If Chops were a man, I’d be in love with him.
We’d lock eyes across busy Quang An street, me on my way to work or out, and he just sitting there, watching the world pass by.
I would be irresistibly attracted to his scrubbed wooden tables and open simplicity. He would lure me in for good with his strong, hoppy IPA (from Saigon’s Pasteur Street Brewery), a rarity among Asian beers and worth every one of its VND95,000.
At first sight of his menu, I would fall hard. “Stay here a while,” he'd whisper in my ear. “I’ll make you breakfast.” As long as breakfast is served after noon and consists of burgers and wings and milkshakes and beer, of course. But I don’t care; I’m too deep in the thrill of infatuation, the heart-stopping flusters that mark the start of every new relationship.
He has his flaws, certainly; an odd tattoo (a burger eating another burger? So meta), a strange obsession with meat cleavers (I get that you like butchery, but must you decorate your space with knives, darling?), and he likes young people in black and white a little too much, as they are continually running about the place (is it some sort of fetish? I can forgive almost anything for you), although they never seem to be around when you need them. In spite of his good taste in music (who doesn’t like classic rock?), he also tends to play his Beatles albums a bit too often.
Love at First Bite
But what keeps me by his side is his juicy, tender meat. It really was love at first bite. On our first night together, I had the Chops burger (VND120,000), which was perfectly cooked and relatively simple, relying on the quality of its ingredients to carry the flavours (and carry them they did). The buttermilk bingo chicken wings (VND130,000) were also fantastic; breaded and fried, deliciously crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. As much as I wanted real buffalo sauce, I had to admit the Chops chilli sauce was tasty and did almost as well.
The truffle mayo that comes with the thick-cut triple-cooked fries (VND60,000) alone is worthy of writing home about. Add to that the rocky road dessert (VND90,000), a delectable mixture of merengue, ice cream, toasted marshmallow, and sliced toasted almonds, and I would definitely be proud to introduce Chops to my parents. I’m sure they’d love him almost as much as I do.
No boring monogamous relationship is this, however. “Bring your friends,” he suggests, and I comply, finishing in the most satisfying orgy of meats and sauces I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. The best part is that he doesn’t get jealous. If ever I want to see a bia hoi or a little café instead, he doesn’t complain, welcoming me back with open arms no matter where I’ve been. As much fun as he is, though, I’m not sure I can afford to keep him; of the two of us, I’m definitely the breadwinner. In fact, he hasn’t paid for dinner once.
Sometimes I wonder how he feels about us. Am I as special to him as he is to me, or am I just another of the many patrons who also seem to love him? I’d ask, but my mouth is too full.
I’m not sure what this means for the long term. If Chops were a man, there could be a real future for us, but it’s too early to tell. For now, I’m just taking it slow and savouring our time together.
Chops is located at 4 Quang An, Tay Ho, Hanoi
Food, Decor and Service are each rated on a scale of 0 to 15.
13 — 15 extraordinary to perfection
10 — 12.5 very good to excellent
8 — 9.5 good to very good
5 — 7.5 fair to good
0 — 4.5 poor to fair
The Word reviews anonymously and pays for all meals