Enter Dieu’s Cuisine and you are immediately enveloped by the décor; a striking combination of pale greens, vivid oranges and bright whites on the tables and chairs. The effect is to create an elegant, yet not intimidatingly upmarket vibe. All seating is outside, which means most tables are blessed with a view of West Lake, although equally afflicted by all the flying and biting nuisances such proximity is bound to bring.
Open for five years, one thing that longevity hasn’t changed is the high bar Dieu’s sets itself to all customers. Every menu comes with a preamble declaring we are not simply customers, we’re guests. It goes on to assure us that the food is prepared in a home-cooked style, using fresh ingredients while staying away from MSG. With expectations high I set about perusing the menu, which is hand-written in calligraphy.
Service is friendly and quick, although a few orders were lost in translation. Hilarious consequences ensued, as the thick and tasty mixed fruit smoothie (VND65,000) was first served as a yoghurt-topped fruit salad before being quickly exchanged for the correct beverage. Similarly, I noticed my order of sweet and sour pork (VND125,000) being written down as ‘squid pork’ — an error I quickly corrected before that was interpreted into a frightening hybrid dish by a presumably confused chef.
Although advertising itself as ‘fusion cuisine’, we decided to stick to the more traditional home-cooked style dishes for our visit. In Hanoi, this means nem. From a choice of five, we opted for the fried pork spring rolls (VND60,000). With presentation that mothers everywhere would approve of, they arrived cut up on a plate surrounding a bowl of nuoc mam. With substance definitely trumping style, they were well-flavoured and crispy enough to elicit a gentle murmur of approval after each bite.
The main courses continued the theme of prioritising quality over fancy plating. Without worrying about serving food on hipster butchers’ blocks or decanting drinks into hemp-clad masonry jars, Dieu’s is free to focus on flavour. The sweet and sour pork (VND125,000) was thinly sliced but still tender, and arrived swimming in a plate of perfectly sticky sauce, a real delicious treat. The tofu with lemongrass and chilli (VND85,000) was satisfying, but lacking any real spicy punch.
The highlight of the meal was undoubtedly the grilled shrimp (VND130,000), served in garlic butter and sliced open along the tail to simplify the process of peeling the shells. The tenderness of the generously sized shrimp being matched only by the rich flavour of the juices they were served in, they alone would be a reason to return.
All things considered, this was a satisfying meal in a nice restaurant. Dieu’s may not do bells and whistles, but it does do good food served by staff with the best intentions for the guest at heart. Turns out the secret to Dieu’s longevity is quite simple; simplicity.
Dieu’s Cuisine is located at 25 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi (the lower section of the road closest to the lake). Open daily from 9am to 11pm, bookings and delivery are available on 0987 346843
Food, Decor and Service are each rated on a scale of 0 to 15.
13 — 15 extraordinary to perfection
10 — 12.5 very good to excellent
8 — 9.5 good to very good
5 — 7.5 fair to good
0 — 4.5 poor to fair
The Word reviews anonymously and pays for all meals