Ask any Melbourner where to go for quality Vietnamese food and the answer will more often than not be Hanoi Hannah. Since opening in Windsor in 2012 and Elsternwick in 2016, the restaurants have upped the ante on Melbourne’s Vietnamese offerings. As of this month, the team (who is also responsible for blessing us with Tokyo Tina, BKK and Neptune) is once again doing good things for the people of Melbourne when the doors to Hanoi Hannah New Quarter opened in Richmond.
For many new restaurants, the prospect of moving into Swan Street is incredibly daunting. But not for Hanoi Hannah. Tried, tested and proven as one of Melbourne’s favourite Vietnamese haunts, the move to this busy Richmond street was a no-brainer.
However, New Quarter is far from a replica of its older sibling. The 110-seater venue has stepped it up a notch on the food, service and space, taking on less of a rustic look. But that’s not to say that it lacks the groove that made the Windsor restaurant a name among locals.
“The music’s still loud, it’s still hip-hop, it’s a bit more mature but it’s still got the Hanoi Hannah vibe,” says co-owner, Simon Blancher.
When it came to the menu, Executive Chef, Anthony Choi (Circa, Cumulus, Tokyo Tina), Head Chef, Mathew John (Momofuku Daisho, Hell of the North), and Simon took a trip to the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi – because how better to write a Vietnamese menu that eating at the source?
Their travels form the foundation of much of the menu, with dishes like the Pho Cuon replicated as closely as possible. The dish wraps lemongrass beef, fresh herbs and pickled carrots in thin rice sheets to create a gelatinous and bouncy exterior, with a crunchy inside.
New Quarter’s menu combines the best of what the boys came across on their travels and translates it to the Melbourne palate.
“The produce we have in Melbourne is from a completely different climate. I’m not Vietnamese and neither are my business partners – we’re not bound by tradition, but we’re using those flavours and moulding it towards what Melbourne wants,” says Simon.
There’s no shortage of goodies inspired by the streets of Hanoi – we’re talking barbequed chicken basted in young coconut juice (sticky and crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside), smokey glass noodles with chicken and apple eggplant, and fried fish wings doused in chilli jam.
Not to mention, the cocktails are flying. Because really, it wouldn’t be a trip to Hanoi Hannah without a Bloody Mary garnished with spring rolls, now would it?
Hanoi Hannah New Quarter is open for business, with its takeaway arm set to open next week.