The name Hanoi Hannah originates from a person called Trinh Thi Ngo who was a Vietnamese radio personality during the Vietnam War. She made English-language propaganda broadcasts for North Vietnam directed at US troops. Having travelled from north to south Vietnam just recently, we can pinpoint exactly where these broadcasts were taking place as it was a stop on the Dalat Easyriders motorbike trip from the mid-country mountain region, all the way along the Ho Chi Minh Trail and into Saigon.
Occupying the building that previously housed Capital Records on High Street in Prahran, it is quite a surprise to find a place promising to serve authentic pho south of the river. The space is relatively small and even though it is pretty empty on our arrival, within a half an hour a line starts to form.
True to its SE Asia influences, there is some seating available on the street, while the majority of diners perch at the bar or a small handful of tables, the decor includes a beat up old bike out front, wooden crates on the walls filled with kitsch relics from home and abroad, Vietnamese street photography, and a smattering of plants and garden furniture. We especially liked the distressed wood ceiling – wallpaper or paint we couldn’t tell – but the deception and rustic aura it lent the place worked.
They are still trying to get a handle on service but things like this can be ironed out quickly once the service team get a bit more confidence. There’s a great choice of flavourful cocktails, on our first visit we decided to go down the non-alcoholic route and ordered the pineapple and lychee slushie mixed with coconut juice – a zesty and refreshing start to the meal. On our second we hit the authentic Vietnamese 333 beers.
The roast duck rice paper roll was fresh tasting but stuffed with too much noodle and other fillings that overshadowed the small portion of duck. We found the Miss Chu rolls more meaty but the price is about 30% dearer – so whatever floats your boat.
Speaking of which, drinks and food are surprisingly affordable and most dishes are under the $10 mark. Big up to ya!
The authentic Hanoi spring rolls went down a treat and as they are served fresh from the hot oil that they are fried in, fresh lettuce leaves are provided for you to wrap around the piping hot batter before dunking them into the sauce. Tasty and will be ordered again.
Hello. Did someone say pork belly slider? I never saw this during my travels and maybe this has been included to cater to the pork belly masses of Melbourne and the current slider phenomenon that is sweeping the city. But I cannot deny that the pork was cooked to perfection – crackling and all – and sandwiched between a small bun. A great couple of mouthfuls – but would possibly benefit from a small lashing of sauce to give it some moisture. Order this right as you arrive otherwise they run out quick. Our second visit we waited too long and were unable to get one to photograph.
BBQ chicken wings had a nice charcoal finish with moist meat underneath. I would have wanted more than just once each but concede we were not in a US diner.
As for the glass noodle salad with roast duck, the sweet, sour and hot balance mixed well in this cold dish.
On to pho – I am a lover of Victoria Street’s glorious bowls of noodles, stock and selection of protein. And Hanoi Hannah delivered on all fronts, plus it has loads of other great stuff on the menu, too.
For our beef fix we had the betel leaf-wrapped beef that had been chargrilled on skewers. The couple next to us talked us into it as they said it was so tasty but much lighter than they were expecting.
I am going to give the grilled quail another go next time – the meat was a little dry – probably due to being on the BBQ for a touch too long.
The school prawns dusted in salt and pepper are a perfect addition for nibbles when you are drinking so we should have put these on our order a bit earlier. Speaking of which – this place is perfect for a few rounds of drinks and the dishes that you can eat with your fingers are the perfect accompaniments.
They have bahn mi available during lunch service as well – usually a selection of 4-5 different kinds so if you are wandering past and keen for a quick bite to test the water then this is the way to go.
If you have been won over by Miss Chu then it’s worth cheating on her for Hanoi Hannah Hawker Kitchen and Bar – cheap food and drinks in the heart of Prahran.
We are also heading on a short trip to Singapore which will be my first visit so if anyone has any recommendations of their favourite hawker stalls, foodie tips or worthwhile activities please let me know in the comments section!
Hanoi Hannah Hawker Kitchen & Bar
180 High Street
Windsor, VIC 3181
Ph. 03 9939 5181