Hanoi – A Vietnamese Restaurant in Dubai

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Cha Nem Thit - deep fried spring rolls
“Cha Nem Thit” – deep fried spring rolls (we call these “Cha Gio” in South Vietnam)

About a month after I returned from my Vietnam trip, my cravings for Vietnamese food finally started to subside. I stopped dreaming about having silky-smooth rice noodles twirled around beef meatballs in a clear clean broth for breakfast.

No longer hankered for the taste of tangy-spicy-garlicky flavors of Nem (a type of pork charcuterie).

Out if sight and out of mind were thoughts of the corner Banh Mi carts selling French baguettes (with a golden thin crust and the lightest of crumbs more reminiscent of a croissant than a baguette) filled with pâté and assorted pork cuts, laced with pickled daikon and carrots, smeared with a mayo-like sauce, and freshened up with slices of cucumber and sprigs of cilantro. It beyond satiates the omnivore in me.

Mmmm….Baaaaanh miiiii. I think my Homer Simpson voice is coming out again.

Wait, where was I going with this? Because I’m suddenly feeling certain cravings again…

Right. Cravings. Gone away. And then–

And then fellow Dubai Fooderati, Neelu of Creating Memories posted “craving for some Vietnamese food.. anyone know any good restaurant in Dubai? Not over the top price wise.” 

And that did it. Released the cravings monster that I had pushed down into a cage and tried to forget. And this monster could only be tamed by being fed Vietnamese food. But not expensive frou-frou food from the likes of the Shangri-La or Jumeirah’s Zabeel Saray – two high-end hotels in Dubai that serve over-priced Vietnamese food good only for special splurges.

My monster wanted down-to-earth Viet food not overly styled nor garnished nor hyped – just like on the humble streets of Vietnam.

Enter Hanoi. An affordable Vietnamese restaurant that has two branches in Abu Dhabi and just recently opened its doors in Sector C of Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT).

Hanoi restaurant - Dubai
Hanoi restaurant – Dubai

Climbing down the stairs from the podium level of JLT to reach the restaurant, I caught a glimpse of the kitchen staff through the glass windows. Could they actually be…Vietnamese? Looked promising.

With large windows lining the front and one side of the restaurant, the atmosphere inside was very bright and airy for a lunch time get-together. We were a table of eight and were lucky to order before a larger table of 15+ arrived.

Hanoi Restaurant Dubai - Interior
Hanoi Restaurant Dubai – Interior

Large portraits of Vietnamese women and rurual scenes lined the walls. A fake banana plant, papaya tree and other faux plants served as low-maintenance indoor greenery that seemed quite commonplace in Vietnamese restaurants that I’ve visited.

Hanoi condiments
Hanoi condiments – with the ubiquitous Vietnamese fish sauce (far right)

With eight monster appetites to satisfy, we ordered more food than there was room on the table. But being the resourceful types, we made use of vacant chairs as well as commandeered an extra table just for the overflow food.

The staff had to manage two large groups (one of them ours and the other had 15+ diners) but remained friendly throughout and tried to be as helpful as they could but due to language barriers, some of our questions about the menu were left unanswerable.

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Here are some of the dishes we ordered…

Goi Cuon” – fresh summer rolls:

Goi Cuon - fresh summer rolls
Goi Cuon – fresh summer rolls

“Goi Du Du” – green papaya salad with fried anchovies (the 2nd time I ordered this dish, I was disappointed that it was not topped with the anchovies):

Goi Du Du - green papaya salad with fried anchovy
Goi Du Du – green papaya salad with fried anchovies

“Pho Dac Biet” – Hanoi special pho (contained tripe, beef balls and brisket) was? a little bland but still enjoyable and I loved the meatballs:

Pho Dac Biet - Hanoi special pho
Pho Dac Biet – Hanoi special pho

“Ga Cari” – this Vietnamese chicken stew tasted so different from the one that my family prepares that I wasn’t sure what to make of it. It seemed very buttery (instead of coconutty), lacked the addition of tomato sauce, and the spices just didn’t seem right. Perhaps this is one of those dishes that has regional differences and the northern flavors of Hanoi take some getting used to:

Ga Cari - Vietnamese chicken stew
Ga Cari – Vietnamese chicken stew

“Ca Ran Xot Me” – crispy fried whole fish with spicy tamarind sauce served with steamed rice (we tried to find out what kind of fish this was but to no avail):

Ca Ran Xot Me
Ca Ran Xot Me – crispy fried whole fish

“Banh Xeo” – these savory crepes were not one of the restaurant’s better offerings (again, I’m not sure if it’s partly because I’m used to Saigon-style):

Banh Xeo
Banh Xeo

“Caphe Sua Da” – iced Vietnamese coffee:

Caphe Sua Da - ice coffee
Caphe Sua Da – iced Vietnamese coffee

Artichoke Tea:

Artichoke Tea
Artichoke Tea

“Che Ba Mau” – 3-colored dessert:

Che Ba Mau - 3-colored dessert
Che Ba Mau – 3-colored dessert

“Chuoi Ran Kem” – banana fritters with ice cream:

Chuoi Ran Kem - banana fritters and ice cream
Chuoi Ran Kem – banana fritters and ice cream

These dishes above were only half of what we ordered! If you would like to view the rest of the photos, please click here for the Hanoi album on my Facebook page.

