Craving for Bánh mì last Saturday but not wanting to go to Boguette again or spending too much at Little V, I asked Robin if we could try Pho Hanoi. This eatery (eetcafe) has the misfortune (or it can be a blessing in disguise) of being the direct neighbour of the popular Boguette, Rotterdam’s go-to place for bánh mì (meat-filled baguette). My husband didn’t even know its existence. I haven’t eaten here either but I was intrigued if it has the same owner.
Turned out not. Pho Hanoi is solely-owned by Viatnamese immigrant Huong Le (I’m not sure I wrote that right) and her daughter Mihn Le. It was sweet, old Huong Le who was serving us and she found it amusing that I was taking photos of my food. She was even very happy with it.
“Share it with your friends, on Facebook, so I will get more customers. I’m very happy, thank you.” She repeated these sentences, in heavily-accented Dutch, about three times during our visit. She said that they don’t have so many customers during the week. Obviously, diners only come in the weekends, Saturdays, especially because it is market day in Blaak.
I was so excited when I saw Viatnamese coffee on the menu. She served it to us traditional-style so we were sort of present in the process. She brought in a mini coffee filter, put in on top of the glass with condensed milk and let the coffee drips for several minutes. After about five minutes, you get a layer of coffee on top of the milk. You need to stir it before adding crushed ice cubes. It was a rainy, Saturday morning and I was like a child watching in glee as Vietnamese coffee is being mixed in front of me. She showed us the coffee that she used, which she said is being planted in the North of the country. It smelled so sweet, like bitter chocolates. In the end, we finished three glasses. At €3,50 each, it was was more of less 1/3 of our bill.
What we ordered in addition to three glasses of coffee:
Bun chà (Vietnamese vermicelli with fresh vegetables, meat and pork bbq wrapped in cha plu) which was more than enough for two people, Gỏi cuốn (fresh spring rolls stuffed with vermicelli, herbs and shrimp) and Broodje Thit dở (baguette with marinated pork). All dishes were delicious and fresh. Mother Huong Le said she prepares and cooks the dishes in the evening or the same morning (depending on the day) so she can serve them fast. With the market literally just outside her door, fresh ingredients are easily available. We paid €29 for the whole meal.
The most unforgettable in her eatery aside from the coffee?
This pot of home-made chilli sauce which she makes using Madame Jeanette (or Surinaamse chilli as she calls it). I put three drops on my baguette and Mother Huong needed to bring a glass of cold water to our table right after I bite into my bread. My mouth was burning. If you dine there, be careful with that stuff.
We didn’t order any of her pho but I think I now know where to go next time I have a hang-over. That chilli sauce is sure to take away any kind of hang-over.
Pho Hanoi Vietnamese Restaurant
3011 HJ, Rotterdam
NOT a sponsored post.