|Warming: A bowl of my hoanh thanh (wonton noodle soup) warms you up on a cold day. — VNS Photos Luong Thu Huong
A street-side restaurant in the heart of the capital is serving up both an atmosphere that is going down well with locals. Luong Thu Huong reports.
My Vit Tiem (duck stew noodle soup) and dim sum are popular Chinese dishes in southern Viet Nam, especially in HCM City.
Trying the dishes was one of my lasting memories on visiting the city, so on learning that they are now on offer in one restaurant in Ha Noi, I could not have been more excited.
Located on Phan Boi Chau Street, Minh Ky Dimsum and Noodles Restaurant is outstanding in comparison with nearby dim-lit cafes and restaurants.
Passers-by or visitors will feel as if they were lost in a street corner of Hoi An ancient town, as the entrance of the restaurant is decorated with many red lanterns which are brightly lit at night, rousing the feeling of cosiness and nostalgia.
In the morning, many office workers from the nearby buildings flock to the restaurant to enjoy its menu, which comprises various Chinese traditional dishes of strange but delicious tastes.
In the evening, it turns into a favourite rendezvous of the youth, especially after 10pm when the whole restaurant is brightened with the light of the oil lamps, which create a very impressive experience.
"The cosy and gentle light of the old lamps aim to bring comfort and relaxation after a hard day of work. It is also a suitable time of the day to enjoy steaming hot delicious food while feeling the slow pace of life at night," said Pham Vi, the manager of the restaurant.
|Rich: A bowl of my vit tiem (roasted duck noodle soup) has a stunning flavour from its broth.
Welcoming us right at the entrance of the little restaurant were the gentle smiles of the waiters who got dressed in Chinese-traditional uniforms. A small space at the entrance is dedicated to the chef to perform his cooking shows to customers.
The restaurant was nearly full when my friends and I arrived. What impressed us immediately were the brightly red tables and long benches, decorated with lovely flower pots on top. Each of us had just a small place to sit due to the limited space. As if we were sitting in a modest street noodle stall in Hong Kong, one of my friends commented.
As one of the most famous Chinese food items, it is no surprise that dim sum is present in most menus of Chinese-styled restaurants, from the ordinary to luxurious ones, and Minh Ky is not exclusive. The cuisine is prepared in small portions of food and served in small steamer baskets or on small plates.
In Minh Ky restaurant, the dim sum menu is very diverse, from the familiar steamed dishes such as shrimp dumpling, shumai to varied fried dishes such as fried shallot cakes, crispy fried tofu and fish roll.
Before having the main dish, four of us wished to try shrimp dumplings, shumai and char siew dumplings. Each steamer baskets contain four pieces of dim sum, except for the char siew dumplings which were served in two portions.
Both shrimp dumplings and shumai were prepared so skilfully with soft, chewy and thin cake crust that the colour of the stuffing inside can be seen. I was really impressed with the taste of the shrimp, which taste so sweet, fresh and well combined with the soft crust outside.
|Want one? In Minh Ky restaurant, the dim sum menu is very diverse.
Meanwhile, the steaming hot char siew dumplings warmed up our bellys with their stuffing, which is a mixture of the char siew sauce, onion, lean meat and carrot. The dumpling looked so attractive when opening up after being steamed, revealing tempting red-coloured stuffing inside.
Besides dim sum, there are also a variety of noodles served in the restaurant, like wonton noodles, combination noodles, and especially, duck stew noodle.
|Fresh flavour: The decoration of the restaurant makes it look like a street-side food stall in Hong Kong.
A typical bowl of roasted duck stew noodle must include fresh egg noodles, a duck thigh braised with medicinal herbs and scalded Chinese cabbage. The deliciousness of the cuisine is determined by the toughness of the noodle, the sweet taste of the meat and of the broth.
The noodle soup in Minh Ky is served in a huge bowl, which attracted us immediately with their stunning flavour from their broth.
Minh Ky Dimsum and Noodles
Add: 44A Phan Boi Chau Street, Hoan Kiem District, Ha Noi
Hotline: (04) 6660 3939
Operation hour: 7am-12pm
Comment: A variety of Chinese traditional dishes; cosy atmosphere, especially after 10pm when the old lamps are lit.
The noodle was both fresh and leathery without being friable. Meanwhile, the duck thigh, the main "character" of the whole bowl, was so 'herbally' aromatic on the very first bite. It was very tender and tasty! The broth was such a great combination between the herbs and spices that we were left scraping the bottom of the bowl.
I could not be more pleased on indulging myself in the delicious cuisine I had the chance to taste on my recent visit to HCM City. I was also so glad that I have one more restaurant address in my pocket so that I could enjoy my favourite dish.
Minh Ky Dimsum and Noodles is really a recommended restaurant for those who wish to try something different from Ha Noi's other famous dishes like pho (beef noodle) or bun oc (snail noodle). — VNS