Hanoi Hannah outgrew its old Elsternwick home the day it moved in. The kitchen was small and awkward to work in, and there were rarely enough seats to accommodate the Vietnamese street-food joint’s disciples.
The new site, a few doors down from the Glen Huntly Road original, has none of those problems. With enough bar stools and banquettes to seat 100 people, and a kitchen that’s large enough for Hannah’s chefs to flex their ever-evolving culinary muscles, Hanoi Hannah Vol. II is one of those rare sequels that’s better than the original.
“We’ve been around for almost eight years now and have had some great talent come into the business,” says Commune Group director Simon Blacher (Tokyo Tina, Neptune Food & Wine). “This restaurant is about giving customers more space, but it’s about giving the chefs space to show off their skills, too.”
The exposed brick walls and timber floors found in the Hanoi Hannah Richmond site are replicated here (there’s also a fast and fun third Hanoi Hannah in Windsor), as are the big black window frames and industrial-style pendants. But this version’s more sophisticated, moodier. A little more grown-up.
The bar is big and takes centre stage, so much so that it almost feels like walking into an inner-city cocktail bar. Soul and disco classics are pumped out of the speakers, and a pair of red LED-lit signs cast a dive-bar glow across the room.
A heated outdoor area is a change of pace. Decorated with a handful of potted plants, it has a long communal bench, a few tables and bentwood chairs. A maître d’ table, flanked by a pastel-pink vintage lampshade and a few plants, sits in front of rows of banquettes. Kitschy, colourful prints of Vietnamese condiments adorn the walls.
The diner built its name on dishes such as Peking duck rice paper rolls; beef, chicken and mushroom pho; Hanoi-style pork spring rolls with mustard greens and nuoc mam; and vermicelli salads. And they’re still going strong here.
“All the classics that put us on the map and made us a go-to – they’ve always been part of the restaurant’s DNA and they always will be,” Blacher says.
But executive chef Anthony Choi (Tokyo Tina, now-closed Circa, Cumulus Inc) has added a wealth of new dishes, too. Start with chicken ribs with pickled chilli and lime salt, then move onto roast duck with five spice, cinnamon and lemongrass, which is dry-aged for four days and served on deep-fried egg noodles. Next, braised beef in a rich, slightly sweet aromatic stew with banh tieu, savoury Vietnamese doughnuts, on the side. And pho cuon is lemongrass beef and thai basil wrapped in a rice noodle sheet.
At lunch, a tighter menu offers snacks, soups, salads and more banh tieu – this time stuffed with either brisket or Szechuan eggplant.
For dessert, there’s deep-fried coconut ice-cream with custard, and a classic Italian-style tiramisu with Vietnamese coffee, finished with a spoonful of spiced rum served at the table.
To drink, wines spanning the globe, Colonial IPA and Brooklyn IPA on tap, and an almost entirely rum-driven cocktail list.
Hanoi Hannah Vol. II
306 Glen Huntly Road, Elsternwick
03 9939 3528
Sun to Wed 12pm–4pm, 5pm–10pm
Thu 12pm–4pm, 5pm–11pm
Fri & Sat 12pm–4pm, 5pm–12am