Our objective on the night was to find somewhere suitable for a first date for Match.com, and the Hanoi Bike Shop fitted the bill, it’s small and intimate but fun and a bit different and there’s no WIFI to distract you!
We haven’t been to Vietnam so can’t confirm the authenticity of the place but Mr Foodie has been to China and it wouldn’t look out of place there – dimly lit with plastic plates and as many stools crammed in as possible! A little basket with condiments (Sriracha hot sauce and vinegar?) and toothpicks (definitely something you have more chance of finding in Asia!) was delivered to our table.
We were offered a bowl with 2 types of prawn cracker (£1.50) and with this our waiter recommended a peanut and chilli dip (£2). There were a few chopped chills on top but it wasn’t hot, it was a sticky sweet peanut sauce/dip, something which is common in hot-pot restaurants in north-eastern China.
The Hanoi bike shop sells 3 bottled beers from Vietnam, we ordered a Hanoi (£3.40) and a Hue (£3.70) to start. We don’t think we’d tried either before and both were pretty decent for Asian lagers. The Hue was a bit lighter and the Hanoi was a bit more gassy (burp!)
The menu recommends 2 – 3 dishes for sharing, and the food comes out when ready, again similar to how things are done in many restaurants in China.
First to arrive was… charcuterie platter (£4.95) with pickled lotus roots
The pork and mushroom pâté was interesting and did go really well with the Vietnamese sausage, which was the first time we’d ever come across this – new flavours to try, and they were delicious!
Then the coconut pancake (£6.50)…
A very light pancake, like a crepe filled with beansprouts, prawns and pork. It was fun trying to share this one as we ended up in a situation not dissimilar to the spaghetti scene in Lady and the Tramp!
This was followed by mustard greens (£3.50), tender mustard plant leaves with pockets of fresh chopped garlic and cooked in lots of garlic by the taste of it. Luckily we both enjoyed the strong garlic-breath inducing flavour so perhaps a kiss after dinner was still on?
Coconut Pork (£8.50), really tender pork coked wtih coconut and served with a runny egg. The sauce was delicious, it was creamy with a noticeable coconut taste and bits of broken pork swirling through it.
Lemongrass ice cream (£3.50)A very light tasting citrusy ice cream. A hint of lemongrass, good to cleanse the palate.
Orange and poppy seed cake (£5) Just like East European poppy seed cakes but with a dollup of coconut ice at the side to give it a twist. Full of flavour and moist.
Thirsty from washing down all the dishes we ordered one final beer between us, this time a Saigon beer (£3.40). Another decent lager.
We finished with condensed coffee (£4.50) served authentically (we believe) in a Vietnamese coffee filter (they sell these in SeeWoo if anyone wants to but one) sitting on a glass filled with condensed milk. Just give it a few minutes to let all the coffee seep through.
The coffee was very very sweet, strong and tasty. We were tempted to have more, if we knew we wouldn’t have a sugar coma after all the condensed milk.
Great service, cosy and intimate. The food was very tasty, well-seasoned and flavoursome. If you both like Asian food then the sharing plates are ideal for a first date if you’re looking for something a bit different.