It would not be fair to compare the food served at Hanoi to what I ate in Vietnam. In speaking with the servers, it seemed that many of the ingredients (including some of the rice noodles) are imported directly from Vietnam as they cannot be obtained here in Dubai. But substitutions have to be made for those items that do not travel well – like fresh herbs, freshly-made Vietnamese style baguettes – and of course for those dishes that are traditionally made with pork or pork fat.

Plus, my taste buds are more accustomed to southern Vietnamese food, so I felt that many of the dishes were close…but no cigar. It would be interesting to read a review of the restaurant from someone who is familiar with northern cuisine.

Overall, I would say that the food at Hanoi was enjoyable (I’ve been back already!) and as authentic as you can get in Dubai for inexpensive Vietnamese food. Portions were generous and most dishes can be shared by two people, bringing the bill to under 100 dhs per person.

The only thing missing for me was Banh Mi. But the Banh Mi (which simply translates to “bread”) that everyone knows and loves originated from Saigon so we probably won’t be seeing that anytime soon in Hanoi restaurant (but prove me wrong!).

Foodiva was there as well to partake in this lunch feast and you can read her review by .

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Hanoi Restaurant (Dubai): located on the ground floor of the Gold Crest Executive tower (Sector C of JLT by the Dubai Marina Mall metro stop);  Phone: +971 050 5703359;  Unlicensed (no pork nor alcohol);  their Facebook page is here.  Currently only delivering within JLT.


There are two other branches in Abu Dhabi – for location information, please visit their website.

More photos of the restaurant are on our Ginger and Scotch Facebook page.

View from the restaurant
View of JLT from the restaurant


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  1. Yes ! simple concept but amazing, having nature concept and healthy food as well…. i found this restaurannt in Khalifa St Abu Dhabi and I love the duck breast and Beef Menu’s… next time planning to try the che ba mau!!! keep it up and good luck!

  2. Thank you Thank you Thank you for posting this. I just googled Vietnamese food in Dubai and yours was the first link I click on and I’m glad I did. With my ‘cravings monster’ on the fringes of being let loose, I learnt to make Vietnamese food – from scratch, but I have yet to figure out how they make the deepfried spring rolls, little rolls of flavorsome meat, rolled in vermicelli like noodles and deepfried…..mmmm.. Although I didn’t really enjoy Hanoi (in Vietnam, I prefer HCM City), I’m sure I’ll enjoy Hanoi at the JLT.


  3. tks so much for the post. I’m kinda of missing vietnamese food, esp Northern taste. So glad can find it in JLT!!

  4. Had been craving for Banh Xeo since the time I read your post on Vitenam – glad that they are available here. And the Che Ba Mau – looks delicious… reading your last post I had been so sad, that this post unleashes a bit of life.

    All credit goes to you for taking us all the way to Vietnam through your incredible posts

  5. Hey! You should go on YaDig and write your reviews on the places you’ve eaten at in the UAE. You could win 35,000AED+ in prizes this Ramadan for reviewing businesses on YaDig! Local service companies, spas, gyms, hotels, night clubs, coffee shops and more!! It’s pretty cool you should check it out and let all your friends know too! http://www.yadig.com/competition.aspx

  6. Wow everything looks delicious and amazing! I love Vietnamese food! Those spring rolls (and summer rolls :)) look so awesome!

  7. The first picture of the spring rolls totally sucked me in. And I’m totally intrigued by the artichoke tea.

    1. I actually didn’t get a chance to drink the artichoke tea but the person who ordered it seemed to like it. Will have to try it next time I am there.

  8. I love reading your reviews, it feels so honest and the photographs make you crave for the food! I have never tried Vietnamese food, and now I’m sure I’m missing out on something wonderful. I should probably start my experience with Hanoi. Oh, and I had fun trying to pronounce the names too 🙂

    1. Thank you Nadia. Wish you could have joined us for the Fooderati lunch in this post. But you can always hit me up when you want to go to Hanoi 🙂