We chose Hanoi Cafe because we hadn’t made a booking and the wait at Mein Tay and Viet Grill was too long, this is not the best way to pick a Saturday night dining option.
The spring rolls were big, nice, and freshly rolled, however the dipping sauce seemed a little wrong, it was dense, a weird cloudy brown and it needed more lime.
The fried crab was ok but a tiny serving, which I guess for £4 is all I should expect. It tasted like fried chicken rather than crab, the crabbiness was fried out of it I guess.
The betal leaf with beef was disappointing, the beef tasted old, it was even grey in colour, generally flavourless and another minuscule serving.
We had the Grilled Pork Bún Khô, this is pork with vermicelli rice noodle and salad served with nuoc cham dressing (fish sauce with lime, water and sugar). This plate was quite huge, however a large proportion of the plate was given over to the very pointless bean sprout which annoyingly is always used to fill out Vietnamese dishes. The pork rather than that smokey lemongrass bbq flavour we expected was slightly curried flavour with a tinge of yellow, it was ok but not punchy enough and way too sad for Vietnamese.
The Crispy fried whole fish (tilapia) topped with lemongrass and chill was tasty, though the skin was by no means crispy, it was soggy from being overly sauced. Unfortunately it also ended up being raw in the middle. They weren’t that busy and we waited a long time for our mains so it should have been cooked properly.
The Grilled aubergine slices with tangy sauce were again boring, It needed more punch, there was nothing tangy about it, it was just sticky.
Hanoi Cafe was greatly disappointing, the food lacked the freshness and punch that good Vietnamese should have. The sauces were weird and bad. The staff were nice enough and it is BYO but forget this place and go to somewhere else instead.
(So much hating lately, my apologies)