Friday, 23/11/2018 09:31

Mỳ Quảng Bếp Tâm, finding central region’s favourite food in the heart of Hà Nội

Fresh: The veal and eggplant salad. — VNS Photo My Ha
Viet Nam News

By Nguyen My Ha

Hang Bai Street in Ha Noi is like the city’s principal vein. It’s the thoroughfare from the south leading up north to Hoan Kiem Lake with heavy traffic day and night. It’s a downtown street for fancy clothes boutiques and electronic outlets on one side, and Ha Noi’s oldest secondary school on the other.

The hefty rental prices discourage restaurateurs, so when we heard about a my Quang noodle shop that had just opened, we were surprised and wanted to give it a try.

Bep Tam, as it’s explained in the restaurant’s mantra, means cooking in a cosy home kitchen, just like your mother or grandmother used to make.

But in actual fact, Bep Tam is spacious with a modern, clean decor.

The menu features Da Nang’s most famous dishes, but restaurant quality rather than streetfood style.

We ordered a salad, goi be bop ca phao, (veal and aubergine salad, VND120,000), which was fresh, well-marinated and chewy.

Then we had a banh xeo, which was crispy, and the stuffing of pork and shrimp tasted really good. But my gourmet friend complained that the batter for the crepes had too much coconut milk or powder in it, making them too strong. To be honest, I loved the crispy crepes and the fresh mustard greens, so the batter didn’t bother me. I only realized the strong coconut flavour after my friend pointed it out.

Bep Tam offers favourite dishes from the central region and the south, like banh xeo, nem lui (roasted pork paste with assorted vegetables), and flower hotpot (VND350,000) and fish hotpot (VND399,000).

But the signature dishes are eight kinds of my Quang noodles. It’s really the highlight of the menu: chicken, beef, fish, eel, frog, crab, and shrimp. Prices range from VND55,000 to VND79,000, but if you want to splash out, for want of a better term, Bep Tam noodles (VND120,000) has a bit of everything.

Chef Nga said originally the famous noodles only came with chicken or pork. Fish, eel or frog were added sporadically throughout the region depending on what was in season.

“My husband is from Tam Ky, (the provincial town of Quang Nam Province), the heart of the my Quang noodle region.”

My Quang is popular there, they cook it for family gatherings, weddings and funerals.

Now in its third month, Nga said she has already had compliment from her customers. Some like the way she cooks here because it’s not as salty as the version you can find in Da Nang or Quang Nam.

“Hanoians are quite demanding, they like it less salty and more flavourful not only from the meat, but also the vegetables and fruit cooked in the broth,” she said.

I personally like the way they present the noodle at Bep Tam: noodles, vegetables and a hotpot brimming with broth.

“It tastes better when people decide to mix the noodle the way they want,” Nga said. “We can mix it well, but some like more noodles and some prefer more vegetables; they can mix their own dish."

There’s a difference between my Quang noodles and other noodle soups: it’s not burning hot like pho or other noodle soups and can still be enjoyed like a salad.

“In the cold winter in Ha Noi, we like to have the soup really hot for the dish,” Nga said.

Another soup-based dishes from the central region are also available, such as banh canh (manioc-based free range noodles) with different extras like fish (VND55,000), pork paste from Nam Pho (in Hue) or pork from Trang Bang in Tay Ninh Province (both VND65,000) each.

For desert, you can choose from a few sweet drinks, or che, on the menu. We ordered che thot not hat e (Asian palmyra dessert, VND22,000) and two kinds of banana cakes (VND25,000), but only the first drink was available.

We returned to work after spending under VND200,000 each feeling content, but we still wondered how a brand new restaurant like this, no matter how well it is doing, can overcome the throat-cut rental costs in the area. — VNS


My Quang Bep Tam

Address: 53D Hang Bai St.

Booking hotline: 1900 6044

Comment: Favourite food from the central region in modern decor

DIY: Diners can mix their own my Quang to their taste. — VNS Photo My Ha
Snack time: Noodles, fresh herbs and rice crackers. — VNS Photo My Ha
Shrimptastic: Crispy shrimp wraps, something like a roll, but with less meat. — VNS Photo My Ha

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