Tay Ho: The 5 Best Restaurants For Every Taste

Hanoi’s cultural heart might rest on the Old Quarter but the city’s contemporary pulse lies in the area around West Lake (or ‘Ho Tay’ in Vietnamese) - the city’s new food and multi-culture quarter.

Visitors looking to capture the zeitgeist of the old city should venture to the Tay Ho area where a high percentage of international eateries are found. Here are some suggestions of the best restaurants in the area.

Cugini - Ristorante Italiano

Hanoi’s sizable international diaspora has given rise to a couple of excellent restaurants. Rotating menus served at Cugini ensures that there is something new to try every time you pay a visit. Remember to order roasted lamb - the dish is just about everyone’s favorite. The lamb here is tender and soft on the inside but the outside still has the ideal amount of crisp to the crust.

Photo : metrip.vn

Many visitors recommend the tuna tartare, which distinguishes from the crowd. The fish is meshed with the sourness of caper whose amount is carefully calculated to prevent the sour bud from overpowering the taste of tuna.

Panna cotta is arguably among the greatest Italian desserts and while at Cugini, travellers should not miss the chance to try the restaurant's signature panna cotta with condensed wine and cinnamon. Of course, desserts from cream and milk are popular in many cultures but as with many other recipes from Italy, all is not what it seems.

Cugini’s quality is high and the menu is long. And if you are in the mood, check out the wine list, you may find some excellent bottles here. Friendly staff, good food, and cozy atmosphere help explain its enduring popularity among locals and expats.

State-Run Food Shop #37

The postwar subsidy era was a time of dire hardship, not something those living through it want to come round again in their lifetime. But oddly enough, State-Run Food Shop #37 is a living proof that just about anything can be trendy again, like Communist propaganda posters and vintage TV sets you see in the interior of the eatery.

Photo : Cnn.com

The dishes featured on the restaurant’s menu are all what were on the table of a typical Vietnamese family, reminding middle-aged Vietnamese diners of their mothers’ cooking.

There is nothing fancy about its food, but perhaps it’s the creativity people showed in the face of scarcity that makes the food hailing from the era so special. ‘Com chay bo cay’ is a must-try. It’s basically crunchy scorched rice - the crust glued to the bottom of a rice pot, dipped in hearty beef soup utilized as dipping sauce.

Home Hanoi Restaurant

The French left Vietnam long ago but the impact they made has firmly embedded in the country’s culture and arts, especially architecture. Hanoi hosts a plethora of French-style villas and one of them houses Home Hanoi Restaurant.

Photo : foody.vn

The look of the restaurant might seem like a throwback but the chefs keep everything fresh by offering a twist on regional cuisines. The menu is extensive but it’s hard to order wrong here.

Aummee Vegetarian Restaurant

Vegetarianism is commonplace in this country and the reason has little to do with climate or health concerns. While vegetarian dishes are usually associated with a casual dining experience, Vietnam has no shortage of excellent designated vegetarian restaurants, to which Aummee can attest. Aummee is one of Hanoi’s more sophisticated establishments for vegetarians. Wooden furniture, Budha statues, and an indoor pond make up the decor, creating a cosy and calm atmosphere.

Order the kaleidoscopic ‘Galaxy’ salad while deciding which mains to share. Classics, like the legendary fried spring rolls and Hanoi-beloved lotus leaf wrapped rice, are must-try dishes.

Photo by Facebook /nhahangaummee

Speaking of lotus leaf wrapped rice, this dish was once reserved for the elite and affluent citizens of the city for its sophistication and the meticulousness in selecting ingredients. While the original recipe calls for chicken and spawn, Aummee’s take on it only features lotus seeds and brown rice. The steamed lotus leaf stuffed with rice smells tempting from the moment you unwrap one and the sweet aromas grab you by the nose and engulf your face in it.

Or if you want to dip your toe into Asian shared dining experience by trying one of its embodiments - lau (hotpot), Aummee offers a decent selection of vegetarian hotpots. For those who don't know, hotpot follows the one-dish concept where vegetables and meat, in Aummee’s case the meat is removed from the equation, are swiftly poached in piping-hot soup stock.

Pacifica

If convenience and international tastes are what you are after, you can never go wrong with Pacifica - one of the best hotel restaurants in the Tay Ho area.

Photo : zingnews.vn

Choosing a restaurant like this is a safe bet for those who are not adventurous eaters or travelers who are currently not in the mood to explore. There is nothing out of the ordinary or unfamiliar here, eaters are greeted by well-trained staff with smiles on their faces and a caring and attentive attitude.

Pacifica also features rotating menus offering something new each day. The restaurant itself is as diverse and global as the travellers it serves.

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