Huong Duong keeps it simple and sincere
|Something for everyone: Office workers enjoy tasty and well-priced dishes at Huong Duong Restaurant. — VNS/Photos Truong Van Vi
|Fried favourite: Fried do dua (beef and bean vegetables), a common Vietnamese dish with locals and foreigners.
|Taking the heat: Pork stuffed bitter melon, an excellent summer dish.
Huong Duong restaurant
Address: 16A Nguyen Cong Tru Street, Hai Ba Trung District, Ha Noi
Tel: +844 39713627/28
Hours: 24 hours
Price: VND50,000-70,000 (US$2.5-3.5) per meal
Comment: tasty traditional Vietnamese and Asian dishes with reasonable prices for every gourmet
Huong Duong restaurant attracts diners from all backgrounds – foreign, local, rich, poor – partly because it has two menues, for the better off and those with a budget, and partly because the food is excellent. Ha Nguyen
reports.Huong Duong Restaurant is not luxurious but it attracts both local and foreign guests because of its tasty traditional Vietnamese and Asian dishes with affordable prices and, more importantly, it offers good service by friendly staff.
Such was the case with a group of South Korean student volunteers who recently arrived in Viet Nam to work in the northern province of Nam Dinh.
After finishing a three-month mission they asked me to lead them to a budget hotel and Huong Duong came to mind. It also has a restaurant attached and we decided to try it. We were lucky to arrive on a cool day during the severe hot summer.
The hotel staff welcomed me with a friendly smile and brought all of the guests a cup of tea. After checking in, we went to the restaurant where the menu included different kinds of soups, such as crab and eel, plus roasted chicken and prawns.
The Korean students were confused about how to choose the dishes so after several minutes of discussion, we decided to try special dishes designed for office workers and common eaters because of their affordable prices and the fact they were true Vietnamese traditional dishes.
There are three different menus for office workers and commoners. The first one priced at VND50,000 ($2.25) includes shrimp roasted with pork, meat balls in tomato sauce, fried anchovy, fried mustard greens, tofu with tomato sauce, rice and desserts including pineapple, orange, and water melon.
The second menu is priced at VND60,000 ($3) per ration and the third menu VND70,000 ($2.25). These two menus have other traditional dishes such as fried meat balls and fried chicken with ginger.
All the food tasted fresh and hot, which came as a relief after various disappointing experiences we'd had in traditional Vietnamese eateries, involving cold tofu and brown-tinged salads.
The Korean students said they were pleased with the restaurant and would tell their friends to come to Huong Duong when they visited Viet Nam.
Restaurant director Nghiem Dac Hinh told the Viet Nam News that his hotel aimed to serve commoners such as students, travellers and office employees.
He said many Japanese students had registered to stay and eat at Huong Duong during their short-term visits to Viet Nam for study or research because the hotel offered them good security, accommodation and low-budget dishes.
"We've co-operated with universities and colleges to supply high-quality dishes at cheap prices for students," said Hinh.
Other Chinese and French diners said they chose Huong Duong because, apart from reasonable prices, the hotel and restaurant's location was conveniently located on Nguyen Cong Tru Street in Hai Ba Trung District.
One Chinese woman said the premises had a tasteful interior and there was a a bursting flea market nearby from which to buy souvenirs, plus other crowded streets selling motorbikes, garments and cosmetics.
Nguyen Anh Tuan, a government employee, said most of his colleagues opted to lunch at Huong Duong and for that reason the dishes were changed every day to satisfy the regulars.
Tuan said they also enjoyed breakfast, such as goose vermicelli or beef and chicken soups, both at VND30,000 or $1.50 a dish.
"Everything here is clean, hygienic and tasty and really traditional Vietnamese," said Tuan, adding that coffee and tea were also excellent and of high quality.
Restaurant director Hinh said that apart from offering dishes for office workers, the restaurant had a menu for tour groups and for takeaway orders.
These dishes include fried chicken wings with butter, steamed chicken with lemon leaves and pork stuffed into cuttle-fish.
Other dishes include crab meat and sweet maize soup, braised carp with spicy tomato sauce and steamed clam with ginger and lemongrass.
Korean student Kim Tae-hee said Huong Duong Restaurant suited the diners because of its variety of traditional Vietnamese dishes that catered for both Vietnamese and foreign tastes.
We would have tried more on the menu, which has dishes with flavours of the land and sea in a variety of preparations, but we were full.
At our last visit, any culinary shortcomings were more than compensated for by a wide selection of menu options, serene atmosphere and friendly, attentive staff. — VNS