Hanoi Ca Phe is a Vietnamese restaurant in the 9th district of Paris, though we didn’t see anyone Vietnamese working there. It is a popular and busy place, and there weren’t many places to sit when we arrived. We ended up sitting indoors, near the open kitchen.
It is quite an interestingly decorated place, with a number of humorous nooks and crannies, and some curious lighting.
Upstairs the main area is a fairly straightforward bar and restaurant…
…though there are a few nods to Vietnam with bamboo furniture.
Downstairs, though, is completely mad. Paper streamers, masks on the wall, coloured lamps, booze locked in a cage, and a gauze covered red unisex toilet.
We shared a, er, sharing platter called the Emperor Wok Wok. It sat waiting to be delivered for a while, and was bigger than we expected. This had three types of spring roll – fried with prawns (fiancée enjoyed dipped in fish sauce, with the note it was rice flour pastry, rather than beancurd skin or wheat flour, so it was a little chewy); steamed with vegetables, egg and mango (I found these went well with the spicy mayo; one mouthful seemed to have all the coriander and mint in, which was weird!); and fried with quinoa, mushrooms and processed soft cheese (delicious, my favourite bit of the meal). It also came with six steamed buns and stuff to fill them with: four pots of beef satay (fiancée thought very good), chicken with ginger (her favourite), salad, and goat cheese and crushed wasabi peas (odd combination, but I liked the texture).
We also had a vegan pad Thai between us, which was pretty dull until we got hold of some chillies and soy sauce. We did agree the crushed peanuts added a bit of flavour and crunch.
Service was annoying, with lots of staff rushing around but only one person allowed to serve us; he was ok except when it came to serving the food – and settling the bill. I have never understood why waiters don’t get that bit done as soon as they can, to free up the table. Ah well. I probably won’t head back here, but I might steal the idea of the cheese spring rolls!
Address: 30 Boulevard des Italiens, 75009 Paris