When you don’t want pho, where do you go for your morning food fix? Words by Mignon Van Zyl. Photos by Sasha Arefieva

 

The thought of eating a steaming bowl of beef noodle soup first thing in the morning is not everyone’s idea of the ideal breakfast, especially foreigners whose tastes lie more in the direction of bacon and eggs, waffles or croissants. Here are some options if you want to give noodle soup a break.

 

Bancong Deli

18 Quang Khanh, Tay Ho, Hanoi

 

Many people agree that one of the key ingredients to a memorable breakfast is crispy, flavourful bacon. Head to Bancong Deli and that’s what you’ll get. All their bacon and ham is smoked in their self-made brick smoker on the deli’s rooftop. Catering to Western breakfast palates, the brunch menu includes: full English breakfast (VND130,000), American-style pancakes (VND110,000), vegetarian breakfast (VND90,000), corn fritter stack (VND120,000), sweet or savoury French toast (VND110,000) and granola with natural yoghurt (VND110,000). We tried the eggs Benedict — soft poached eggs with sautéed watercress on a toasted English muffin, homemade Hollandaise sauce and smoky rind bacon (VND90,000) —the bacon was the star of the meal. Bancong’s quiet location provides an intimate alternative to the usual chaotic street-eating experience. Great for an undisturbed meal with a partner or close friend. Brunch is served all day.

 

Don’s — A Chef’s Bistro

16 Quang An, Tay Ho, Hanoi

 

Vietnam meets Canada at Don’s — A Chef’s Bistro. Originally from Montreal, owner Don’s breakfast menu reflects typical Montreal dishes. We savoured every bite of the lotus blossom tea smoked salmon on a toasted bagel with Philly cream cheese, shaved onion, capers, potato pancake and salad (VND199,000). The salmon is imported from the Faroe Islands and is as fresh as it gets. If you’re feeling particularly hungry try the Canadian breakfast (VND179,000) with two eggs, toast, bacon, sausage, ham, potato hash browns, baked beans, tomato gratin and fresh fruit. Anything with a bagel is also recommended as Don is a bagel fanatic (by virtue of his Canadian roots) so the bagels are top-notch. This is the kind of place you visit to splurge on quality food that’ll be worth every cent. Breakfast is served daily from 9am to 3pm and includes free Illy coffee or tea.

 

Hanoi Social Club

6 Hoi Vu, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

 

Alternative ingredients for alternative diets is part of what makes Hanoi Social Club so popular. The breakfast menu is no different. The polenta quinoa porridge with pistachios, dried apricots, blackcurrants, cream and other seasonal fruits (VND120,000) is a must-try. The mix of polenta and quinoa creates a gooey consistency that’s both nutritious and delicious. Also on the menu is bircher muesli (VND85,000), black rice and chia pudding (VND110,000), various breads with homemade jam (VND50,000), avocado and ricotta on sourdough toast (VND120,000), poached eggs on toast with morning glory (VND100,000), potato fritters and chorizo (VND140,000), spiced french toast (VND130,000) and croissant with jam (VND30,000). Be warned, a full breakfast belly combined with the laid-back atmosphere and cosy set up might have you lingering until lunch time.

 

home38

38 Quang Ba, Tay Ho, Hanoi

 

For an inexpensive, straightforward and simple English breakfast look no further than home38. One of only two Western restaurants on this street, it’s a peaceful spot that overlooks a lotus pond (dammed off from Tay Ho lake) and serves quality food. The full English breakfast with two fried eggs, imported British sausage, bacon, grilled tomato, Heinz baked beans, hash browns and two slices of thick homemade toast (VND110,000) is reminiscent of a wholesome, home-cooked meal. There’s also the bacon butty (VND60,000), full veggie breakfast (VND90,000), light breakfast (VND60,000), light veggie breakfast (VND60,000) and French toast with honey (VND35,000). Breakfast is served all day. If you’re after some good comfort food, this is where you’ll find it.

