The Other Asian

photo (37)

So, after our failed attempt at Vong, I finally got a reservation at Hanoi– the other new Vietnamese (Pan-Asian) place in Tel Aviv. I had been waiting weeks and weeks, like a kid for Christmas morning, and the day had finally arrived. There was a cancellation, and I was IN!

I went with two friends of mine, and we came hungry and hopeful. However, I think it is time to give up my dream of good Vietnamese food in Israel (damn). Basically, the prices were huge, and the portions were not.

I was thrilled to see that the menu had a selection of Vietnamese, Thai, and Chinese dishes, however the thrills of the night ended there.

The place itself was not busy at all (no surprise based on the food, but why then could I never get a reservation?), and the ambiance was a bit too industrial for my taste (the tables were made out of plastic produce crates). It lacked charm to say the least.

When we sat down, we got a nice, free pot of jasmine tea (ok…), but then we ordered, and we got our food, and it’s let down after let down. Like when you hold your breath out of excitement, and then when you go to let it out it’s an “awww man” instead of a “yeaaaaahhhhh!!!” and then you wait for the next exciting thing to happen and the scene repeats itself.

photo (24)

Elise had ordered the spring rolls to start. Note to all Israelis: spring rolls are NOT fried. The fried ones are called eggrolls. They were small and greasy. (Can you believe that picture? That was all she got!)

photo (26)

The pho was more akin to salt water (heavy on the salt) with some herbs, noodles, and chicken (at least here it was hot, and the meat was actually tender).

The waiter had recommended the vegan Thai curry to us, saying it was the best thing on the menu. After trying the dish, Elise cleverly pointed out that it was good, but if this was the “best thing” on their menu, then they didn’t have a lot going for them.

photo (36)

I ordered the calamari, and there was nothing remotely Asian about it. It tasted like fried calamari anywhere else (but soggier).

photo (32)

Loving pork belly, I also ordered the crispy pork belly banh. They should rename it the “chewy and cold pork belly bahn.” What is it with these restaurants not heating their food properly? The woman next to me ordered the same thing, and when I asked her, she said that her sandwich was warm, which is awesome, but hello? Has anyone ever heard of consistency?

photo (35)

Being who I am, I can’t go long without dessert. I ordered tapioca brulee, which are two things I generally like. The desert was frozen on the bottom, burned on the top, and about the size of the lid off of a Pringles can. The only saving grace was the sauce on the bottom.

photo (20)

Lilenblum 18

Again, I’d give you the number, but maybe eat sushi instead that night…

About the Author
Closing in on six years living in Israel I still shirk away from traditional fare. Though chickpeas are probably a major Israeli food group, you won't find my fork near a falafel ball or my pita near a plate of hummus. Instead, I've come from the original Lone Star State (Texas) to discover all of the other things you can eat in the other Lone Star State (Israel).