Monday, October 15 2018

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Hải Sản Phố delights Hanoians with ocean’s specialties

Update: September, 23/2018 - 07:00
You are the fisherman: The sea crab is taken directly from the tank according to the customer’s choice. Photos: Hải Sản Phố.
Viet Nam News
By Hồ Hoàng

I received an email last week from a friend of mine, who had just returned after working in Laos for two years. He insisted on meeting me and our two other friends for a small party at Hải Sản Phố restaurant in 48 Liễu Giai Street, as we have been best friends since high school and hadn’t reunited since his departure.

On the way there, I was thinking that finding a parking spot would be a problem due to rush hour in this busy and crowded city. But when I arrived, I was astonished at the restaurant’s premises. It was bigger than I could have imagined. I couldn’t find it easier to park my car as the restaurant’s parking lot is huge and the guidance of the security guard was helpful.

From the outside, the restaurant appears as a large two-floor restaurant with nice decorations. Stepping inside, I could see all decoration more clearly. Beside colourful, shiny lights, there are green plants, and of course, aquariums of sea creatures like crabs, lobsters and various kinds of fish, which looked so lively that I felt like we were inside a marine theme park. I hadn’t tried the food yet, but the decoration surely created a lot of good impressions.

Our appetizer was Rau củ quả hấp kho quẹt (steamed assorted tuberous vegetables, served with simmered shrimp sauce) for VNĐ148,000. There were several kinds of vegetables like white turnip, carrot, broccoli, cauliflower and pumpkin flower buds placed very neatly in a lovely wooden box. But the special secret about this appetizer is what went alongside – the sauce. 

This sauce is an ingenious combination of shrimp, fish sauce, pepper, garlic, bacon, sugar, chili and fresh onion. When dipping the vegetable into this sauce, it brings a whole new sensation as the taste is a perfect blend of salty, sweet, oily and spicy.

The next dish was something I’ve never tried before. It’s "Goby fish soup" (VNĐ58,000) – one of the signature specialties of Hải Sản Phố.

There was a whole goby fish inside each bowl, winning bonus points for decoration. There were also chopped mint leaves to make it even prettier.

“Wow! The soup is so great and the fish is still really firm and succluent. There still are bones inside but I don’t have any trouble to get rid of them,” said my friend Trần Việt Hưng.

According to a waiter, the key to making such a great fish soup is what I referred to earlier as “decoration”. During cooking, the goby will be steamed for a certain time in order to maintain the firmness of its meat and also to create the soup’s rich flavour. Another way of putting it: the bones are really important and that’s the reason why in every bowl of goby soup, there is a whole body of the fish inside.

My friend said that because I haven’t had many chances to try sea food, they ordered some unique dishes (or at least they were unique for me). The next dish was “Steamed mantis shrimp” (VNĐ2.280 million for one kilogram).

Jumbo (not) shrimp: With a 3000m2 place at 48 Liễu Giai street, Hải Sản Phố is one of the biggest restaurants in the center of Hà Nội.
Eat your fiber: The unique dish “steamed vegetable root with simmered shrimp sauce” offers a one-of-the-kind experience.
Goby fish soup - one of the signature specialties from Hải Sản Phố. Photo: Hoàng Hồ.

The mantis shrimp, in my opinion, is a very special kind of sea creature. It has a sharp shell: a pair of pincers that look just like a praying mantis. But despite its mighty appearance, the meat inside was similar to shrimp: fresh, firm and somehow with its own unique flavour.

The sauce accompanying the steamed mantis shrimp is lemon salt sauce: Tasty and simple at its best. It’s also a favourite snack for beer lovers like us, and it was amazing.

The fun thing about this restaurant is that you can choose a dish for yourself by selecting from among the sea creatures swimming inside the aquariums at the restaurant. My friends wanted me to choose our next dish, which we’d eat with our bare hands, so I called for four sea crabs (VNĐ580,000 for one kilogram).

Normally, what decides whether the crab is good is the firmness of the meat, the amount of meat inside the pincer and the amount of crab’s roe inside the shell. So we decided to order this to finalize our judgment of this restaurant.

Undoubtedly, all four crabs met the standard. After smashing a pincer, there were meat, meat and meat without any water—in crabs, more water means less meat and less quality. The first thing I saw inside the shell was the huge amount of red roe. By dredging up the roe with a spoon, every bite delivered the healthy greasy roe at its best. 

“The taste of this sea crab is really similar to the time I tried the dish at Hải Sản Phố in Đà Nẵng last year, when the freshness and quality were at their peak,” said another friend of mine who had experienced Hải Sản Phố’s second branch in Đà Nẵng.

“Hà Nội or Đà Nẵng, there’s no difference. We import the ingredients from the same source – the ocean – in order to maintain the maritime flavour of every creature and to preserve the reputation of the restaurant,” said the waiter.— VNS

 

Hải sản phố Restaurant

Tel: 094 188 8148

Address: 48 Liễu Giai, Liễu Giai, Cống Vị, Ba Đình Dist., Hà Nội

Opening hours: Everyday from 10am to 10pm

Comment: Fresh èeafood, tasty dishes and cosy space at affordable price

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