 

Maison de Têt Décor

Villa 156 Tu Hoa, Nghi Tam Village, Tay Ho, Hanoi

 

There’s something about a healthy, organic meal that leaves you feeling in top form. Add to that a French villa and a holistic approach to both food and service and you’ll get the full Maison de Têt Décor experience. Their smashed avocado on toast with feta, roast tomato, rocket, mint, olive oil and lemon (VND180,000) looks simple but it’s the fresh ingredients and familiar flavours that make it one of Maison’s top sellers. Other popular breakfast dishes include the lemon soufflé pancakes (VND150,000), gluten-free breads (VND80,000), breakfast bowls (VND120,000) and smoked salmon Benedict (VND160,000). A meal at Maison would not be complete without one of their on-site micro batch roasted coffees. The Heaven blend is a favourite — a combination of Colombia Arabica, Sumatra Arabica, Vietnam Arabica and Vietnam Robusta.

 

Oven D’or

Sheraton Hanoi Hotel, K5 Nghi Tam, 11 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi

 

If you enjoy a buffet style breakfast then we recommend trying the Sheraton Hotel’s Sunday brunch (VND1.1 million). It costs more than what you’d usually pay for breakfast/brunch but the array of food choices and the five-star dining experience makes it worthwhile. Options include Canadian lobster claw, baked lobster, French oysters, Nha Trang oysters, three kinds of smoked fish, steamed flower crab, Japanese sushi and sashimi, a selection of cold cut chorizo, dried sausage, white ham, salami, pastrami and saucisson, imported cheese, salads, soups, BBQ meat, foie gras terrine and more. We tasted the prime rib with potato and melted Swiss cheese and a mixed garden salad. The meat was cooked to perfection (soft but not bloody nor chewy) and the potato and cheese combination was comfort food at its best. We’d recommend treating yourself to this classic dining experience. Brunch is every Sunday from 11.30am to 3pm.

 

Panam Creperie

26 Truong Han Sieu, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi

 

“When I returned home from my studies in France, I was craving a crepe so bad,” says co-owner Linh Dang. “There was only one place that sold them in West Lake but it was too far to drive. We wanted to open a place that served crepes in the centre of Hanoi.” And so Panam Creperie was born. Crispier than a pancake but just as versatile, crepes are a great option for breakfast. We had the classic savoury crepe, the Campagnarde, with bacon lardon, egg, mushrooms in a cream sauce and a side salad (VND125,000). Quintessential French flavours in a dish that’s big enough to share, what’s not to love? There’s a variety of both sweet and savoury dishes on the menu, including Forestière (ham, egg, mushrooms in cream sauce, tomatoes and Emmental cheese —VND150,000) and Pomme d’Armour (salted butter caramel and caramelised apple — VND85,000). The set brunch menu (VND150,000) is available daily from 10.30am to 2pm and includes a savoury pancake and dessert or a salad and dessert. Panam is frequented by embassy folk for its food, elegant decor and Paris-in-Vietnam feel.

 

The Republic

7A Quang An, Tay Ho, Hanoi

 

Although thought of as more of a place to go to in the evenings, The Republic’s all-day breakfast menu and lake views is rather appealing for a morning meal. The Republic egg muffin with crispy bacon, any style eggs, cheddar cheese and hash browns (VND100,000) is an easy-to-eat and light option. My definition of a flawless poached egg is determined by the speed at which the egg yolk seeps out after it’s been cut into. Our yolks didn’t run, they danced. Other options are the healthy start (fruit, muesli, yogurt, etc. — VND100,000), blueberry and banana pancakes (VND140,000), eggs Benedict (VND190,000), The Republic omelette (VND150,000), The “Bomb” (poached eggs on toasted sourdough rye with smashed avocado, baby feta and hollandaise — VND160,000) and The “Stack” (veggie fritter, baby spinach, smoked salmon, poached egg, goats cheese and hollandaise — VND180,000).

 

Xofa Café

14 Tong Duy Tan, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

 

Located on the busy ‘street food street’, Xofa Café is one of the only cafés in Hanoi that’s open 24 hours a day. Frequented by night owls and freelancers, Xofa invites customers to make themselves at home and even allows them to sleep on their sofas (blankets are provided). If you’re a fan of breakfast at 3am then this is the place for you. The healthy breakfast with muesli, fresh milk, fresh fruit salad, butter and jam (VND88,000) is a light and fresh option if you’re not craving eggs. Other choices include a full breakfast (VND140,000), scrambled eggs (VND75,000), ham and cheese omelette (VND120,000) and vegetable omelette (VND68,000). There’s a relaxed and inviting atmosphere here and the outside courtyard area is great for a kitchen tea or business breakfast meeting.

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1 comment

  • Comment Link George George Jan 26, 2017

    Very useful article. Yes, I get fed up with eating Pho all the time.

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