Lots of seafood, zesty fruit flavours and some unusual sauces have popped up on our favourite modern Vietnamese menu this summer.
Developed by executive chef Nathan Houpapa alongside Cuong Nguyen, the restaurant’s new head chef, Cafe Hanoi’s summer menu is a blend of modern and traditional Vietnamese dishes and features new entrees, main courses and salads. Each dish is designed to be eaten in warmer weather and to pair well with Hanoi year-round classics, like Shaking Beef and Crispy Fish rice paper roll.
Seafood highlights of the new menu items include Queensland tiger prawns with shallots and spring onions, served in a green chilli, kaffir lime and coconut sauce; crispy soft-shell crab w a green papaya, cucumber and palm heart salad, and our favourite Cloudy Bay diamond shell clams dished up with lemongrass, tamarind and chilli.
Vegetarians are abundantly catered for, with new dishes including twice-cooked tofu stuffed with shiitake mushrooms and served with Imperial tomato sauce, an asparagus and cauliflower stir fry with oyster sauce, rice paper rolls stuffed with crispy kumara, cucumber, pickled cabbage and fresh herbs with peanut sauce, and to round out the options, chilled eggplant salad with fish sauce, lime, mint and crispy shallots.
“My love for Vietnamese flavours has been renewed since my latest trip to Ho Chi Minh,” says Nate. “I ate a lot of fresh soft-shell crab while there, and asparagus, which is widely used in dishes and soups. I discovered a place called Oc Oanh, a seafood restaurant that is well off the tourist track, where all of the seafood was cooked on open charcoal grills on the side of the street. Our new prawn dish is inspired by a dish I had there.”
Left, Soft shell crab salad. Right, eggplant salad