Saturday, November 28 2020


Mỳ Quảng Bếp Tâm, finding central region’s favourite food in the heart of Hà Nội

Update: November, 25/2018 - 09:00
Fresh: The veal and eggplant salad. — VNS Photo Mỹ Hà
Viet Nam News

By Nguyễn Mỹ Hà

Hàng Bài Street in Hà Nội is like the city’s principal vein. It’s the thoroughfare from the south leading up north to Hoàn Kiếm Lake with heavy traffic day and night. It’s a downtown street for fancy clothes boutiques and electronic outlets on one side, and Hà Nội’s oldest secondary school on the other.

The hefty rental prices discourage restaurateurs, so when we heard about a mỳ Quảng noodle shop that had just opened, we were surprised and wanted to give it a try.

Bếp Tâm, as it’s explained in the restaurant’s mantra, means cooking in a cosy home kitchen, just like your mother or grandmother used to make.

But in actual fact, Bếp Tâm is spacious with a modern, clean decor.

The menu features Đà Nẵng’s most famous dishes, but restaurant quality rather than streetfood style.

We ordered a salad, gỏi bê bóp cà pháo, (veal and aubergine salad, VNĐ120,000), which was fresh, well-marinated and chewy.

Then we had a bánh xèo, which was crispy, and the stuffing of pork and shrimp tasted really good. But my gourmet friend complained that the batter for the crepes had too much coconut milk or powder in it, making them too strong. To be honest, I loved the crispy crepes and the fresh mustard greens, so the batter didn’t bother me. I only realized the strong coconut flavour after my friend pointed it out.

Bếp Tâm offers favourite dishes from the central region and the south, like bánh xèo, nem lụi (roasted pork paste with assorted vegetables), and flower hotpot (VNĐ350,000) and fish hotpot (VNĐ399,000).

But the signature dishes are eight kinds of mỳ Quảng noodles. It’s really the highlight of the menu: chicken, beef, fish, eel, frog, crab, and shrimp. Prices range from VNĐ55,000 to VNĐ79,000, but if you want to splash out, for want of a better term, Bếp Tâm noodles (VNĐ120,000) has a bit of everything.

DIY: Diners can mix their own mỳ Quảng to their taste. — VNS Photo Mỹ Hà
Snack time: Noodles, fresh herbs and rice crackers. — VNS Photo Mỹ Hà
Shrimptastic: Crispy shrimp wraps, something like a roll, but with less meat. — VNS Photo Mỹ Hà

Chef Nga said originally the famous noodles only came with chicken or pork. Fish, eel or frog were added sporadically throughout the region depending on what was in season.

“My husband is from Tam Kỳ, (the provincial town of Quảng Nam Province), the heart of the mỳ Quảng noodle region.”

Mỳ Quảng is popular there, they cook it for family gatherings, weddings and funerals.

Now in its third month, Nga said she has already had compliment from her customers. Some like the way she cooks here because it’s not as salty as the version you can find in Đà Nẵng or Quảng Nam.

“Hanoians are quite demanding, they like it less salty and more flavourful not only from the meat, but also the vegetables and fruit cooked in the broth,” she said.

I personally like the way they present the noodle at Bếp Tâm: noodles, vegetables and a hotpot brimming with broth.

“It tastes better when people decide to mix the noodle the way they want,” Nga said. “We can mix it well, but some like more noodles and some prefer more vegetables; they can mix their own dish."

There’s a difference between mỳ Quảng noodles and other noodle soups: it’s not burning hot like phở or other noodle soups and can still be enjoyed like a salad.

“In the cold winter in Hà Nội, we like to have the soup really hot for the dish,” Nga said.

Another soup-based dishes from the central region are also available, such as bánh canh (manioc-based free range noodles) with different extras like fish (VNĐ55,000), pork paste from Nam Phổ (in Huế) or pork from Trảng Bàng in Tây Ninh Province (both VNĐ65,000) each.

For desert, you can choose from a few sweet drinks, or chè, on the menu. We ordered chè thốt nốt hạt é (Asian palmyra dessert, VNĐ22,000) and two kinds of banana cakes (VNĐ25,000), but only the first drink was available.

We returned to work after spending under VNĐ200,000 each feeling content, but we still wondered how a brand new restaurant like this, no matter how well it is doing, can overcome the throat-cut rental costs in the area. — VNS


Mỳ Quảng Bếp Tâm

Address: 53D Hàng Bài St.

Booking hotline: 1900 6044

Comment: Favourite food from the central region in modern decor

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