Hanoi Hannah

180 High St
Windsor, VIC 3181
I used to never have an issue with restaurants that didn’t take bookings. Because I hate feeling bloated when I go to bed, I tend to have dinner at around 6pm, if not even earlier. Luckily Chris is the same, so we neatly circumvented the need of waiting for a table, even at the most popular of restaurants. But now that we both work full time, we usually can’t make it to dinner before 6:30, and all of a sudden bookings became a very glorious thing. 
Unfortunately Hanoi Hannah does not take bookings, and it took three whole attempts before we made it there at a reasonable hour. Luckily we still have numbers on our side, and the two of us got a table after a short 10 minute wait, unlike the poor groups of 3-4 that had to wait up to an hour. Unlike what you’d normally expect of a Vietnamese restaurant, Hanoi Hannah is actually flawlessly fashionable, its vibe an enviable mix of Melbourne haunt and Vietnamese street. 
Char-Grilled Chicken Rice Paper Rolls ($6.5, 2pcs)
Char-Grilled Chicken Rice Paper Rolls ($6.5, 2pcs)
Have I ever mentioned how sick I am of the disgusting rice paper rolls sold near my work for an appalling $3.5 each? Hanoi Hannah eased the hurt with a pair of Char-Grilled Chicken Rice Paper Rolls($6.5, 2pcs), a mix of fresh herbs and savoury chicken in an elastic robe of rice paper. It was a lovely palate cleanser between the richer snacks that we had ordered.  
Pork Belly Sliders ($9, 2pcs)
Speaking of richer, you can’t get much more so than the Pork Belly Sliders ($9, 2pcs). Though simple, the combination of crisp, fatty pork belly between fluffy brioche buns was a decadent treat, its flavour boosted with the addition of crunchy pickled carrot and a smear of creamy sriracha mayo. Think of a bee, these are its knees. 
Bolalot Crispy Betel Leaf Cigars ($9, 3pcs)
I’ve always thought that the Vietnamese had a knack for grilled meats, so I couldn’t go without ordering the Bolalot Crispy Betel Leaf Cigars ($9, 3pcs) from their grilled section. These little nibbles on skewers were incredibly moreish, the crispy exterior giving way to a smoky mouthful of beef mince, its flavour brought out by the sweet dipping sauce. 
Hanoi-Styled Spring Rolls ($9, 4pcs)
Though I don’t usually give spring rolls a second thought, I’m actually a sucker for the Vietnamese type, especially Hanoi-Styled Spring Rolls ($9, 4pcs). Biting through a cloak of cool lettuce leaf, the brittle rice paper, blistered gold by the fryer, makes an astonishing contrast. The filling is a substantial mixture of chicken mince and vegetables, allowed to shine against the effervescence of the wrapping. It’s a shame that the dipping sauce, so great with the betel leaf wrapped beef, is a little too light to make an impression in this case.
Despite having gone into Hanoi Hannah expecting to drop a minor fortune on nibbles, the meal actually came to a surprisingly reasonable amount. I’d even be tempted to say a bargain, given that we were essentially dining in an incredibly popular tapas bar, in the heart of Prahran no less. Whilst there isn’t anything here that you wouldn’t see in a good Vietnamese restaurant for possibly cheaper and possibly better, this is definitely a more enjoyable experience. I love the selection of vibrant street snacks on offer, as well as more traditional offerings such as pho and salads. It’s a good place to escape for an hour or two on a cold Friday night.
Rating: 14/20 – sex, drugs, and rice paper rolls.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit. 

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