As French chef Didier Corlou leads me through Porte d’Annam, I feel as though I’m on a tour of his childhood home. With one prized possession and anecdotal photograph after the next — 19th-century maps of Hanoi here, cherished paintings of Uncle Ho there — Porte d’Annam’s interior is homey yet grand.

Matsuzakaya’s story is that of a cool Japanese restaurant which stands at a corner in one of the alleys of Le Thanh Ton and perfumes its intense magic all around. This is an original and cosy joint in which to enjoy a seriously good ramen, among other assorted Japanese fare.

Down an alley off Co Giang in District 1, a cosy taqueria sticks out from the neighbouring Vietnamese eateries.

I’d heard there was an Egyptian restaurant in town, so one lunchtime I thought it would be a good idea to check out what were sure to be some new and different flavours. When I arrived at the restaurant’s front door, I was a little confused, as the single small sign with the place’s name was practically hidden.

Having eaten several burgers in the service of Word readers, I feel somewhat qualified to declare a ‘short-list’ of sorts. It’s not necessary, because there’s no official competition going on, but when it comes to food wars, let's face it, the battle of the burger is never over.

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.

If you get into heated debates over rosters, rotations, off-side traps and LBWs, don’t be ashamed, it’s fine — you couldn’t be in a better place right now.

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