After noticing a lack of hawker-style food in Melbourne’s south-east, Simon Blacher and Paul Nguyen of The Saint, and Nick Coulter of Sarti, decided to remedy the problem with the fresh and affordable Hanoi Hannah in 2012.
It’s similar to many of the restaurants along Victoria Street in Richmond and Abbotsford, minus the picture menus and bland décor. Rather than blending Asian cuisines, the menu is made up entirely of Vietnamese street-eats, albeit with a few modern twists (such as Vietnamese-style pork-belly sliders).
The most expensive item on the menu is a low $17. The three pho dishes (beef, chicken and mixed mushroom) are a standout. Other options include crispy betel-leaf cigars; yellowfin tuna rolls with wasabi mayo; and a several iterations of vermicelli salads.
The menu at Hanoi Hannah Elsternwick (which opened in 2016) is almost identical, although the fit-out is cleaner and more spacious. A few doors down from the Windsor original, Hanoi Hannah Express Lane offers a slimmed-down menu for takeaway only.
The two dine-in locations share a fast, fun atmosphere. That’s no surprise – there are plenty of light, drinkable cocktails, jugs of “oriental sangria” (passionfruit, pomegranate and Thai basil) and big 640-millilitre bottles of Tsingtao. It’s cheap and cheerful, but with a refined edge.