I find it strange that Vietnamese food is not more prevalent in the UK. I suppose it isn’t strange, as it doesn’t have the same history with the UK as some cuisines do, or isn’t as visited a destination, but the food itself has the right combination of freshness, sparkling flavours and exotic appeal to prove popular with this country’s jaded palettes.
I am assuming our palettes are jaded because in the average supermarket one can find 6 different flavours of hummus.
Anyway, The Hanoi Bike Shop recently popped up in Ruthven Lane in the West End of Glasgow. The family members we were visiting were all in favour of going, so we popped in for lunch one day.
The bike shop theme has been pushed to the max, with bike parts strewn around the place and hung on the walls. It gives the place a pretty cool and unique feel.
The food comes when it comes, and there is a good choice of well-known dishes such as pho and banh mi. I had a Thit Dong Banh Mi (chunky pork and woodear mushroom), and the one pictured above is the Gio Lua (Vietnamese sausage). I felt the bread could have been a bit more robust and crunchy, but the filling was enjoyable, though I would have liked a bit more sticky sweetness to the pork. I accompanied it with a Mi Anxa Lach (Vermicelli Noodle Salad dressed with Nuoc Cham) which was a generous portion of deliciously light and fresh cold noodle salad with veggies and a sweet fiery acidic dressing.
H went for a Bun Bo Hue Pho, which was a spicy pork and beef variant of the traditional noodle soup.
The fresh mint, coriander, bean sprouts and chilli added last really made the soup pop.
There were also some specials on offer including some crispy aubergine fritters that almost converted H to this somewhat bland vegetable.
And, of course, desserts. I was actually pretty full so contented myself with stealing bits of other people’s.
The one pictured below was a lemongrass tart with palm sugar cream.
It was a pleasant variant on a standard lemon tart, but H’s Thai basil ice cream was a startling winner – creamy and unexpected, the aniseed notes shone through.
Prices for most dishes ranged between £5 and £10, with some cheaper bits and bobs.
The Vietnamese coffee was apparently good too, and wins points for being served in individual cup filters.