Ru Nam soothes the stomach and heart

February 12, 2023 - 10:13
Ru Nam has an extensive menu, which serves a limited mixture of everything, which can cater to very different tastes
CLASSIC: You feel as if you were in a nice café in Paris, but the motorbikes say this is Hà Nội. VNS Photos Mỹ Hà

by Nguyễn Mỹ Hà

Ru Nam Café on Nhà Thờ Street is a place to sit back, relax and take it easy. The café's name in itself sounds soothing, like a lullaby. Ru Nam used to have a few places scattered in the city. Sadly, its café on Phan Chu Trinh Street overlooking the splendid Opera House closed a while ago.

The one on Nhà Thờ, a short stretch of cafés, souvenir shops, and fashion houses, is nestled next to the bright plastic stools of iced tea vendors, which give it a colourful feeling.

I plan to go here for a long-delayed meeting of our high-school friends, where we will forget about our daily work or health issues, where we can feel comfortable, and love and be loved for no particular reason. It's where we can say something silly and meaningless, and our friends will either kindly take it as a joke or flatly tell us that we are crazy.

Ru Nam has two floors, with large tables and comfy chairs, but the spacing is tight, as it's located on one of the most expensive streets of the city.

TASTY: Roasted duck noodle comes in a big portion, enough to share if you want to save some room for other things.

Ru Nam has an extensive menu, which serves a limited mixture of everything, which can cater to very different tastes from a phở [beef noodles] to an egg noodle soup.

We had a special phở with oxtail (VNĐ230,000). Beef oxtail is a special and secret ingredient for traditional phở chefs to make their broth irresistible. Not available in the wet market, if you want to purchase some, you'd have to order at a special butcher.

Apart from adding oxtail cuts to the large broth pot, they can be simmered or slow cooked with medicinal herbs to make a health soup or a family hot pot during winter. The Ru Nam oxtail phở was exceptional. It is delicious to have once in a while.

My dining companion had a roasted duck noodle soup (VNĐ230,000), which tasted great. Each bowl had a quarter of a duck, and you either get half a duck breast or a leg. Again, the portion is big enough to share with your dining partner, and still feel full.

The menu features other great items for lunch such as a roasted chicken salad (VNĐ160,000) or a roasted shrimp roll with angel hair vermicelli coin buns (VNĐ230,000), fried rice with kimchi and pork belly (VNĐ230,000), or fried rice Thai style (VNĐ170,000).

After a full meal, a hot tea shall put a perfect end to the prolonged lunch. But the egg coffee (VNĐ120,000) looked so inviting we could not resist the urge to try. And we weren't disappointed. The coffee was just perfect, with a combination of flavours, sweet, bitter and a touch of liquor to absorb the raw egg fragrance.

After having many egg coffees around town, from the oldest café with established tradition of making egg coffee, to many sidewalk cafés, this is by far the best egg coffee in town.

Even if you're not a fan of the sweet taste of condensed milk, Ru Nam egg coffee won't let you down. I would make another trip here just for the hot cup only.

BEST IN THE CITY: Even if you do not want to dine in, a Ru Nam egg coffee is well worth a visit.

Ru Nam also has an assorted list of pastry worth trying. We had some tiramisu, but did not have enough to review the whole range of pastry of the café.

Ru Nam used to have a signature Singapore frog porridge on the menu, which was very popular among Vietnamese for its spicy and tasty frog legs, so I was disappointed to find out that they had a new menu and the frog porridge was no longer served.

When we got out of the café, a group of well-dressed, nicely coiffed ladies sitting next to us lingered to chat outside the shop. They asked us to take a photo for them, and they told us, they went to school together some 60 years ago.

"We went to secondary school together," one said. "And today one of us is visiting us from abroad. I must tell you, nothing has changed. We felt just like when we were kids going to school together."

We parted telling each other to keep working on our health so in 30 years' time, we could still meet for a coffee and have some fun banter together. VNS

Ru Nam Cafe

13 Nhà Thờ, Hoàn Kiếm Dist. Hà Nội

Tel: 024 3928 6697

Budget: 50.000đ - 418.000đ

Comment: Good food, great location