Covering all bases, Panam’ describes itself on the one hand as a “creperie & salon de thé”, and also as a French restaurant, lounge and café.
Opening its doors earlier this year, the restaurant has a clean black and white facade and an understated sign. Once inside, the décor is a mish-mash of styles, with clear plastic and other modern chairs mixed with colourful sofas and wooden antiques. In the front room guests are greeted with a hanging thread curtain, like a beaded curtain but without any beads, which seems odd. Behind a courtyard with high tables is a bar with dark wood in neat patterns on the ceiling, and pillows with natural images, like leaves or pineapples, on them. The menu is pretty, printed in a variety of fonts on brown paper, and the tables are plain wood, each one with a sprig of dainty flowers.
I arrived with a friend and we quickly chose a spot in the back near the bar, which seemed more welcoming than the eclectic front rooms, and settled in with high expectations.
Full of Crepe
The menu features mostly crêpes, although it also has salads, croque monsieur and paninis on offer. Savoury crêpes (also called galettes) come from the Brittany region of France, and are made with buckwheat flour, which makes them darker and more wholesome-tasting than the regular wheat ones.
The impressive list of galettes includes standard choices, like the galette complète (VND125,000), with egg, ham, and emmental cheese, or more unusual options, like the well-named ‘Pommenbert’ galette, with apples and camembert (VND150,000), or galettes with foie gras (VND235,000) or salmon (VND160,000).
I chose a galette complète Tomme (VND125,000), with egg, ham, and Tomme cheese from Moc Chau. The galette was delicious, salty and meaty and nicely browned on the outside, and came with a fresh side salad drizzled in a mustard vinaigrette that made me want to lick my bowl clean (it’s ok, Mum, I didn’t!).
Cider and Galette
To accompany the meal I sampled some Breton cider (VND75,000), which was fresh and fruity but not sweet, a perfect complement to the heavier flavours of the food. It was called ‘brut’, which is French for amazing, probably. They also have a sweeter cider, called ‘doux’, if that’s your preference.
Other drinks on offer include beer, wine, a selection of flavoured teas, fruit juices, coffees, cocktails, and alcohol-free mocktails.
After the galette and cider my lovely companion and I shared a crêpe with Nutella on it (VND65,000). The dessert crêpes are made from regular wheat flour, so they are lighter in both texture and taste, perfect vessels for an end-of-meal sugar injection. Aside from the simple options (chocolate, honey, jam and Nutella, all around VND60,000 to VND65,000) they also have more exciting ones (banana split, Suzette, snickers, homemade salted butter caramel, chocolate with mint ice cream, etc.), all sure to satisfy any sweet-tooth cravings from your inner five-year-old.
The waiting staff were friendly and welcoming throughout, and although they did rush around a bit unnecessarily considering it was a slow night, everything arrived promptly. It’s nice when the staff are as serious about getting my dinner to me as I am.
Overall, I was blown away by the food at Panam’. For a little taste of Europe, you couldn’t do better.
Panam’ is located at 26 Truong Han Sieu, 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