37 Hitchcock Ave, Barwon Heads, VIC
03 4202 0525
A serendipitous visit to see family in Barwon Heads was the catalyst for Hong and Nick Lee to open Hanoi Kitchen, a Vietnamese eatery that introduces a whole new set of flavours to the Bellarine Peninsula.
Husband-and-wife team, Hong and Nick, met when they both worked at the Victoria Hoi An Resort. Hong had always dreamt of opening her own restaurant. As a teenager in Vietnam, she helped out at her family’s market food stall and then trained at Hanoi’s renowned French Hospitality Academy. After a decade working in luxury hotels in Vietnam, Hamilton Island and New Zealand, the couple were keen to put down permanent roots with their young family. While visiting Nick’s parents in Barwon Heads, they saw a restaurant business for sale and leapt at the chance, opening Hanoi Kitchen in November 2016.
They gave the heritage-listed cottage on the corner of Hitchcock Avenue and Bridge Road a Viet-inspired makeover, installing an open kitchen, a series of cosy dining areas and a street-facing garden, creating the perfect spot for people-watching on a fine day.
In creating the fresh and exciting menu, Hong has taken inspiration from her mother’s traditional home cooking and Hanoi’s market stalls, as well as her experience cooking at five- and six-star resorts. Diners are encouraged to order food to share so that they can taste a range of dishes. Pork and prawn rice paper rolls and spicy chicken wings are perfect for sharing, as are the salads and family sized dishes, like banana flower salad with duck, and caramelised pork belly. For return visitors, the regularly changing specials menu features more exotic dishes such as chargrilled five spice quail, while dessert continues the culinary theme, with lemongrass macarons or kaffir lime cheesecake.
In the quest to unite Australian ingredients and Vietnamese flavours, Hong and Nick source as many ingredients as possible from local producers and suppliers. The meat is from Benno’s Meating Place and the seafood from White Fisheries in Drysdale, while the coffee comes from Geelong’s Origin Specialty Coffee and tea arrives via Leaf Tea in Geelong. The wines have been chosen to complement the Vietnamese flavours and include unusual varietals like arneis and grüner veltliner, which pair wonderfully with spicy dishes.
Hanoi Kitchen fills the void of Vietnamese restaurants on the Bellarine Peninsula, offering both locals and holidaymakers the chance to indulge in fresh flavours every day of the week.