Wednesday, July 15 2020


The taste of home without the hard work

Update: January, 06/2019 - 09:00
Classic dish: Crispy sweetened taro balls. — VNS Photo Mỹ Hà
Viet Nam News

For times when life gets a little too much, HomeTaste is a small restaurant offering homely cooking and a chance to press the pause button with friends. Nguyễn Mỹ Hà tries it out.

HomeTaste is a small restaurant on a street full of trendy spots serving high-end Vietnamese and Japanese food. Located in a small townhouse with little fanfare, it has found its niche in providing popular dishes at reasonable prices.

On a cold winter day, we set out to try out the new winter menu at HomeTaste on Mai Hắc Đế Street in Hà Nội.

My friend has already ordered appetizers. Khoai môn Lệ phố (VNĐ60,000) is a popular dish made of mashed taro with sweetened mung bean paste inside. The taro-mung bean balls are rolled in breadcrumbs and deep fried. These are available in many restaurants and the quality is usually good. It looks simple, but the balls take some skill. I’ve tried a couple of times to make them at home, but failed miserably. So I gave up and left it to the chefs.

Delicious: Smoked beef & young mustard greens salad. — VNS Photo Mỹ Hà
Plenty of choice: Ingredients for the Thai hotpot. — VNS Photo Mỹ Hà

Next we had Gỏi mầm cải bắp bò xông khói salad (VNĐ98,000). It was refreshing with shredded lettuce, baby mustard greens and thin slices of smoked beef. The marinade was sweet and sour, with a little spice, which helped cleanse the palate.

The third dish was sautéed vegetables with garlic, Rau mầm đá xào tỏi (VNĐ70,000). What’s special about this dish is the vegetables, looking like small trees, which are crispy. They are special vegetables sold only in the city’s big market during the right season. Another great option for this vegetable is to cut it into small chunks, boil them and dip them in soya sauce mixed with boiled eggs. This is an easy dish you can try at home and you can sip the water in which you boiled the vegetables.

Speaking of Vietnamese people drinking the liquid after boiling vegetables, many foreigners aren’t used to this custom.

In summer, we Vietnamese love to drink the water after boiling morning glory, then adding lime juice and a dash of salt, or putting dracontomelon fruit in the boil. You can pour the sour liquid on rice and have it just like that during hot summer days.

In winter, the vegetables will be cabbage with carrots, or su su (chayote) fruit, cauliflowers and broccoli and white radish.

A British man married to a Vietnamese wife embraced the custom of drinking boiled vegetable liquid, so once he boiled potatoes for a family gathering with his in-laws. He startled her parents and siblings by telling them that he had saved the liquid in which he had boiled the potatoes. No matter how much Vietnamese love the vegetable liquid, they throw away that used to boil potatoes, sweet or not.

For lunch, after three appetizers, we felt half full. But it’s the New Year, and it’s very cold, so we all decided to consult the restaurant’s featured hotpots: field crab hotpot tops the best selling list, Thai sour spicy hotpot is perfect for a winter’s day, and the most sophisticated fried port intestine hotpot would make any of the intestine delicacy fans come back for more. (HomeTaste has two sizes for the intestine hotpot VNĐ268,000 and VNĐ398,000).

We chose the Thai sour spicy hotpot (VNĐ368,000) to be safe. The pot is cooked on an induction hob, so no worry about any gas accidents. The seafood includes shrimp, baby squid with eggs, fish and mussels. The plate was full of food and overloaded with veggies. Two instant noodle packages were also included, but we did not like instant so we ordered a plate of fresh noodle vermicelli.

Of course we did not spend our lunch time talking just about food. We used our time together to share our daily chores and concerns, our reservations about sending children to extra curricular classes, and last but not least, our tips to deal with our in-laws or how to make our husbands share the housework or help children do their homework.

A taste of home was what we ended up finding. The food was as good as that we like to make for our family, but we can spare the hardship preparing it. This way we can enjoy it, at very affordable prices. We, a group of three, all returned to work VNĐ220,000 lighter, which is a few times higher than a bowl of phở. But the benefit it brings, helping let go of our stress and coming back armed with some useful tips, makes up for the money spent. Women, you should have at least one meal like this every month.

HomeTaste, see you next month. — VNS




Address: 101 Mai Hắc Đế, Hai Bà Trưng, Hà Nội

Tel: 024 3373 1999

Comment: Good food at affordable prices

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