The road trip has reached Glasgow and we are meeting our friends Ophelia, Janice, Marley & Alska for dinner at the Hanoi Bike Shop. The Hanoi Bike Shop is a Vietnamese restaurant with a great reputation that has attracted many celebrities including Beyoncé. If it’s good enough for her then it will almost certainly be good enough for Janice!
Sitting outside on yet another hot day and all but Marley (too young) are keen to try some Vietnamese and Glaswegian beers. A selection of Jaw Brew Drop IPA, Saigon Export lager and Jaw Brew Surf pale ale soon arrive. The Saigon lager is genuinely Vietnamese and brewed in Ho Chi Minh. Golden, frothy, the notes of rice and lemon will clearly work well with Asian food. Jaw Brew is a Glaswegian brewery. Drop is an IPA with notes of grapefruit that will cut through the spice and Surf is a pale ale with apple and pine that should work well with fried or barbecued dishes. Of the three, Drop is probably our favourite. Hot day, cold beer, food to come – all is good.
Prawn crackers while we wait for the dishes – each dish will arrive as and when it has been freshly cooked. The first dish to arrive is the chicken Bun Cha – marinated chicken, char-grilled and served on skewers with vermicelli noodles, a fresh herb salad and a hot & sour broth. Fabulous. Next the Cha Ca Quy Nhon chosen by Ophelia – Vietnamese fish cakes served with gem lettuce, pickles, vermicelli noodles and nuoc cham ( lime, fish sauce, garlic, sugar & chilli). Wow!
More beer and now Ba Roi Ram Duong – caramelised pork belly and pan fried sea bream served with cucumber kimchi, watercress and chilli. Extraordinary – I think I may have been transported temporarily to food heaven. At the other extreme Janice, who is always up for trying something new, has ordered some Kimchi – a side dish made from fermented vegetables. By itself it tastes pretty awful but I’m sure it will work as a flavour enhancer for other dishes.
Next to arrive is the Banh Cu Cai Dau Nanh – daikon & soya bean cakes served with crispy shallots, birds eye chilli and syboes (Scots word for spring onions). Rock loves them. Then, for Alska and Marley, are the Cha Lua pork & lemongrass kebabs skewered on roast sugarcane which comes with fresh herbs and blistered chilli sauce. Another winner.
Rock has selected Ca Mop Ot – Hake flavoured with tamarind and fermented chilli and served with a beansprout salad and a mango sambal. She has now joined me in food heaven. Janice has made a much wiser choice than the kimchi with Vit Ma Ong (see featured image) – crispy salt & honey duck leg served with pickled red cabbage and syboe oil. More beer and then finally, for Alska & Marley, Bap Gnot Va Dua Banh Ran – huge sweetcorn & coconut fritters with gem lettuce, pickles and nuoc cham.
We ordered less than the recommended number of dishes and, even with Janice’s enormous appetite, we could not eat it all. An extraordinary amount of food, a massive variety of flavour combinations, fabulous quality of cooking and a more than modest amount of beer. We all loved it!