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.

Venture through the entrance of Mekong Merchant and you will find yourself in an open-air rustic patio where two verdant trees dominate the sky and lend a cooling shade to the whole place.

I discovered Quan Kien on a rainy Wednesday night when I almost didn’t go out. Only the fact that a friend was leaving for Italy soon, persuaded me.

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