The rain poured down so hard that I almost slipped off the footpath – I needed something hot, and fast.
Hanoi Hanoi on Dublin’s Capel Street is one of the latest Vietnamese restaurants to crop up in the city and being one who’s obsessed with noodle soup, I had to give it a lash.
Unassuming on the outside, the establishment boasts a rather large interior with plenty of space to accommodate diners (though it may take you a few seconds to recover from its choice of décor).
First up was the nem rán (or spring rolls), and there’s not a single thing that I could find wrong with them.
With a crispiness that crumbled, and flavoursome filling that meshed so beautifully with the dipping sauce, it was the perfect start to my meal.
Onto the phở gà: Though the soup had the base for a perfect broth, I was left disappointed with the slightly overcooked chicken and fatty bits that I found. There were other places that definitely did it better.
That being said, the curiously extensive menu, excellent pricing (I spent just €11) and the polite, attentive service makes me want to give this place another bash.
I’ll be back.
Come again? Bring your friends! There’s plenty of room.
There are many types of spring rolls in Vietnam, but the ones I’ve always adored are “Nem Ran”, which are the most popular rolls in the north.
Though they can take some time to put together, the end result is a really crispy roll that’s jam-packed full of goodies.
If you’re not sure where to head to buy supplies, you can find the ingredients in most Asian food stores – I know that recently Tesco have been stocking wood ear mushrooms and they have white crab meat too.
Here’s my recipe for homemade spring rolls and their traditional dipping sauce Nuoc Cham – good luck!
Makes about 14/15 depending on the size of your rice papers (I tend to use medium/small wrappers)
Spring roll ingredients:
- 200g white crab meat
- 250g pork mince
- 2 fresh spring onions
- 150g vermicelli noodles (soaked until soft in hot water)
- Handful wood ear mushrooms (soaked for 15 minutes until re-hydrated)
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- A packet of circular rice papers
- Oil (for frying)
- White pepper
Dipping sauce ingredients:
- 3 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tbsp white sugar
- ½ cup water
- 2 ½ tbsp fish sauce
- 2 ½ tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
- Optional: chilies
- Combine the pork, crab meat, wood ear mushrooms and spring onions in a bowl.
- Drain your noodles well and then chop them finely.
- Add your noodles into the bowl with the meat mix and season with fish sauce, salt, white pepper and stir.
- For the next part I usually use 2 large plates, (one with the lukewarm water and one for placing the finished rolls on) and a chopping board, with paper towel on the side to soak up excess water.
- Soften your rice papers in the water for about 30 seconds and place on the chopping board (if you leave them in any longer they tend to tear apart and it’s hard to seal them).
- Place a small spoonful of the mixture in the middle of the wrapper and wrap the rounded edge on the bottom, up over the mix.
- Then fold the both sides inwards over the mix edges and roll up into a cylinder. Place the roll onto a plate and continue stacking them on top of each other.
- In a large frying pan heat enough oil so that it’s about 1cm in height on a medium heat (wait until it starts to sizzle).
- Fry the spring rolls for about 10 minutes or until golden brown and crisp, but place them apart so they don’t stick (be careful with the oil, I usually place a splash gauze over the pan).
- Drain the rolls on a paper towel and serve with dipping sauce.
Dipping sauce method:
- Place the fish sauce, vinegar, sugar and water in a small dish and stir to dissolve the sugar.
- Add garlic and lime juice, and stir to combine (add chilies if you so wish).
- Enjoy with your crispy rolls!
(Images and recipes copyright of Úna-Minh Kavanagh)