When turning onto Hang Non, Gastro Food and Beer is the place to go for British cuisine that you won’t find anywhere else in Hanoi. A small door takes you into a dark and somewhat dingy-looking corridor that leads to a metal staircase — the kind you’d expect to find on a container ship. My friend hobbles up the stairs, determined to work off her recent motorbike accident.
Once inside we’re greeted by smiling staff and a neat looking room with nostalgic British-style décor — postcard-like murals of the classic double-decker bus and Big Ben are painted on the walls overlooking wooden tables decorated with flowers and little ornaments. At the back of the room is an open doorway to the bar, and stools looking out to the busy streets of the Old Quarter.
My friend and I decide to sit out the back, near the bar and overlooking the bustling streets outside. We take up two chairs — barstools with heavy cast iron frames — and ordered some locally brewed light ales served in proper curved pint glasses. The food menu is easy to read, arranged into clear categories, each with half a dozen options; starters and pub grub, proper mains, veggie and salads, proper sandwiches and so on. I can imagine the British Embassy was over the moon when they heard about it.
Feeling a little sentimental since leaving the UK six months ago, I settle on a plate full of fond memories; battered fish and chips, with mushy peas and tartar sauce, for a reasonable VND175,000. My friend orders the roasted beetroot salad, and crab spring rolls to share.
The crab spring rolls arrive first. At VND95,000 it’s a decent-sized portion with noodles and salad on the side accompanied by a flavoursome soy sauce-based dip. Next out is the beetroot salad (VND85,000), another generous portion, of fresh beetroot, croutons, salad and dressing. The salad is well presented and hits the spot for vegetarians and carnivores alike.
Saving the best to last, out comes the fish and chips. Served on a wooden slab, the freshwater fish is a local selection — cod being far too expensive to import into Vietnam. The fish is meaty, full of flavour and battered in a way that would make any English seafront restaurant a little jealous. The chips are fat and crispy and the mushy peas are thick, with a creamy texture.
A waitress was there on cue to check if we needed anything and we left with the clear impression that the whole staff of the restaurant are genuinely passionate about the service that they provide.
As a Brit with a palate for all things battered and gravy, I’m glad that there’s somewhere in Hanoi that cooks up British cuisine to a high standard and at reasonable prices.
Gastro: Food and Beer Pub is located at 20 Hang Non, Hoan Kiem, 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