KVT – Six Courses with Noi Hanoi

Posted on Thursday 7 Feb - 2013

KVT 2013Noi Hanoi-Food

KVT chews up words and spits out the pips

Just as well I went to my first Noi Hanoi on Tuesday night at the Hanoi Cooking Centre. I’ve been meaning to catch the authors and poets and wordsmiths ever since they started to put their words into the public arena…quite a while ago now…but something always got in the way of a jaunt to Tadioto or the Hanoi Social Club – or the other diverse arenas – where their words came out loud and clear to an audience of peers and interested listeners.

Just as well because the theme was food…which was why the HCC was place to be…and I was in the throes of wondering about just what would I cook for eight young visitors when they erupted onto my lavishly appointed floor mat for a pre-tet meal the next night, so my mind was open to any implied suggestions.

The Noi Hanoians presented two three course wordy meals spread out over the evening with an appreciated lull in between so that listeners could buy a glass of wine to sip during the next menu selection

The first dinner, spread on a snowy white cloth, consisted of an entrée of delectable tapas from all over the world that we were able to pick up with our fingers as they were offered on blank verse platters, showered in wistful sauces.

The main course was slice after slice of pizza from just about every pizza joint in the city, served out in  mozzarella-ed paragraphs and with infectious smiles by a slim, Vietnamese author who insisted on us all having our full share.

To finish there was a bowl of ripe and spuming grapes imported especially from a small vineyard in South America and plated up in amusing stanzas by a young man who had an aged and well traveled bottle of expensive French wine on standby in case the full moon, that was preparing to ride high overhead in almost Tet splendor, was really made of cheese.

It was just as well that the interval was prolonged otherwise the first course of things doused in fat and imported from a McDonald’s outlet in far off Queensland, Australia, and saucily thrust at us along with paper serviettes and indelible sentences on plastic trays by a youth that had been well misspent, would have been indigestible…but it came with just the right amount of salt to lick off greasy fingers to make it very, very more-ish.

The main course was corn on the cob and plantains from the island underneath Long Bien bridge, twirled into place by a bare torso-ed lothario – especially for very pretty girls – and with crispy word image side dishes.

The mainly youngish and marvelously attentive audience, sprinkled with a few in their salt and peppered middle years, and  leavened by the hard crust of creeping old age, allowed the words to slide easily down their gullets ready for a few capsules of  a wonder prescription that dispelled any immediate indigestion and leaving me wishing that there was a poet with a bottle of expensive cognac on standby ready to take over the mic and pour golden ambrosia into balloons that would float me up and out  into the warm night air.

And Noi Hanoi!

I think they are definitely worth following around the city to see what textual delights they come up with next. They have a casual and relaxed mode of presentation so you can roll up early and sip and chat – or arrive up to 30 minutes late and prepare to soak up the themed offerings.

And that pre –Tet dinner!

An entrée of clams wokked in a splash of white wine, served in an enormous white bowl and spread with grated lime and finely cut chili…with Hanoi Beer

A main of roast leg of pork, golden baked potatoes, and cloves of creamy, melting garlic; caramelized onion and roast tomato sauce; roast toasty egg plants; twice cooked duck (barbecued over coals and crisped in the oven with small mandarins broiled in the juices); lashings of fresh herbs; fresh yellow flowering mustard slightly wokked with shallots in olive oil…with a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon

Dessert? Fresh and cold du du, watermelon, mango, segments of grapefruit….with a chilled fruit punch slightly addled with vodka.

All of the above, from first paragraph to last alcoholic tidbit, plated with plump apologies due to my blousy flousy approach to writing..It all comes from a misplaced teenage infatuation with Dylan Thomas, Ferlinghetti and Tolstoy and not enough attention paid to Orton, E E Cummings, or Dostoyevsky.

PS: No, all you readers who have been schooled in funny spellings. My guests will not be indulging in the cannibalism of certain learned but growth stunted gents…though the word image is delicious!

Chuc Mung Nam Ran to all!

Kiem Van Tim is a keen observer of life in general and the Hanoi cultural scene in particular and offers some of these observations to the Grapevine. KVT insists that these observations and opinion pieces are not critical reviews. Please see our Comment Guidelines / Moderation Policy and add your thoughts in the comment field below.

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