Four Season, Restaurant, Hanoi, Vietnam
Hanoi! What a wonderful, lively but still classical Asian metropolis! A city which – still – let you feel South East Asian traditions but of course experiences a brutal modernism.
Incomparable as any other place in Asia there is an old town which – thanks god – which is protected and preserved due to its UNISCEO WORLD HERTIAGE status, there is the wonderful architectonic ensemble of the governmental area, the opera district, classic elegant villas and unique museums of French heritage by dams, parks and two lakes.
All over Vietnam food is constantly present. At almost each corner, street, alleyway, beach or smallest place – even on bikes and in trains – you find a cookshop, restaurant or simply a station something to eat: fresh, healthy, and rich and in almost all cases simply delicious.
If you consider that Vietnamese usually eat at home you wonder how so many small cookshops can survive. As it is effort able I guess sometime they eat even more than three times per day. Considering that there doesn’t exist real breakfast – although in particular in Hanoi you even can find pretty good baguette and croissants as a leftover of French times before 1954 – all this wonderful soups are the most elementary but satiable ways to eat early in the morning.
Classic restaurants are rather rare in comparison – quite understandable in the light of the variety of all mentioned offers and also because of basic incomes. I would differ between four categories of restaurants: the first is a mixture of a inn and family cooking room: simply and solid food which requires a bigger kitchen due to the variety of offer, sea food places which need space to keep all fishes and seafood in cases and water basins (different quality levels still), then some seldom really beautiful but basic restaurants with a special flair and last but not least selected top ones. So far there isn’t one top cuisine although a very few restaurants in some of the top hotels approaching international levels. But this is nothing I look for when I am in Hanoi as I can find this either in each other Asian city or even in some regards in USA.
They have three rooms on two floors – make sure that you stay on the first (ground) floor. Due to the fees, but also honestly speaking the quality this is one of the few places I know you can find an acceptable mixture of guest among Vietnamese and tourist. Hanoi is visited by really many tourists but since the area is also governmental and cultural you will find enough locals there, too.
The food is just amazing! Some of the selections are the best I know in the entire world as for instance aubergine or as it are better known eggplants. There is a wonderful and most important reasonable selection of amazing appetizers, incredibly delicious salads, selected seafood and then among the main dishes of vegetables and meat. Street foot and stuff from cookshops is without any doubt – as mentioned – wonderfully fresh and rich. But it is of course simple. If you visit one of the many Vietnamese kitchen places for example in Berlin – there are hundreds nowadays – you would find some upgrated cookshop food as this is fashionable. But you would not find something like this in Hanoi – similar like you cannot find Döner Kebab in any real Turkish city. On the other side, if you select some top Vietnamese restaurants – also in Berlin, but much more typical for Paris perhaps – you would get a papaya salad or a real duck dish (not our of industrial pre-frozen duck breast) on a real great level and would be in many cases disappointed in Vietnam since such food is very seldom. “Four Season” is high culture of food and offers in particular such quality of cooking and – of course since we are at a place of origin – better than at any other top Vietnamese place I know.
crab breaded and deep-fried
papaya salad with soja and dry row beef strips
fish-, crab- and meat mix balls with sauce
rice served in a half coconut bowl
Vietnamese aubergine on garlic
Duck with pineapple
All dishes are really very different. If you order aubergines with garlic it tastes very different from you would try aubergines with onions. Their sauces, ingredient and flavors are very original, certainly home-made and always fresh. All decorations are so beautiful and presented with love. It is always a nice ensemble. Some of the meals are rare to find as for instance the papaya salad contains very thin dried raw beef stripes. You can even recognize it by the first time since it has a strong but very unique consistence. It does not taste like meet it could be some seldom plant as well.
The selection of food is well presented. English menu is available and some of the waiter can speak decent English – for sure enough to order a great selection of dishes. Even the restaurant offers a solid number of wines from Australia, Southern Africa, France and even Italy. I would recommend you to order only white ones as they are certainly stored in a refrigerator (which isn’t very often the case in even better restaurants in Vietnam).
Sometimes it is better to make a reservation as unfortunately some touristic agency stuff some big group to this place. They have nice small webpage: http://www.seasonsofhanoi.com.vn/.