Viet Nam News
By Mộc Miên
As a beef lover, I can savour the meat three to four days in a row, so every beef restaurant is enticing to me.
From the Vietnamese-style beefsteak commonly sold on Hòe Nhai Street to beef hotpots and Bò nhúng dấm – beef dipped in vinegar-flavoured broth to even the fine European-style restaurants, all of them arouse my curiosity. I do not waste any time giving them a try.
In fact, I know that to have a dish of fresh, delicious, and high-quality beef is not an easy thing to do. As a Vietnamese saying goes, "something expensive is worth the money". However, I have to truly thank my girlfriend for taking me to a restaurant where the food was available at an affordable price, and yet made me so happy. The simple name of the restaurant tells us all about its core: Hanoi Steak.
Unlike the eye-catching ornate decor of many European-style restaurants that I usually see in Hà Nội, the simple outer look of Hanoi Steak was a slight turn-off. I expected the restaurant located on the Lapho Slope near the West Lake to have an elegant and romantic decor to fit in with this unique area. In contrast, although its location was on the slope connecting two streets, Thụy Khuê and Hoàng Hoa Thám, Hanoi Steak stayed humble, quiet and refreshing.
I arrived at Hanoi Steak around 6:30 on a Sunday evening. Small flickering light bulbs were hung on top of the trees outside the restaurant. After being there, I realised that Hanoi Steak shared its venue with another restaurant and understood why my friend had to RSVP to make sure that we would be served.
Dishes on the Hanoi Steak’s menu did not have conspicuous names to impress customers. We were recommended the two most remarkable specialties by the restaurant owner: Tender-chewy beefsteak and silver beefsteak.
"I am really curious about the food quality here because everything seems so simple. The names of the dishes are all short and simple," I shared with my girlfriend.
The tender-chewy beefsteak was served on a big plate in front of me. A 250-gram serving of the American beef from the top blade for two people, marinated with minced herbs, ground pepper and sea salt. The fact that the meat was grilled on charcoal made it so much more delicious to me because I was a big fan of the traditional grilled dishes of Vietnamese cuisine.
Honestly speaking, the giant serving of tender-chewy beefsteak was a concern to me as both of us would be full and would have no room in our stomachs for the upcoming Silver Steak. However, after taking the first bite of the steak, I realised that I had been unduly concerned. I was totally impressed by the firm yet still tender texture of the steak, full of flavours and punctuated by the sweet-spicy pepper sauce. The dish had a much more interesting texture than the loin steak that I normally had. The steak was cooked perfectly medium-rare and retained its sweetness and succulence. The glorious meat juice oozed out every time I cut a bite to eat.
"The steak is half-done. Normally, at other restaurants, the steak retains some red spots but the juice has all dried up. Hanoi Steak has a very fine grilling technique," my friend shared.
"This is a truly special technique of Hanoi Steak. At other restaurants the beefsteaks serves were all dried up, and the customers could never enjoy the juicy, naturally sweet taste of the beef," Nguyễn Tuấn Việt, the Hanoi Steak owner, told.
"It seems like my wine sauce is a little bit too thin and too sour for my taste," my friend said while I deeply relished the steak with the delicious mushroom-pepper sauce.
While we were still eating the first dish, the waiter brought the silver steak to our table. Another surprise!
The second dish was wrapped in the aluminium foil, inside which was the 400-gram serving of top-blade beef, marinated in sea salt, fresh herbs, pepper from Nha Trang, and French wine for exactly two hours before being grilled on charcoal. After being grilled, the steak required two minutes rest before being served to customers to maximise its texture and natural juiciness.
As soon as the waiter unwrapped the foil, we were all amazed by the piping hot dish that appeared in front of our eyes. The green peppercorns and herbs garnished on top of the steak spread a wonderful savoury smell. We quickly put the chewy-tender steak aside and waited for a slice of Silver steak from the wooden tray.
"The Silver steak still has the sweetness and flavour of fresh meat but will be slightly more tender and drier than our previous steak," my friend commented right after her first bite of the steak dipped in sauce.
I tried my first bite with the newly served mushroom cream sauce, which was filled with aroma. The new sauce was not my cup of tea because it was too sweet for my taste and the creamy taste was not as good as I expected. Hence, I switched back to the mushroom sauce I loved. We slowly relished the dish with the fine French wine.
I then somehow managed to sense the passion of the restaurant owner, a student in France for many years who truly enjoyed the unforgettably delicious French-style beefsteak. In other words, through Hanoi Steak, the restaurant owner managed to share with everyone his passion for French cuisine, and bring its finest values to Hà Nội residents. — VNS
Address: #1 Lapho Slope (#21 Thụy Khuê, connecting Bach Thao Botanical Park và Thuy Khue Str)
Opening time: 6pm to 10pm – Mon-Fri; 11 pm to 1pm and 6 pm to 10pm – Saturday to Sunday.
Price: Chewy-tender beefsteak 150 grams for VND95,000; 250 grams for VND150,000.
Silver beefsteak 400 gram serving for 2 people for VND360,000.
Comment: Fresh meat, finely cooked, affordable price.