By Thúy Hằng
Over the past year, a common love for food and trying new restaurants has brought me closer than ever to my friends. This has not changed even though we are now living in different countries. Recently, three of us – one from South Korea, one from South America and one in Việt Nam – finally had a chance to gather in Hà Nội, and we knew a good meal was a must for this special occasion.
We decided to pick RICO Seafood & Grill because of our good experience with its sister restaurant, RICO Steakhouse, which is one of our favourite steak restaurants in Hà Nội.
Located on a small street known for its packed bia hơi restaurants, RICO is in a completely different world. Stepping through the entrance, you leave behind the loud shouts of một, hai, ba, dzô (one, two, three, cheers) from the drinkers outside.
The ambience is classy and cosy thanks to the trendy brown tones, from ceiling-to-floor curtains to thick leather chairs.
CLASSY: The ambience in RICO Seafood & Grill is cosy thanks to the trendy brown tones, from ceiling-to-floor curtains to thick leather chairs. Photo courtesy of RICO
Our dishes were decided by a health-conscious woman in the group who always keeps to an active lifestyle.
Our meal started with a European-style seafood platter including crab, tiger prawns, Nha Trang oysters, babylonia snails and French bulot sea snails for VNĐ799,000 (US$35). All the shellfish, which were arranged on a bed of ice, were exactly like the ones I had in Paris. They were very fresh as they still retain their original firm texture and fairly sweet taste.
FRESH AS CAN BE: The European-style seafood platter. VNS Photo Thúy Hằng
Our second dish – crab, shrimp and calamari aumoniere served with leek fondue and artichoke for VNĐ259,000 ($11) – in the shape of a small pouch, was another delectable treat. The flavours of all of the different types of seafood worked in harmony with a hint of dill and the frothy fondue.
Next, we were treated to quinoa seafood salad served with calamari, shrimp and avocado for VNĐ169,000 ($7). More than almost any other dish, salad needs the freshest ingredients to shine. These ingredients definitely did not disappoint, and the Mediterranean-style salad was healthy, delicious and perfect for a hot summer day.
Our reunion celebration continued with a delightful dish – scallop ceviche served with seaweed, asparagus and tobiko for VNĐ259,000 ($11). When the waiter placed the dish on our table and slowly removed the glass lid, a cloud of smoke was released, revealing the lovely looking food in the centre.
According to the waiter, the smoke was created by burning a kind of herb and helps to both enhance the flavour and create a dramatic visual effect.
Ceviche, from South America, is made from raw fish cured in citrus juice. As with salad, the freshness of the fish is key to the dish. At RICO, the natural sweetness of the fresh scallops was enhanced by the fresh lime juice, peppers, chopped spring onion and dill.
VIBRANT: Scallop ceviche served with seaweed, asparagus and tobiko. Photo courtesy of RICO
Our light meal got a bit heavier with the next offering, the marinated eel and blow torched salmon sushi roll served with spicy creamy sauce for VNĐ259,000 ($11). The dish is perfect – the creamy sesame sauce keeps the light, sweet eels moist and the sticky rice, salmon and avocado add a buttery taste to the roll.
When our last dish – mussels and clams served with chorizo and wasabi sauce for VNĐ299,000 ($13) – was presented, I was already quite full. But I tasted it anyway and I'm glad I didn't miss out. I enjoyed the slight smokiness from the chorizo and the heat of the wasabi sauce.
The restaurant was the perfect place to catch up with friends and bond over a great meal.
Along with seafood, the menu also features several meat dishes, from tomahawk Wagyu beef to lamb chops.
The restaurant offers a special two-course lunch menu for only VNĐ299,000 ($13) per person. The menu is available daily from 11:30am to 2pm. VNS