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May 6, 2006 06:54 PM

Hanoi/Northern Vietnamese food

  • r

I just returned from living in Hanoi and am dying for some real Northern VN grub. I've found a few places that serve Hanoi dishes, but have been seriously disappointed. Anyone have any special recommendations for any of the following dishes?: bun cha (special Hanoi bbq pork with vermicelli), cha ca (pan fried fish in tumeric), bun rieu (special crab noodle soup), or bun oc (snail noodle soup).

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  1. Welcome back. You've got to take yourself to Hanoi Three Seasons on Gerrard east of Broadview. As far as I know, it's the only North Vietnamese restaurant in the city. It definitely has cha ca -- and it's very tasty. Plus, the owner Hai is unbelievably hospitable and makes it feel like he's welcoming you into his own home. Let us know how the place stacks up!

    5 Replies
    1. re: Harissa

      There is actually another one on Queen West on the north side. Can't remember the name though; it is around the vicinity of Drake hotel somewhere. It has bun cha and a few other Hanoi specialties...

      1. re: echeng25

        I also found bun cha at a little place on Dundas near Dufferin. It actually wasn't half bad. Of course it's not as fresh as I like it (I know, I know, I'm not in Hanoi anymore), but it's certainly got that charred pork bun cha taste. Echeng: I'd love to know the name of the place that does it near the Drake if you can remember!

        1. re: Riverdaleto

          There is a place called Hoang Long at 1077 Wilson Ave (Wilson and Keele in the Burger King plaza) that does "authentic" north Vietnamese.

          I have been there twice. Once I had what I believe is the bun cha (special Hanoi bbq pork with vermicelli) and it was outstanding. The second time I had rare beef noodle soup and it was below par(compared to the southern Vietnemese variety in the area).

          Either way, I would definitely go back for the bun cha or to try other dishes.

      2. re: Harissa

        Yes, I keep going there really wanting to like it. Every time I'm disappointed. Despite the name there aren't a whole lot of Hanoi dishes on the menu. Most of the dishes are the same ones you find down the street at the Southern joints (but frankly not as good). Cha ca is the one conspicuous exception which I find only so so. Everyone (including Now and Toronto Life) keeps talking about this place as great Northern Vietnamese food, but I just don't see it.

        1. re: Riverdaleto

          It might be difficult to find something that matches the actual experience of being
          there so you might have to relax your standards of authenticity. But don't give up on the quality
          and support the good restaurants with excellent customer service. I am a regular at
          Hanoi Three Seasons and can vouch for the friendliness and willingness-to-please
          attitude of the owners. Perhaps you can try phoning Hai and letting him know what
          you are looking for?

          Frankly, the quest for certain "authentic" dishes is -- to borrow the title of
          the new movie -- Mission Impossible. My sense is that most "ethnic" restaurants in the
          new immigrant category do not make food for their "insert-name-of-ethnic-group here"-kin
          in order to earn a living. So many regional differences and their kin are likely to
          be poorer and therefore not a good target. If they catered to their kin, inevitably,
          comments will run along these lines: "My grandmother/grandfather/mother/father
          makes a better "insert name of dish here," how can they charge this price?"
          (Just yesterday, I was speaking to a Filipino chef who complained that his worst
          customers are other Filipinos -- they begrudge paying the price he asks for and they
          complain that it is not as good as at home.)

          Consequently, in order to be successful, dishes are made palatable to those of
          us with more disposable income who are there to taste something exotic yet still familiar.

          Just surf this board for discussions about the dearth of an "authentic Mexican
          restaurant" for another example of what I mean.

      3. I don't know about specific items - but my experience with Golden Turtle is it is very authentic (ossington north of Queen)

        1. I'm looking for a Northern Vietnamese (esp. Hanoian) restaurant in Toronto and am bumping this old thread up to see if there are any more current recommendations.