she moved to Hanoi. A former food publicist and self-proclaimed ‘professional eater’, Noey is happily feasting her way through Vietnam and has no shame about taking photos of her meals before eating. Follow @vietnomnom for evidence.

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