I will venture to claim that while in Viet Nam, I cannot think of any meal I had that was not good. Some were exquisite, others were not so exquisite, but on the whole, it's really hard to find anything that isn't tasty.
Another interesting fact is that during both trips to Viet Nam, the majority of restaurants we went to were random. In fact, I recommend that you do the same. Just walk around, and when hunger strikes, stop and you're bound to find yourself not too far from an eatery.
We are now on Ly Quoc Su Street, in Ha Noi's old quarter, and there's construction going on around the sidewalk. It's hot as usual, and restaurants give you an opportunity to cool off and re-energize. We went into "La Restaurant" because it looked pretty from the outside. And it was just as pretty on the inside. It has an amber like atmosphere which came from the color of the walls, on which were hung all sorts of interesting art pieces. From the entrance, one can spot a well stocked bar over which they have hung the ubiquitous "Merry Christmas". It's quiet. A server appears almost immediately, and shows us to one of the empty tables. I love the settings!! Colorful, square plates, covered with crimson linen napkins, and the thoughtful combination of a fork and chopsticks reveals that we can expect a fusion menu. Small, ebony black vases hold fresh roses!
We are looking at stuffed crepes, and they were ethereal. The photos will give you an idea, but it's impossible to describe the lightness of the crepe. In one of them, it is reminiscent of fluffy beaten egg whites, and the other is somewhat pasty, rice pasty, but extremely light. They stuff them with a combination of meats or fish with subtle spicing (I'm sure ngoc mam figures in there somewhere, as it does in most VN dishes), and though I am chewing very slowly, the crepe is disappearing too fast.
By Viet Namese standards, the prices are a bit higher than normal. We actually snacked on appetizers for the cost of dinner. An excellent dinner with drinks for two should run about VDN300,000 (divide by 16,000). The menu is not very long, however, it seems that they have emphasized quality over quantity. Did I mention that they serve real butter?
I have learned since I came back that the man responsible for that amazing atmosphere of "calm and soothing" and excellence in food is called Wayne Sjothun. The absence of screaming TV or very loud music is welcome. You can retreat to La Restaurant and let them pamper you for all it's worth.
La Restaurant & Bar
Address: 25 Ly Quoc Su Street
Tel: (84-4) 9288933
Hours: 8am - 11pm (kitchen closes)
Prices: VND40,000 - 150,000
General comment: Gourmet dining in a relaxed atmosphere.