by Hoàng Vân Anh
Ngoặm started out around a year ago, selling burgers online to raise funds for charity.
I first heard of them when attending a “slider” festival at Melting Pot Hanoi, where they presented three different mini burgers and won the “best slider” award. The patties were so fresh and flavourful we kept going back to their booth to buy more.
From Day 1, though Ngoặm’s owners never planned for it to be the serious endeavour it has since become, they have continually shown an inventiveness with their menu and flavour combinations.
Their attentiveness in sourcing ingredients has helped them gain a large number of cult followers on Instagram, with their burgers selling out at most “pop up” events. Their name actually means “Big bite” or "Ngoặm" in Vietnamese.
To serve more people and not just be known for being at “pop ups”, they opened an outlet at 19 Chân Cầm Street near Hoàn Kiếm Lake serving more than just burgers and sides.
JAPAN MEETS VIỆT NAM: Ngoặm’s famous JAV burger. Photo Instagram Ngoặm
We sat on the second floor on what was a beautiful day. Light streaming through the windows lit up the dining area. It was cosy and warm in the winter chill.
Every effort is made to include Vietnamese elements into their offerings. We ordered the squid and pumpkin wontons. The taste was divine. The squid, shrimp oil, and bonito flakes gave a nice savour to the soup. The pumpkin puree and wonton skin melted in your mouth. As a big dumpling fan, this was a hit. Without a meaty texture, the wontons were a delight.
A HIT: Ngoặm’s amazing squid and pumpkin wontons. VNS Photo Vân Anh
Then we ordered the JAV (Japan and Việt Nam) burger, the full-size version of the award-winning slider that first attracted me to Ngoặm.
From past experience, I know their classic Levine burger is excellent, but we decided on the JAV this time. The smell of charcoal on the patty, inspired by the ever-popular bún chả Hà Nội, really added a wonderfully smoky flavour. The burger incorporates Vietnamese fermented sticky rice and banana blossoms pickled in rice vinegar, with kumquat inspired by nộm, or sweet and sour salad, which is well-loved by all Hanoians.
The plates were yellow lacquer, the deep dish a red floral ceramic, and the napkin holder featured a Hà Nội street sign. Together they elevated the traditional Vietnamese characteristics in the surroundings.
The last dish we ordered, the Spanish-style grilled squid with romesco sauce, was based on the waiter’s recommendation, but we felt underwhelmed after the delights of our two other dishes. The squid was tiny, the flavour didn’t stand out, and the sauce was ordinary.
LAST UP: The Spanish-style grilled squid with romesco sauce. VNS Photo Vân Anh
Ngoặm’s two owners seem to have travelled extensively around the world and gotten to taste many different flavours while they were doing it. Maybe that’s the inspiration behind their fusion menu, where the names are full of bilingual puns.
Other dishes include a Vietnamese version of Bangers & Mash, using favourite grilled sausages and mashed cassava. Six burger varieties are also available, ranging from thick to thin patties. There’s even a zucchini BLT for the vegan community.
Drinks include creative kombucha flavours like butter and caramel and creative craft beers from local brewers.
It’s moving towards becoming a zero-waste restaurant, turning unused burger buns into bread crumbs and using leftover beef for staff meals of ragu pasta or phở.
The portions are quite small for the price. So, though it’s not the best value out there, the creative flavours absolutely make it somewhere worth trying. On the plus side, the small portions mean you can try more of their dishes.
The menu at Ngoặm changes seasonally, every two to three months, so grab the chance to try their food before Tết (Lunar New Year). Or just wait, and see what new flavours the two creative owners decide to experiment with in the spring. VNS
Ngoặm (burger and bistro)
19 Chân Cầm Street, Hoàn Kiếm District, Hà Nội
Lunch 10.30am - 1.30pm
Dinner 6pm - 9.30pm
Closed on Tuesdays
Hotline: 0922 229 898