Viet Nam News -
Salmonoid, an elegant eatery complete with a dreamy balcony, presents its fresh, well cooked salmon in an array of Vietnamese-style dishes. Mộc Miên reports.
Hà Nội’s outlook on the last few days of spring was dreadful. Eveyone was sick and tired of the saturated air, relentless drizzle and polluted urban smog. I even felt like I lost my appetite in that weather.
But a mass of cold northern air spread across the city and changed our entire outlook. My cravings for good food came back, as if I’d just recovered from a terrible week-long fever. I was thinking about a delicious, healthful meal in a comfortable place near my house. Salmonoid seemed like a perfect choice – a cozy restaurant on the second floor of a house on an old street. It is well-known for its authentic Vietnamese take on salmon.
Taking a few steps into Salmonoid, I thought I’d entered a spa. The narrow passage was very typical of old houses in Hà Nội. Lustrous climbers on both sides of the wall and the pebbly path soothed my mind from the hustle and bustle of the city’s life.
The restaurant’s interior design showed a heavy European influence. Everything was neatly placed, elegant and cozy. Wanting some fresh air from the beautiful weather of Hà Nội, I chose the third floor, where the interior space was connected to a green space outside. I fell in love with the cute, small light bulbs that Salmonoid hung up above the narrow street down below. I was ready to start my food journey at Salmonoid.
I am not a Western cuisine fanatic by nature, so I was pretty impressed knowing that Salmonoid created its special dishes that blended together salmon, a Western ingredient, and Vietnamese herbs, condiments and spices.
I ordered the kumquat salad with sesame as a starter, because of its familiar Vietnamese ingredient cà pháo (also known as eggplant or gboma) and candied kumquat. This dish was truly exciting to me. I am fond of the traditional Vietnamese salad (nộm) that my mother usually makes on traditional holidays or family gatherings; the sour-sweet taste of this salad recalled all my favourite childhood memories.
The pan-seared, sesame-coated salmon was cooked perfectly: crispy on the outside, with the inside cooked just right, remaining tender and juicy. The salmon dish paired nicely with the crunchy texture of the cà pháo, kumquat slices and fresh herbs in the salad, all coming together beautifully in a very Asian, well-seasoned, sweet-sour salad dressing.
I mindfully took time to enjoy the food, feasting my eyes on the surrounding scenery, and realised that Salmonoid was actualised exactly as it was first envisioned by its owner.
“The restaurant is not big, but it has enough personal space, a spacious roof terrace, and open balconies that look out to Hà Nội’s age-old tree rows. Taking a small sip of iced Chardonnay and a bite of salmon, one can enjoy this peaceful atmosphere alone or with friends and family,” said Lê Ngọc Quỳnh, the owner.
After the salad, I continued to be surprised by the main course: Hà Nội-style salmon cake. As a fan of Lã Vọng, Anh Vũ and Thăng Long fish cake, I was familiar with the juicy Hemibagrus fish cake flavoured with blue ginger, fermented rice and pungent Vietnamese shrimp paste. I was curious how salmon cake from Salmonoid would taste, until a waiter brought out an ornate plate.
On the plate was a pot of cooked fish cakes above a small fire to keep the fish warm and its skin crispy. A small plate of bánh đa, the crunchy sesame-sprinkled Vietnam rice cracker, came with fried shallot sauce and crushed roasted peanut. The fresh rice noodle and raw herbs were served creatively in two tiny bamboo baskets, resembling the Vietnamese shoulder pole and hangers. The sweet-sour dipping sauce was a concoction of fresh garlic, chilli and roasted peanut. Succulent, crunchy, buttery, tart, spicy, sweet, salty – a sea of flavours, tastes and textures were present in the dish.
The best thing about the dish was that the outside of the salmon fish cake was as crispy as the traditional ones made of hamibagrus fish. The salmon fish cake was ready-to-serve, unlike the traditional Hà Nội fish cake, where green onion and dill are added into the pot and cooked right on table. Hence, everyone can enjoy the salmon fish cake at Salmonoid without the fear of the lingering smell of fish on their clothes.
The night life had just begun when I finished my meal. The lights at Salmonoid were turned on, along with the lights along the old street down below. The gentle breeze enticed me to stay at the terrace a bit longer. The tables here would be an ideal dinner spot for a small family or a romantic date night, especially with summer just around the corner. The cozy meal with all the healthful, mouth-watering dishes at Salmonoid really invigorated me after the serious fever. A unique brand of East-West fusion from the restaurant design to the menu makes Salmonoid a gem just waiting to be discovered. VNS
Address: 32C Cao Ba Quat St., Ba Dinh Dist., Hanoi
Tel: (04) 32000628
Price: from 110,000VND
Open: 10:00AM – 10.30PM
Comment: Cozy atmosphere, spacious with personal corners, fresh and flavorful salmon.