Street food has the ability to take a type of cuisine and adapt it to the tastes and needs of the street. Sushi, for example.

 

Any foodie worth their stripes would probably turn their nose up at the concept of eating sushi on the side of the road in Hanoi.

 

That doesn’t stop Street Sushi from being full of customers as soon as it opens, every night of the week.

 

Word of the Street

 

With nightmares of poor hygiene and impending food poisoning flashing through our minds, we embarked on a mission to Hanoi’s renowned raw street food joint. What we found was surprising.

 

In the front of the restaurant sits a refrigerator full of raw fish, with three staff wearing plastic gloves putting together the Japanese delights on a seemingly clean worktop. Inside, a dozen wooden tables sit under a tarpaulin roof, each table bearing a teapot of soy sauce.

 

Operating in a conveyor belt fashion, the staff bring out orders about as quickly as you can read them off the menu, all the while a steady stream of customers waits outside to take theirs away to hungry mouths back home.

 

In the background, traffic whizzed past on Lieu Giai and Kim Ma Streets while we browsed through the 10-page menu, gawking at the prices. A feast that in a high-street sushi restaurant would set you back a day’s wages, in here will barely clear out the change you’ve been carrying in your back pocket.

 

The menu is extensive to say the least. There’s sushi, sashimi, maki, temaki, and a whole bunch of combos.

 

Sushi for the People

 

After stealing some glances at the tables around us we decided on sake sushi number one, VND27,000 for two pieces of salmon sushi.

 

What arrived was brilliantly unexpected. Of course it could never live up to a proper Japanese restaurant, using imported fish and prepared by a trained sushi master. But our sushi was delicious all the same. The fish tasted fresh, and good quality.

 

Sushi connoisseurs are quick to point out that the preparation of the rice is integral to making good sushi. That preparation obviously lacks in this case, yet it worked well none the less. On a scale of deli-counter sushi to a high-end sushi restaurant, Street Sushi scores way above the former, but probably wouldn’t impress a Japanese chef.

 

Next we got the tako karaage — deep-fried octopus. A plate of this stuff with salad covered in Thousand Island dressing costs just VND45,000, although it has to be said, it looked better on the menu than in real life. A mediocre dish at best, we scoffed this one down quickly and moved on.

 

The Fish are Alright

 

There’s a buzz eating at any street food joint — the traffic whizzing past, the hustle and bustle of the cooks while they shout orders back and forth to one another. Street Sushi is no different, and the mostly international crowd dining there during our visit were more than happy to chatter between tables and give recommendations.

 

Out of that we landed on our finale. The C3 Combo consists of tuna and salmon sashimi, four pieces of sushi with salmon, tuna, prawn and egg, and three tuna rolls. All of which cost an eye-catching VND123,000.

 

The sashimi kept up our impression of fresh and high-quality fish, although the tuna rolls were a little gooey. Overall, it’s damn good value for medium range sushi. We’d have happily paid twice the price in a restaurant for that quality.

 

Street Sushi provides a much better dinner than you’d expect. It’s ideal for groups, and for pickup and takeaway.

 

The service was a little shaky with regard to details — we had to go and get our own chopsticks from a box by the bar, and no one was really looking out to see if we wanted another drink — but all our food was on the table five minutes after ordering it.

 

Another bonus is that you can inspect the work station where your food is being prepared.

 

Street Sushi is located at 11 Nguyen Chi Thanh, Ba Dinh, Hanoi. It opens around 6pm and continues until around 10.30pm. We recommend going earlier as it gets busy.


 

PHOTOS BY MARCUS LACEY

 

Billy Gray

Billy arrived in Hanoi in November 2015 with the intention of staying for just six months. He didn’t expect that flights to leave would be so expensive, so decided instead to stay and write for the Word.

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